Pitzer in Botswana

Beginning fall semester 2019, refer to Pitzer in Southern Africa.

Pitzer in Botswana: A multi-country (Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe) comparative studies program that exposes students to important issues, cultures and people of this region. The program is based in Botswana where students spend a total of two and a half months, and also includes extended study trips in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Students live with host families, study local cultures, and work with local scholars and experts in each country. Participants experience first-hand the concept and life of Ubuntu, the notion that defines the communal nature of the cultural values of the South African, Batswana and Zimbabwean peoples. It embraces the notion in their greetings that proclaims, “I am well if you are well,” and “my destiny is intricately intertwined with yours.” This idea was at the heart of the post-colonial reconciliation process of Zimbabwe that became a model for South Africa’s post-Apartheid government strategy and its celebrated Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Additionally, the program provides students with an opportunity to learn about the multiple ways governments, NGOs and local communities in the region choose to approach issues that are common across borders, such as the colonial legacy, development, race, power, human rights and reconciliation, big game conservation, ecology and tourism, health care, education, and poverty. During the final month of the program, students pick one topic to pursue in depth for an independent study project, culminating in a major paper.


One of Africa’s most politically and economically stable countries, Botswana is home to over 2 million people and 226,900 square miles of vast savannas, the Kalahari Desert, and world famous wildlife parks, including the Okavango Delta. Botswana’s citizens, most of whom live in the major cities, towns and villages along the eastern border, enjoy standards of education and economic well-being rivaled on the continent only by neighboring South Africa. Although Botswana shares many socio-cultural commonalities with the rest of the region, it is unique from a political and historical standpoint. It was never colonized and never had to fight a war of independence. As a result, Botswana has thrived, and students will witness first-hand how good governance and prudent natural resources management can have a positive effect on societal issues such as racism, poverty, and gender inequity.

(More information to be provided.)

South Africa
Since the overthrow of Apartheid and the historic 1994 election, the Rainbow Nation has tried to strike a balance between the expectations of the hitherto marginalized black population and those of the white minority. A vibrant democracy and progressive constitution has resulted in a socio-economic and political transformation that has ushered in a new era of prosperity for the non-white marginalized groups that were excluded by Apartheid policies.  Nonetheless, after two decades of post-Apartheid efforts, the country still struggles with high unemployment and poverty rates, and with major challenges around issues of healthcare disparities, housing, and education.  A combination of lectures and study trips will enable students to unpack the complex issues behind South Africa’s transformative agenda.

Once the breadbasket of southern Africa and a model of post-colonial transformation, Zimbabwe has struggled politically and economically in recent decades. Despite these challenges, the country still has the highest literacy rates on the African continent and continues to play a significant role in environmental conversation efforts. Students explore issues related to land and agriculture, politics, natural resources, ownership and management.

Pitzer College in Botswana Documentary
Pitzer students Alex Cooke and Chris Norwood are media studies majors who studied in Botswana fall semester 2014.  They produced and directed a 15 minute video documentary that captures both the cultural context and  academics of the program in Botswana. Watch now.

Pitzer Graduate Marie Fleming ’16 Joins Peace Corps to Improve Food Security in Madagascar
Fleming studied abroad on the Pitzer in Botswana program. As a research intern with the Okavango Research Institute in Botswana in 2014, she conducted fieldwork to explore conflict between humans and wildlife in the region. She says her experience in Pitzer in Botswana encouraged her to apply to the Peace Corps. Read the press release.

Botswana study abroad and research opportunity sparks career interest 
Jake Shimkus CMC ’15  speaks about how his research on rural electrification in Botswana during the fall of 2013 motivated his interest in a career in sustainable energy access.  Watch now.

  • Academics

    botswana-universityHost Institution

    The program is affiliated with the University of Botswana, a comprehensive institution of higher learning with an undergraduate enrollment of roughly 16,000, located in the capital city of Gaborone.

    BTW107 PZ  Core Course: Socio-political Change in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe
    BTW15 PZ    Intensive Setswana Language
    BTW103 PZ  Independent Study Project
    Suggested Preparation
    Coursework in Southern Africa area studies or development studies.
    Students must be in good academic standing and have a 2.0 or higher GPA on a 4.0 scale.
    Grades for this program will be recorded on a Pitzer College transcript and included in the Pitzer GPA. Students are required to participate fully in all program components and are not allowed to withdraw from individual courses. Students must take all courses for a letter grade.
    Program Dates
    Fall: Early August to mid-December
    Spring: Mid-January to late May/early June
    Full Year: Early August to early June – contact the Office of Study Abroad for details


    Weeks 1 – 4          Village stay and intensive setswana language, Manyana, Botswana

    Week 5                 Study trip to Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, Botswana

    Week 6 – 8            Extended study trip and family stay in Zimbabwe

    Week 9 – 11          Family stay and service learning internships in Gaborone, Botswana

    Week 12 – 14        Extended study trip and family stay in Soweto, South Africa

    Week 15 – 18        Independent study project and family stay in Gaborone, Botswana

    The Core Course

    Core Course: Socio-political Change in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe
    The Core Course is designed to provide students with a broad overview of Botswana, including its history, politics, culture, religion and important current issues, within which students are asked to place and analyze their personal experience. The course then offers students a comparative and regional perspective on these topics through extended study trips to South Africa and Zimbabwe. In each location, students engage in  family stays, participate in a series of lectures given by university faculty and specialists from governmental and non-governmental organizations, and take study trips to areas of historical, cultural and environmental importance. Students complete a series of writing assignments to integrate readings and lectures with the more experiential components of family stays, internships, and study trips to explore important issues from the host culture perspective and to deepen their cross cultural learning.

    Service Learning
    In order to gain firsthand experience with issues explored in the core course, while in Gaborone, students spend several afternoons a week working with a local or international organization. A variety of opportunities are available, including, but not limited to work in a hospital or clinical setting, teaching in a government school, participating in an organization that advocates for human rights, working in wildlife conservation with a government agency or a non-profit organization.

    Intensive Setswana Language Study

    While English is widely spoken by most people in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the program realizes the importance of learning the local language as a way to honor the host community, connect more deeply with locals, and open windows into the host culture. This course provides students with an opportunity to develop a basic level of communicative proficiency in Setswana, the language of Botswana, which is also spoken in nearby parts of South Africa. The course emphasizes proficiency in speaking and listening through a highly communicative, interactive language curriculum that is closely connected to the rural  family stay experience in Botswana and to other field activities.

    Independent Study Project

    Students explore a topic of interest through a directed independent study. Projects are guided by local scholars, specialists, or program staff and may take the form of a research project (ethnographic research, environmental analysis, field ecology etc.), an apprenticeship (with an artist, craftsperson, dance troupe, theater group, etc.), an internship (with an NGO, government office, school, etc.) or work in the Vaccine Development Institute at the University of Botswana (for students with appropriate science backgrounds). For any of these projects, a significant analytical component in the form of a written report (and in some cases a film or other media studies format) provides the documentation of learning. This is the part of the program where students can often do something that counts towards their major that would be impossible to do on their home campus – often a great opportunity to begin work on a senior thesis. Students may pursue their topic in any of the three countries.

    View a list of independent study projects.

  • Course Descriptions

    Pitzer College in Botswana

    Gaborone, Botswana

    Sample Syllabi Spring 2017

    The Core Course: Socio-political Change in Botswana, South Africa & Zimbabwe 

    (2.0 course credit = 8 semester units)



    This is a multi-disciplinary course which is intended to give students a broad overview of some of the key socio-economic, historical, political, religious, environmental and cultural issues that shape the lives of contemporary Batswana, South Africans and Zimbabweans as well as deepen student’s intercultural competency as they participate fully in the sub-regional life and cultures. The core course combines a series of lectures given by university faculty and specialists from governmental and non-governmental organizations, readings, class sessions and workshops that take an experiential, developmental, and holistic approach to intercultural learning, and the reflective writing of the fieldbook, with the more experiential components of family stays, internships, and study trips to provide a high degree of cultural immersion and cross cultural learning.

    Student Learning Outcomes[1]:

    • Participate fully in the host culture and community while engaged in an ongoing process of culture learning that informs your interactions with members of the host culture.
    • Demonstrate the ability to observe host culture behavior without interpreting or judging based on one’s own culture and ultimately, the capacity to recognize and understand the relationship between host culture values and behavior.
    • Apply a culture general framework to make helpful generalizations for the host culture without stereotyping.
    • Reflect on ways your own cultural values may influence the way you perceive or interpret local behavior and the ways members of the host culture perceive or interpret your own behavior based on their cultural values and beliefs.
    • Develop the capacity to explore and learn about a new community and acquire local knowledge while participating fully in the life of a host family and local community (employing such methods as participant observation, structured interviewing, active listening, field note writing, and structured reflection).
    • Demonstrate the ability to analyze various aspects of your personal experience, observations and relationships in the context of a basic understanding of the history, politics, culture, religion and current issues (e.g. education, healthcare) of Botswana.
    • Demonstrate an ability to form meaningful relationships (personal, educational, professional, etc.) with members of the host culture while being aware of the privileges and prerogatives that one has because of one’s skin color, nationality, education, job position, social class, gender, language, etc.
    • Demonstrate an awareness of one’s own reactions (personal feelings, assumptions) to difference in the host community (cultural, racial, class, gender, ethnic, religious, ideological, educational, etc.) without judging that difference.
    • Demonstrate an ability to analyze issues from multiple perspectives within the host culture (check tendency to make overgeneralizations about the culture based on one person’s or one group’s perspective.)  When appropriate, compare the host culture perspective with the perspective of your own culture.
    • Demonstrate an awareness of the historical, social, and economic conditions that have led to inequalities among various groups in the host country and the ability to reflect on the character and identity of individuals as emerging out of their group history, life experiences and present day circumstances.
    • Identify and reflect upon global processes, institutions, ideologies that affect and shape the quality of life in your host country and community.

    Course Description:

    Intercultural Learning:

    In this component of the course, students will acquire intercultural concepts and skills to apply to their daily experiences in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Active reflection will help deepen their understanding of the complexity and diversity of the sub-regional’s core values and cultural practices that encourage them to develop a more nuanced awareness of cultural background, and help them develop the ability to handle intercultural tensions successfully.

    Students will collaborate with classmates, local cultural hosts, and the course instructor to explore cultural self-awareness (who & how you are), cultural literacy (who and how the ‘other’ is within the sub-regional cultural context), and cultural bridging. Concepts include, but are not limited to: global citizenship, cultural values, cultural dimensions, and stereotyping. Skills include conscious communicating, suspending judgment, shifting perspectives, resolving disagreements, and articulating the intercultural experience.

    Learning for this component will be assessed through participation in workshops and classroom discussions, fieldbook assignments, and student’s ability to demonstrate their culture learning in the way they interact with their host families and other members of the community.

    Semester Outline, Assignments and Readings:

    Lectures and class discussions are scheduled throughout the semester to provide students with important background information on Batswana, South African and Zimbabwean societies and cultures and the key issues that affect host families and lives in the sub-region. Presentations are given by village community members, professors from the Universities of Botswana, Pretoria and Zimbabwe and guest speakers from SADC, the government, the private sector, civil society and other non-governmental organizations.

    Students are expected to take good notes during lectures that can serve as references for written assignments, be prepared to engage speakers and one another with questions and insights after the lecture, and serve as appointed discussion leaders for selected lectures.  The lectures begin in Gaborone during the program orientation week and continue until the beginning of the ISP component of the program.

    Topics covered vary according to the availability of speakers and student interest but usually include many of the following:

    January 11-February 11 2017: Orientation and Manyana Village Homestay:

    Introduction to the History of Botswana

    Traditional Medicine and Religion

    Traditional Local governance and Local Development–(meeting with the Kgosi at the Kgotla and village development committee)

    Rural Health Care Issues–visit to the village clinic

    Rural Education visit to the village schools during village stay

    Health (HIV/AIDS) and its impact on the society

    Rites of Passage

    Tradition and Modernity

    Courtship and Marriage

    Assignment #1: Narrative Story

    Your first fieldbook assignment will be about you in Botswana. Write a narrative account of a meaningful experience you have had that illustrates something about Setswana life and culture and your attempt(s) to participate fully in and adjust to the new culture. Your topic could be an interesting encounter, an embarrassing incident, a particular cultural or lifestyle challenge, a satisfying achievement, etc.).In most cases your story should be about 4-5 type-written pages (but some stories may require greater depth) and include rich descriptions of the places and people involved that serve to bring the reader into the experience. We don’t expect you to be Ernest Hemingway, but we are interested in creative and descriptive stories that reveal embedded cultural truths or meaningful intercultural experiences in Botswana. Due 25 January 2017.

    Assignment #2: Gender Roles and the Status of Women in Rural Botswana  

    Discuss and analyze gender roles and the status of women in rural Botswana. Draw materials from all the required readings, lectures and other sources as appropriate (e.g. newspapers, TV programs, ethnographic interviews, etc.). In your essay include a discussion of how gender roles and the status of women have changed over time. Most importantly, include your observations in the village of Manyana and interviews with at least five Batswana men and women of various ages and backgrounds (e.g. host family members, community members, program staff, language teachers, etc.). Due 8 February 2017.


    • Denbow, J and Thebe P. C (2006) Culture And Customs of Botswana, London, Greenwood Press.
    • Rantao R (2006) Setswana Culture and Tradition, Gaborone, Pentagon Publishers
    • Alexander, M. E, Lesetedi G N, et al (2005) Beyond Inequalities 2005: Women in Botswana, Gaborone, Women’s NGO Coalition.
    • Armstrong. K. A (1997) Struggling over Scare Resource: Women and Maintenance in Southern Africa, Harare, University of Zimbabwe Publications.
    • Maurick, M. and Posthumus B (eds) (1999) Women Challenging Society: Stories of Women’s Empowerment in Southern Africa, Netherlands, Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa.
    • Erickson, C. (1993) Women in Botswana, Gaborone, Women and Law in Southern Africa.
    • Andrade, X, Trindade J, C, et al (2001) Four Issues: Women Human Rights, Literature Research, Mozambique, CIEDMA SARL.
    • Stewart, J, Dengu-Zvobgo K, et al (2001) Pregnancy and Rebirth: Joy or Despair? Harare, Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust.
    • Stewart, J, Dengu-Zvobgo, K, et al (2000) In the Shadow of the Law: Women AND Justice Delivery in Zimbabwe, Harare, Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust.
    • Dingake, K, Kidd, P, et al (1997) Botswana Families and Women’s Rights in A Changing Environment, Gaborone, Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust.
    • Dangarebga T (2004) Nervous Conditions, UK, Ayebia Clarke Publishing
    • Dow U (2000) Far and Beyond, California, Aunt Lute Books
    • C (2006) Place of Reeds, London, Simon and Schuster Ltd.

    February 12-16 2017: Northern Botswana/Okavango Delta Study Trip:

    Environment, Wildlife and Tourism

    Impact of Elephant Population on the Environment

    Endangered Species of Botswana

    Big Game Ecology

    Human Wildlife Conflict

    Community Based Natural Resources Management

    KAZA and Trans-Border Wildlife Conservation

    February 17-18 2017: Extended Zimbabwe Study Trip: Victoria Falls:

    Tourism and its Role in the National Economy

    Environmental Impact of Tourism

    Ecotourism and Cultural Tourism

    Victoria Falls: What’s in a Name?

    Assignment #3: Discuss the socio-cultural, environmental and economic impacts of tourism in southern Africa using Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe as case studies.  Due 24 February 2017.


    • Fennell D. A, (2015) Ecotourism, New York, Routledge
    • Maathai W, (2009) The Challenge for Africa, Great Britain, Arrow Books
    • Atlhopheng J, Totens and E, Totolo T (1998) Environmental issues in Botswana: A handbook, Gaborone, Lightbooks
    • Mbaiwa J and Darkoh M (2006) Tourism and The Environment in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, Pula Press
    • Whelan T (1991) Nature Tourism: Managing for the Environment, USA, Island Press.

    February 19-March 10 2017: Extended Zimbabwe Study Trip Continued:

    The History of Zimbabwe pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial

    Race, Ethnicity and National Identity

    The Agrarian Revolution

    The History and Development of the Education System in Zimbabwe


    Human Rights, Democracy and Development


    Civil Society

    Assignment #4: “An estimated 10 million people worldwide are supported by the diamond industry with taxes and revenues providing healthcare, educational resources and develop the economies where the industry operates. The revenue is vital for the countries’ budgets; it allows to continue economic development of the region, to improve the living conditions of the population, to give people jobs and social infrastructure”, Andrey Polyakov, President of the World Diamond Council. In the context of the above, discuss, giving empirical evidence and statistics to back-up your argument, the importance and also challenges of diamond mining in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Due 28 March 2017.


    • Good K (2009) Diamonds, Dispossession and Democracy in Botswana, Johannesburg, Jacana Media.
    • Meredith M (2007) Diamonds, Gold and War: The Making of South Africa, Great Britain, Simon & Schuster.
    • Rodney W (1972) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Dar es Salaam, Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications.
    • Kiema K (2010)  Tears for My Land: A Social History of the Kua of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Tc’amnqoo, Gaborone, Mmegi Publishing House
    • Siphambe H (2005) Economic Development of Botswana: Facets, Policies, Problems and Prospects, Gaborone, Bay Publishing.

    March 11-April 01 2017: Homestay and Service Learning in Gaborone, Botswana:

    NGOs and Botswana’s Development Agenda

    HIV/AIDS and its Impact on Botswana

    OVCs and the Welfare System in Botswana

    First Peoples of Botswana and other Ethnic Minorities

    Urbanization and Development



    Education in Botswana

    Race and Ethnicity

    Gender and Human Rights

    The Kgotla System and Democracy

    Politics and Civil Society


    Assignment #5:”Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace” Nelson Mandela, former South African President and “…….you and I must strive to adapt ourselves, intellectually and spiritually to the reality of our political change and relate to each other as brothers bound one to another by a bond of national comradeship. If yesterday I fought as an enemy, today you have become a friend and ally with the same national interest, loyalty, rights and duties as myself. If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to me and me to you. Is it not folly, therefore, that in these circumstances anybody should seek to revive the wounds and grievances of the past? The wrongs of the past must now stand forgiven and forgotten. If ever we look to the past, let us do so for the lesson the past has taught us, namely that oppression and racism are inequities that must never again find scope in our political and social system. It could never be a correct justification that because whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress them today because they have power.” Robert Mugabe current President of Zimbabwe. In the context of the above, critically reflect on the peace, reconciliation and transitional justice in post-colonial Zimbabwe and South Africa in comparison to Botswana a country that, relatively speaking, did not suffer as much colonial injustices. A look at the Nuremburg Trials, as an alternative model, will help you to better understand some successes but also challenges that came along with southern Africa’s unique approach to reconciliation. Due 18 April 2017.


    • Mandela N (1994) Long Walk to Freedom, Great Britain, Little, Brown and Company
    • Edelstein J (1999) Truth and Lies, New York, The New Press
    • Freedom Park (2011) Tools, Time and Place: Looking over our Shoulders for Forward Movement, Pretoria, Freedom Park
    • Briley J (2011) Cry Freedom: The Legendary True Story of Steve Biko and the Friendship that Defied Apartheid, England, Penguin Books
    • Ramphele M (2008) Laying Ghosts to Rest: Dilemmas of Transformation in South Africa, Cape Town, NB Publishers.
    • Welsh D (2010), The Rise and Fall of Apartheid, Jeppestown, Jonathan Ball Publishers.


    April 02-21: Extended South Africa Study Trip:


    History of South Africa: An Overview

    The Rise and Fall of Apartheid

    Human Rights


    Truth and Reconciliation

    Post-Apartheid Success and Challenges

    The Bantustans and a Parallel Educational System

    Race, Ethnicity and Identity

    ANC and the Future of South Africa


    National Economy, Labor Migration and Xenophobia

    Healthcare and HIV/AIDS


    Assignment #6: Regional Development Issues in Southern Africa

    In order to provide a regional context for what students are learning in Botswana, and get a sense of the multiple ways countries in the Southern Africa Region choose to approach issues that are common across borders, students will take extended study trips to Zimbabwe and South Africa where they will explore such issues as, big game conservation and tourism, HIV-AIDS and healthcare, poverty, the colonial legacy, development, race and power. In Zimbabwe, students will visit Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Great Zimbabwe Monuments, and Matopos National Park. In South Africa, students will explore Pretoria, Soweto; attend a rugby or soccer match, visit Madikwe Game Reserve and Kruger National Game Park. Upon returning to Gaborone, Botswana, students will be asked to reflect on their learning in a major paper in which they will analyze how one particular issue plays out across the three countries.

    Learning for this component of the course will be assessed through a major, reflective paper that asks students to pick on one particular issue that plays out across the three countries and:-

    1. critically reflect on the issue and discuss how it manifests in daily lives of the people throughout the three countries
    2. enumerate the different strategies that the governments of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe and non-governmental organizations are currently deploying with a view to ameliorating the effects of your identified issue and
    3. Analyze and discuss your chosen topic within your own cultural frame of reference (e.g. what is the Americans’ take on the impact of globalization on the developing world?). Due 27 April 2017

     Assignment #7: Cross-cultural Journey

    Refer to concepts covered in class, lectures, readings, and the culture section of you pre-departure handbook, the culture learning workshop and other sources (e.g. internet) to describe and analyze your cross-cultural journey over the course of the program. Draw a diagram (based roughly on the u-curve model or another appropriate model) that fits your own, very personal and unique experiences. Relate each section of your curve (e.g. euphoria, culture shock, recovery, adjustment, etc.) to what was happening on the program (e.g. village stay, study trips, first day at internship, ISP) and what was happening to you personally (e.g. struggling with language, first day with family, encounter with my neighbor, amazing day with my host sister, critical encounter with my host father, etc.). Provide a detailed written description of key parts of your journey (major events, critical encounters, challenges, triumphs, etc.) that serve to mark turning points in your personal adjustment curve. You will present your chart to the group during the final seminar and submit both the chart and your written descriptions of key parts of your cross-cultural journey to the course instructor. Due 26 May 2017.

    Assignment #8: DESIGN YOUR OWN (Ongoing throughout semester)

    You are free to tailor this assignment to your own interests and needs. The DYO is an opportunity for you to creatively explore, record and share your particular interests, obsessions, insights, reflections, struggles and memories emerging from your experiences of your time in southern Africa. Over the course of the whole semester, you will develop and produce this assignment in a way that reflects visually and/or in words, your experiences on the Program. Themes can include but are not limited to the following:              

                            Art/Architecture                                 Realizations

                            Music  (written)                                  Quotations

                            Contrasts                                            Cultural Intersections

                            Customs                                             Questions

                            People                                                 Places                                    

                            Poetry                                                 Proverbs

    You are welcome to mix topics, but if you want a more thorough look at one particular area, we suggest that you choose only one subject. For instance, if you select “Proverbs,” you could find one proverb each week, explain the meaning of each and describe how the proverb applies to everyday life in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. At the end of your stay, you would have a substantial collection of proverbs to take home with you.

    Make sure to explain, in writing, the connection your “Design Your Own” submission has to your Pitzer in Botswana experience. Due 26 May 2017.


    • Mukonori, F (2011) The Genesis of Violence in Zimbabwe, Harare, The House of Books
    • Storti, C (2007) The Art of Crossing Cultures, USA, Nicholas Brealey Publishers
    • Russell A (2010) After Mandela: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa, London, Windmill Books.
    • Chappell R (2005) “Race, Gender and Sport in Post-Apartheid South Africa”.
    • Africa Leadership Forum (1991) “The Challenges of Post-Apartheid South Africa”
    • Mbeki, M (2009) Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing, South Africa, Picador.
    • du Preez Bezdrob A M (2003) Winnie Mandela: A Life, Cape Town, Zebra Press.
    • Nolen S (2007) 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, UK, Portobello.


    It is important to note that all the topics covered serve as an extension of the theoretical and experiential knowledge acquired throughout the program including all the study trips. NB: Topics and study trips are subject to change from semester to semester.

    Assessment of this component of the course will be based on participation in discussion sessions with guest speakers, program staff and student peers, as well as in fieldbook written assignments, where students are expected to integrate lecture topics and readings with their own observations, interviews and conversations with host family and other community members around issues and ideas covered in the course.

    Study trips will help deepen our students’ understanding of topics covered in the Socio-political Change in Botswana, South Africa & Zimbabwe course. Several study trips will be organized to areas of cultural, historical, political, and environmental interest in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Locations, that will change from semester to semester, include:

    • Chobe National Game Park
    • The Okavango Delta
    • Jwaneng Diamond Mine
    • Mokolodi Nature Reserve
    • Moremi Game Reserve
    • Victoria Falls
    • Great Zimbabwe Monuments
    • Hwange National Game Park
    • Matopos National Park
    • The National Art Gallery
    • Union Buildings
    • Freedom Park
    • Voetrekker Monument
    • Apartheid Museum
    • Mandela House Museum
    • Desmond Tutu House
    • Kruger National Park
    • Madikwe Game Reserve

    The Fieldbook-A Portfolio of Writing:

    Writing is one of the deepest and most precise measures of experience and an activity that both generates and reflects learning. Demanding of your time and intellect, the fieldbook integrates the theoretical and experiential components of the program through a series of structured writing assignments.

    The fieldbook provides you with an opportunity during your time in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe to record, evaluate, and communicate your thoughts, observations, and feelings on a range of areas central to the sub-regional life: family, religion, women’s issues, development, health, agriculture and the environment, etc. It will help you to clarify and articulate your feelings, thoughts, insights and beliefs as they evolve over the program and provide a forum for discussion of those ideas with program staff and other participants.

    Whatever the subject, assignments will ask you to synthesize material from traditional sources such as lectures and readings with what you learn through in-depth conversations and interviews with people across the sub-region. The fieldbook asks you to make the most of your valuable time on the Program not by isolating your ideas from your experience, but by combining academic reflection and experience into a more meaningful whole.

    Please note:

    • Assignments are due on the indicated dates.
    • The length of your responses should be, on average, 4-5 typewritten pages.
    • Please type all your assignments.
    • Late assignments will be marked down a full grade per week late (e.g., A becomes B).
    • Assignments more than two weeks late will not be accepted.
    • Please write your full name, title of the assignment, date, and the semester (e.g., Fall 2011) on top of the first page of your essay. Write your name and page number on each subsequent page as well.
    • Graded assignments that were turned in on time can be rewritten (according to the instructor’s comments) and submitted for additional marks (up to a full credit) up to two weeks after the papers are handed back.

    In your responses, please be sure to include:

    • Substantial material from conversations and interviews with interviewees from a variety of vantage points of view.
    • Evidence for your arguments and points of view.
    • Definitions of key terms – e.g. modernization, poverty, development, democracy, etc.
    • Material from relevant readings and lectures. Required readings are critical if you are to score a higher grade.
    • Self-awareness about methods and assumptions.
    • Multiple perspectives and points of view.
    • Introduction and conclusions where appropriate.

    Be sure to provide necessary context and background information–cultural, historical, etc. in your papers. Your writing should include and integrate academic reflection, in-depth discussions with interviewees, personal experience, and other sources–required readings, lectures, newspaper articles, study trips, etc.–to provide a multi-faceted, in-depth discussion and analysis of your topic.

    Assessment of Field Book Assignments

    In assessing your fieldbook assignments we will be looking for writing that shows evidence of the following that reflect the learning outcomes for the course:

    1) Interaction with members of the host culture(s) around specific issues and topics addressed in the assignment (detailed conversations and interviews with people in Batswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe).

    2) Analysis of issues from multiple perspectives within the host cultures (checks tendency to make overgeneralizations about the culture based on one person or one group’s perspective).

    3) Integration of personal experience and/or observations (especially conversations with people in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe) with readings and lectures.

    4) Non-judgmental observations about the new cultures of the sub-region.

    5) Acknowledging and expressing personal feelings that arise through interactions with the host culture(s) without judging host culture(s).

    6) Empathy, respect, and understanding for the host cultures’ perspective.

    7) A global-local reflection on culture: new understandings/perspectives of own culture based on interactions with sub-regional cultures and/or visa-versa.

    8) A heightened sense/greater understanding of issues of social justice related to topic/assignment.

    9) A global-local reflection on issues and ideas: an analysis of issues, ideas, events from perspectives of own culture and that of host community/culture(s)

    Overall Grading Criteria for the Core Course 

    Assessment for the course will be based on full participation in all aspects of the program including lectures, seminars/discussions, homestays, study trips, and satisfactory completion of all required assignments.

    Evaluation of the course will be based on the following percentages:

    35% – The Botswana Fieldbook:  Portfolio of Writing Assignments

    10% – Regional Development in Southern Africa: Tri-Country Reflective Paper

    15% – Punctual attendance and full participation in all classes, meetings and

    15% – Program activities leading to a contribution to the learning of others (in the

    group) in the spirit of cooperative learning.

    15% – An on-going commitment to culture learning that informs your interactions

    with staff, faculty, host families, community members and fellow students (i.e,   culturally appropriate interactions that respect local cultural values and beliefs,

    including local and national laws.


    15% – Participation within your homestays: This includes, but is not limited to, your

    efforts to integrate into the life of your host family and play your part as a

    significant member of the family, respect for host family rules and cultural

    norms, and integration of learning from your host family experience into

    discussion sessions and written assignments.


    10% – Taking responsibility for your own as well as other participants’ safety and

    health by following program rules and guidelines (e.g. staying within the confines of where the Program operates for the entire duration of the program), following program rules for alcohol and drugs, etc.)

    Full participation is the common thread that permeates through all the program components and grading criteria. For this reason, the Socio-political Change in Botswana, South Africa & Zimbabwe course can only be taken for a numerical and a corresponding letter grade.  Students are also not allowed to take the course on a pass/no credit basis.

    The final grade for the course will be based on the following scale:

    92 +               = A

    90 to 91         = A-

    88 to 89         = B+

    82 to 87         = B

    80 to 81         = B-

    78 to 79         = C+

    72 to 77         = C

    NB: Pitzer College will only transfer letter grades to your various institutions.

    Recommended Readings: 

    1. Dutfield M (1990) A Marriage of Inconvenience: The Persecution of Seretse and Ruth Khama, Gaborone, Pula Press
    2. Ramahobo N (1999) The National Language-A Resource or a Problem, Gaborone, Pula Press.
    3. Parsons N, Tlou T, (1995) Seretse Khama 1921-1980, Gaborone, Botswana Society
    4. Williams S (2007) Color Bar: The Triumph of Seretse Khama and his Nation, UK, Penguin Books
    5. HIV/AIDS; Money matters: sciencemag.com vol321 256 July 2008
    6. Food Insufficiency Is associated with high risk sexual behaviour among woman in Botswana and Swaziland plosmedicine.org October 2007 volume 4 issue
    7. Holms J, D and Botlhale E (2008) Persistence and Decline of Traditional Authority In Modern Botswana Politics Botswana notes and records, volume 40,
    8. Emerson, R.M and XXXX (1995) Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, USA, The University of Chicago Press
    9. Mgadla, P.T (2003) A History of Education in The Bechuanaland Protectorate to 1965, New York, University Press of America
    10. Andersson, L (1997) Languages in Botswana, Gaborone, Longman
    11. Willet, S (2003) The Khoe and San: An Annotated Bibliography Vol Two, Botswana, Light Books.
    12. Mazonde, N, I (ed) (2002) Minorities in the Millennium: Perspectives from Botswana, Gaborone, Lightbooks.
    13. Maxwell, E. and Mogwe, A (2006) In the Shadow of Noose, Botswana, Bay Publishing Company.
    14. Steinberg J (2008) Three Letter Plague: A Young Man’s Journey Through a Great Epidemic, Johannesburg, Jonathan Ball Publishers.
    15. Elkind P, L (1998) Tonderai: Studying Abroad in Zimbabwe, California, Lost Coast Press.
    16. Sissons, J (2005) First Peoples: Indigenous Cultures and their Futures, London, Reaktion Books
    17. Ellert, H (1984) The Material Culture of Zimbabwe, Harare, Longman
    18. Head, B (1986) When Rain Clouds Gather, Oxford, Heinemann
    19. Head, B (1971) Maru, Oxford, Heinemann
    20. Head, B (1993) The Cardinals, South Africa, David Philip
    21. Main, M (2007) Culture Smart: Botswana, London, Kuperard
    22. Dow, U and Essex, M (2010) Saturday is Funerals, Cambridge, Harvard University Press
    23. Dengu-Zvobgo, K, Donzwa, B, R, et al (1994) Inheritance in Zimbabwe: Law, Customs and Practices, Harare, Sapes Trust

    [1] These learning outcomes are adapted from a more extensive list of student learning outcomes applicable on all Pitzer direct run study abroad programs. See: Richard Slimbach, “The Transcultural Journey,” Frontiers: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. Vol. 11, (2005) and Mike Donahue, Pitzer in Nepal Comprehensive Review Self Study Report – October 2010

    Pitzer College in Botswana

    Gaborone, Botswana

    Sample Syllabus Spring 2017

    Intensive Setswana Language Course

    Setswana Language and Culture Course Outline

    Course Introduction:

    As part of your academic studies, you are required to enroll in an Intensive Setswana Language course offered by Pitzer College in Botswana. This part of the course happens in a rural village of Manynana that is about one hour west of Gaborone, the capitol. Students will stay with homestays that will provide you not only with an additional layer of support but also unique and exciting opportunities for you to practice your Setswana speaking skills and to immerse in the local culture.

    As part of our endeavor to ensure that you have a well grounded and experiential learning experience we will adopt the communicative and functional approach to teaching and learning the language. This will entail active participation on your part. Every day, Monday through Friday, you are expected to attend class and participate in skits, demonstrations, role plays, games and songs. After school you are expected to practice your Setswana speaking skills with your siblings especially as you work on your daily homework

    The Intensive Setswana Language Course is designed and coordinated by Pitzer in Botswana staff and is specifically meant only for our own students. This course is designed in such a way that it provides you with an opportunity to engage the host culture and be able to use your newly acquired Setswana language skills. In addition to using your Setswana language, the course will also provide you with an opportunity-through various assignments that you will be required to do- to have a deeper and therefore meaningful understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a Motswana. Put differently, the Intensive Setswana Language Course will give you a window through which you will be able to learn from and be a part of your host culture.

    At a different level, the Intensive Setswana Language Course will also provide you with the space and time to have your language and other cross cultural issues and concerns be addressed in a non-intimidating environment.

    Course Description:

    This is a 1.0 credits (4 semester units) course that is designed specifically to enable you to have an appreciation and understanding of spoken Setswana language in your everyday interaction with the host culture. Please note that this is a task based course which requires students to take the lead in accomplishing the goals and objectives of the course. Additionally, the course will serve as a lab session where students’ language issues and concerns are addressed. Throughout the duration of the Intensive Setswana Language Course, lectures, study trips as well as other activities will also be scheduled in a bid to help you not only deepen your understanding of the host culture but to also enable you to effectively function in the cross-cultural environment.

    • Course Coordinator: Ms Phono Magosi
    • Course Contact Hours: 80
    • Course Credit: 1.0 credits (4 semester units)


    1. Cross-Cultural Activities:- In order for students to be able to broaden their perspectives as well as promote their cultural awareness and understanding, a number of activities such as cross cultural games will be held throughout the duration of the course. The first of these activities will be held during your first week in Gaborone, Botswana. As noted above, these activities are designed to enable participants to recognize differences and help develop effective strategies to respond to and engage difference in a non-judgmental and respectful manner.
    2. Homework Assignments:- Relying on primary sources (your host families for example) for information; these daily assignments are designed in such a way that they provide you with an opportunity to engage with the local culture in a meaningful way. The onus is on you as a student of culture to take the initiative and reach out to members of the host culture in order for you to begin to explore a number of these complex issues in considerable depth. You are also encouraged to interview a number of people from diverse vantage points in order for you to have a holistic appreciation of issues under review. Daily assignments will count towards your final grade for the course.
    3. Setswana Cultural Lectures:- In order for you to have a holistic understanding and appreciation of Setswana culture, a number of guest speakers will be invited to speak on a number of topical issues in Botswana. These lectures will include but are not limited to courtship and marriage, Setswana cultural traditions, values and mores, issues of governance and the role of dikgosi (chiefs) in a modern day Botswana etc.  Please note that lectures are subject to change from semester to semester.
    4. Study Trips:- In addition to the above, a number of study trips, which will incorporate the use of Setswana language, will also be a part of the Intensive Setswana Language Course both in the village and throughout the semester. Specific historical and cultural sites of interest will vary from semester to semester. Study trips and lectures will also enable you to have a better understanding of some of the socio-economic issues with which Botswana is currently grappling.
    5. Scavenger Hunt:- ensures that students will have an opportunity to not only explore their new environment but also engage the local community. During orientation students will be sent out on a scavenger hunt expedition with a view to get them familiar with their new environment. The expedition will also provide the students with an opportunity to bond with each other.
    6. Village Homestay:- Botswana, just like any other African society, is affected by urbanization, westernization and modernization and as such your stay in Manyana will introduce you to some spaces where you will be able to experience some traditional aspects of Setswana culture. These include but not limited to Kgotla visits, cattle posts and masimo, markets, churches, etc. This is before taking you to Zimbabwe and South Africa and eventually Gaborone. This is so to ensure that you are exposed to as many different socio-economic spaces in Botswana and the rest of the sub-Region as is possible. The Directed Independent Study Project (DISP) will give you another opportunity to hit a different place in Botswana!
    7. Mid-Term and Final Examinations:- Halfway through our taught classes you will be given a written test and another one at the end of the course. These two tests will contribute towards your final Intensive Setswana Language grade.
    8. Research Assignment:- In order to increase the depth and breadth of your understanding of Setswana culture you will be required to come up with a topic of your interest by the end of first week of your stay in the village. Please make sure to choose a topic that you are really interested in, for example, Setswana traditional and contemporary music, Setswana traditional food, religion, traditional governance, family forms in Setswana, rites of passage etc. As soon as you have identified a topic of your choice you are required to communicate this to the Course Coordinator by the set date.

    Having identified your topic of interest you should briefly describe how you are going to conduct your research. Please note that we are not expecting a piece of theoretical research but rather we would like you to conduct site visits and work which demonstrates experiential learning. For example you can say “I will work with a local dance troupe in Manyana and get to learn about traditional dance and songs in Botswana”. Or if, for example, you choose to focus your research on Setswana traditional foods, you can opt to work with your host family and learn about Setswana traditional foods. This way you will be able to have a much more grounded appreciation of your chosen topic.

    Having conducted your empirical research you are then expected to document your findings. This documentation can be in many forms such as a paper, a PowerPoint presentation, or a drama script or a mixture of different forms. Your final product will be due by the end of your village stay. This component of the course will contribute towards your final Intensive Setswana Language Course grade.

    NB:- we would like to encourage you to think of a topic that will give you a hands-on/experiential approach that facilitates students’ active participation in the research and learning process.


    At the end of the semester, you will earn a letter and number grade based on the following points:

    1. Attendance and Participation in Discussions & Exercises 100 points
    • Ability to Use Language from Previous Lessons       (25 pts)
    • Effort to Learn and Use Setswana                             (10 pts)
    • Effort to Use Setswana Only in Class                        (10 pts)
    • Completion of Charts                                                 (10 pts)
    • Day in the Life                                                            (10 pts)
    • Homework                                                                  (10 pts)
    • Words cleaned from other sources                            (25 pts)
    1. Village Research Project                             100 points
    • An appropriate hands-on research topic                   (15%)
    • Research preparatory work/Research Methods        (15%)
    • Final Product                                                             (60%)
    • Creativity and style                                                    (10%)
    1. Mid and Final Examinations (30% & 50% respectively)             100 points
    • Mid-Program Examination (Written)                              (50 pts)
    • Final Examination (Oral)                                               (50 pts)


    Total Points possible                                      300 points   (100%)

    The following grades will be for your assignments:-

    92 +                = A

    90 to 91         = A-

    88 to 89         = B+

    82 to 87         = B

    80 to 81         = B-

    78 to 79         = C+

    72 to 77         = C

    NB: Pitzer College will only transfer letter grades to your various institutions.

    Course Requirements

    Attendance and Participation in Class:

    Class attendance is of paramount importance in final course grades.  You will receive points for each class meeting you attend and participate in. If you are more than 10 minutes late, you will receive 0 points.

    Each student is required to participate in class by keeping a class journal, making comments and observations, sharing experiences, asking questions of the teacher/invited professors and other students.  Dialogue is encouraged as it helps facilitate a climate of mutual respect.  Side conversations (e.g., whispering to one student while others or the professor is talking) are very disruptive, disrespectful and will not be accepted. PLEASE KEEP YOUR CELL PHONES IN SILENT MODE WHILE IN CLASS

    NB:- All components (described above) are required in order for one to pass the course.

    Grading Criteria

    The “A” Student—An Outstanding Student

    Perfect attendance

    Prepared for each class session

    Evidence of growing interest in the subject

    Able to connect past learning with the present and demonstrate this during in-class discussions

    Has a positive openness to new ideas and information

    Shows confidence and is not afraid to “think outside the box”

    Explores creative solutions to problems

    Makes high grades on course

    The “B” Student—The Above-Average or Good Student

    Takes absences seriously – might have other interests

    Completes assignments but at times the responses may lack depth of thinking and originality

    Enjoys class but the goal is “grade more than the learning”

    Work is complete but might lack critical thinking, originality, and creativity.

    The “C” Student—An Average or Typical Student

    Misses class quite frequently.

    Prepares assignments consistently but in a perfunctory manner, sloppy or careless.  At times, it is incomplete or late.

    Is not committed to class, lack of enthusiasm and energy

    Seems to have difficulty finding ways to create solutions to problems that require out of the ordinary effort or ingenuity.

    Obtains mediocre or inconsistent results on course assignments.

    Below are some of the activities (please note that specific trips and activities will be confirmed on site) that this course will entail:

    Cross-Cultural Activities

    1. Cross-cultural simulation games which facilitates cross-cultural interaction.
    2. Exercises which facilitate interaction of students with their UB peers and the community at large (ask students to interview a number of Batswana on what they think are hallmarks of Setswana culture. Ask the students to report back to class)
    3. Ask students to interview a number of Batswana on their perceptions of America and American culture and ask them to report to class etc.

    Course Lectures

    1. Courtship and marriage in traditional and contemporary Botswana
    2. Traditional healing and African Traditional Religion vs. Christianity
    3. Issues of governance
    4. The evolution of Setswana language and culture
    5. Traditional Setswana values and mores in the face of modernization
    6. Socio-cultural factors leading to the spread of HIV/Aids in Botswana
    7. Gender Roles in a rapidly changing environment
    8. Tourism and its impact on the environment, etc.

    Study Trips

    1. The Kgotla (traditional local governance body)
    2. Archaeological sites around Gaborone
    3. House of chiefs and the Botswana parliament
    4. David Livingstone Mission/Kolobeng mission
    5. Local museums
    6. Primary and secondary schools
    7. Clinics or any other health facilities
    8. Nearby villages
    9. Juwaneng diamond mine
    10. Bahurutse Cultural Village
    11. Mokolodi Nature Reserve
    12. Gaborone Game Reserve
    13. Lions Park
    14. The Okavango Delta/Kasane/Chobe
    15. Victoria Falls
    16. Khama Rhino Sanctuary, etc

    DISP: Directed Independent Study Project 

    (1.0 course credit = 4 semester units)


    The Directed Independent Study Project (DISP) allows you to take one topic of special interest and explore it in depth. It presents a unique opportunity to utilize and build upon your language skills and cross-cultural competencies as you form new relationships with members of the host culture related to your field of study and systematically explore your topic of interest.

    Types of Projects:

    The DISP may take one of several forms depending on your interests, available resources in the host culture, feasibility of the project, and the credit requirements of your home institution.

    Research Project:

    Use field research techniques that facilitate cultural immersion and language learning (oral interviews, ethnographies, case histories) to investigate a question or issue of personal interest that brings you a deeper understanding of the host culture.

    A variety of options/topics are available including participating on some of the longitudinal research that’s being done by the University of Botswana professors and other researchers.


    Work within a private, public or educational organization to gain insights into how a particular social issue is being addressed. Use your language to interact with both agency professionals and the clients served by the agency. Analyze the effectiveness of the organization as well as the issue it is addressing.

    Available options include a variety of governmental and NGOs in fields such as:

    1. Public health
    2. Wildlife and environmental conservation
    3. Human rights
    4. Indigenous peoples’ rights
    5. Media
    6. Pitzer-Botswana Vaccine Institute
    7. Gender and women’s rights
    8. Orphanages and schools
    9. Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Center
    10. The cattle industry
    11. Diamond mining
    12. Micro-finance
    13. Southern African Development Community (SADC)
    14. House of Chiefs

    Apprenticeship/Internship in the Arts:

    Work with an artist, dance troupe, theatre group, etc., to both learn a new art form and better understand its role in contemporary culture.

    Apprenticeship options includes:

    1. Setswana traditional musical instruments
    2. Basket weaving
    3. Stone sculpting
    4. Wood sculpting
    5. Pottery
    6. Visual arts
    7. Traditional song and dance


    All projects, regardless of form and topic require the following:

    1. A focused research question or topic that is viable and feasible given your progress in the language, your experience with field research, the time allotted and the available resources.
    1. An appropriate methodology for exploring your topic.
    1. A significant period of hands-on fieldwork that requires interaction with members of the host culture who are directly involved in your study topic.
    1. A major paper reflecting on the experience.


    Grading will take into account the process (e.g., proposal, methodology, relationship building, field work, internship performance, presentation of findings to program staff and students) as well as the final paper.


    Suggested Grading Criteria for an APPRENTICESHIP DISP

    Possible Grade Actual Grade
    1. Abstract   5
    2. Effort/ Desire to Learn   30
    3. Mastery of Technique/Art Form   20
    4. Creativity & Style   15
    5. Final Product/ Performance   10
    6. Written Paper   10
    7. Other Contributions   10
    10. Final Grade Scored: 100



    Suggested Grading Criteria for an INTERNSHIP DISP

    Possible Grade Actual Grade
    1. Abstract    5
    2. Partcipation in the Organization    10
    3. Appreciation of Organization’s Goal   10
    4. Contribution to Organization   30
    5. Assimilation into Organization   20
    6. Written Paper   20
    7. Presentation of Final Report    5
    10. Final Grade Scored: 100



    Suggested Grading Criteria for a RESEARCH DISP

    Possible Grade Actual Grade
    1. Abstract    5
    2. Conceptual and Theoretical Framework (if any)   10
    3. Academic Content and Contribution to Knowledge   10
    4. Analysis of Data   20
    5. Explanation and Exposition   20
    6. Research Methodology   10
    7. Use of Relevant Literature   10
    8. Originality of Theme   10
    9. Suggestions of Further Research    5
    10. Total Grade Scored: 100

    The Directed Project:

    The term “directed” refers to the fact that all DISP proposals will be developed and approved in consultation with program staff, faculty, and local scholars or specialists. The relationships you form with program staff and local experts who help you to develop your proposal and guide your project are crucial and should be considered an important part of the learning process for the course. Depending on the project, its location and the resources available, actual fieldwork may be closely guided by program staff and/or local experts, or conducted entirely independently. Guidance for writing your final paper will be provided by your project adviser or program staff as requested and necessary. Program staff must approve DISP topics and locations. Some locations and topics will not be approved because of safety, health or other concerns.

    Library Research:

    The DISP is not library research. Exploring literature that is relevant to your topic will be an important step in formulating your proposal and in writing up your work in your final DISP paper, but the bulk of your DISP time should be spent using your language and cross-cultural skills to conduct actual field research.

    Interaction with Local Experts:

    Members of the host culture who have studied your topic often serve as important resources in picking a topic, choosing a location, developing a proposal with appropriate methodology, and, for placing your own work in the context of a larger body of work when you write your final paper. However, interviewing experts who have studied your topic, even when they are members of the host culture, should not be your primary means of collecting data and should not take up the bulk of your DISP time. The majority of your fieldwork should consist of hands-on work with people who are directly involved in your topic of interest. For example, the host culture university professor or NGO director, who is an expert on the role of women in village development, may provide you with important guidance for your project, but should not be seen as a substitute for working directly with village women actually involved in development efforts.

    The Use of Interpreters, Questionnaires or Surveys:

    The use of a bilingual informant to help you translate interviews or conversations you tape may be appropriate but you should design your project and plan your questions in ways that allow you to use and develop your own language skills. Project topics and methodology (questionnaires, surveys, etc.) should be designed to fit your language level whenever possible. Remember, the goal here is for you to learn about your area of interest in ways that allow you to interact directly with people involved in your topic. The relationships you form and the learning and growth you experience while doing this (which will be recorded in your final paper) will very likely become one of the most valuable and rewarding aspects of the program for you.

    Ethical Guidelines for the DISP:

    Students participating in DISPs abroad are held to high standards of academic and professional conduct, including adhering to the Ethical Standards for the Engagement of Communities Abroad.


    1. Pick a topic you are passionate about and that is feasible.
    2. Do something you can’t do at your home institution.
    3. Do something that enhances your language and culture learning.
    4. Do something that promotes interaction with members of the host culture who are directly involved in your topic of interest.
  • Study Trips

    To better understand important local and regional issues, students participate in a number of study trips while in each country.  While locations may vary slightly from semester to semester, study trips in Zimbabwe usually include: Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Zimbabwe Monument, and Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest protected area. In South Africa, students explore Pretoria and Johannesburg, study race relations, reconciliation, and post-Apartheid South Africa through visits to Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park, attend a rugby or soccer match, and visit Krueger National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve to study two contrasting styles of big game management.  In Botswana, students examine the progress made in HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment through the Baylor Clinic, reflect on important issues of social justice at Ditshwanelo Center for Human Rights, learn about local and traditional governance from the Chief of Manyana, and study big game conversation and tourism in the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park.  Students also spend time in Tanzania.

    Pitzer students at the apartheid museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Mike Donahue



  • Independent Study Projects

    Students explore a topic of interest through an independent study. Capstone projects are guided by local scholars, specialists, or program staff and may take the form of a research project (ethnographic research, environmental analysis, field ecology etc.), an apprenticeship (with an artist, craftsperson, dance troupe, theater group, etc.), an internship (with an NGO, government office, school, etc.) or work in the Vaccine Development Institute at the University of Botswana (for students with appropriate science backgrounds). For any of these projects, a significant analytical component in the form of a written report (and in some cases a film or other media studies format) provides the documentation of learning. This is the part of the program where students can often do something that counts towards their major that would be impossible to do on their home campus – often a great opportunity to begin work on a senior thesis.

    Independent Research Areas
    African History
    African Literature
    Development Studies
    Environmental Studies
    Gender Studies
    International Relations
    Political Studies
    Public Health
    Theater and Dance
    Traditional Arts
    Vulnerable Children and Orphans
    Wildlife Ecology

    Independent Study Project Titles

    Ditholwana and Traditional Dance in Botswana

    Press Freedom

    The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency: Building Business People in Maun, Botswana

    Reggae Music and Political Expression

    3P Productions and Botswana’s 40 Years of Independence

    Understanding the Limitations of Building and Consolidating the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions

    SAPSSI Activities and Boitumelo Mo Nageng Kids Camps for Orphans and Vulnerable Children: An in-Depth

    Reflection of Activities and Experiences

    The Youth Health Organization: Sharing Experiences

    Interning with the Youth Health Organization (YOHO), on Tour with the Dzalabana Bosole Arts Festival

    From Cattle to Carcass Meal: An analysis of Procedures at the BMC lobatse Abattoir.

    Healing HIV/AIDS in Setswana Culture: Four Case Studies.

    Perceptions of Traditional Medicine in Botswana.

    Art and Identity: The effects of globalisation on oppressed communities as reflected through their art.

    Odi Weavers: A Community Overcoming the Odds.

    Bogale: Appreciating the Segaba.

    Unspoken Language: A Closer Look at African Dance.

    Legkoa Journalism: My life as a Botswana Gazette Writer.

    Environmental Conservation in Botswana:The Role of an NGO

    The Lentswe la Oodi Producers Co-op

    Water: The Other Diamond of Botswana, A Study of Water Conservation

    The Revelation of AIDS in Botswana: BONAMODI

    Botlhale Jwa Phala Youth

    Botswana Power Corporation Workers Union: A historical analysis

    Internship at the Kalahari Conservation Society

    Decolonizing the Mind: The Case of Botswana

    The Diphalana Continuing Education Project

    Avoiding the Gallows: A Controversy over Capital Punishment in Botswana

    Traditional Song and Dance of Botswana

    House of Hope: A Community’s Response to the Impacts of HIV/AIDS

    The Legacy of Segametsi Mogomotsi

    Ditshwanelo, The Botswana Centre for Human Rights

    Internship with Women and Law in Southern Africa, Gaborone, Botswana: Struggles of LifeLine Botswana

    My Month in Gabane Pottery

    The Effects of Seed Age, Seed Size and Soil Composition on the Germination and Initial Seedling Growth on Colophospermum mopane.

    Oranges and Bananas and Mangoes (Oh My): Chobe farms and the Challenges of Agriculture in Northern Botswana.

    This is a research on challenges of commercial farming in Botswana using Chobe farms as a case study.

    Grey Matters and Living with Elephants

    Cohabitation in Botswana: The need for legislation.

    The Utilization of Traditional Vs. Modern Medicine: A Comparison of Urban and Rural Botswana.

    The Land Board as a Equalizing Institution: The Ngwato Land Board Case Study.

    Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo)

    Youth Popular Theater as a Community Education Tool in Botswana: Ghetto Artists Case Study.

    My Internship at The Botswana

    Traditional Egalitarianism: The Study of the Legal History of Rape.

    Traditional Dance in Modern Botswana Society

    Plastic Recycling: An Internship with Somarelang Tikologo and a look at urban environmental education in Botswana.

    Art as a Process for Cultural Identity and Critical Thinking

    Cultural Identity in a Changing Society: A Study of Traditional Songs of the Bangwaketse.

    Apprenticeship with Mogwana Traditional Dance Group: Traditional Dance in the Context of Botswana

    Mmegi: Investigative Reporting for the People.

    An internship with Botswana’s largest circulated newspaper and the role of print media in Botswana.

    The Attitude of Maun Residents Towards Maun Wildlife Education Park (MWEP)

    Home Based Care in Botswana and The Holy Cross Hospice: Their Relevance and Contribution in the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

    The Social Needs in Botswana’s Preschools

    The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Taking a look at what it is like working and planning in Gaborone.

    Access to Justice and The Criminality of Homosexuality in Botswana: The Case of Utjiwa Kanane.

    The Evolution of Drumming

    Refugees in Botswana: Stories, Frustrations, and Insights from Dukwi Refugee Camp.

    The Social Impacts of Elephants in Gidikwa: The Relationship Between the People and the Pachyderms.

    Surface Water Quality of Tamalakane River Maun, Botswana.

    The Thapong Experience.

    Basket-Weaving in Botswana: Still Really Something.

    The History of Printmaking in Africa and My Experience at Marothodi Ltd.

    Understanding Empowerment: Internship with Permaculture Trust of Botswana.

    Traditional Medicine in Botswana: The Past or the Future?

    Education as a Means of Socialization: Primary Education in Botswana.

    Trust for the Okavango Cultural and Development Initiatives: A Study in Grassroots Development – Itsoseng

    Bomme Basket Weavers Evaluative Report.

    Unification and Diversification of Music from An Untraditional Perspective in Botswana.

    Problem Animal Control and Moremi Game Reserve: A Case Study from the Perspective of a Wildlife Officer.

    My Life in the Bush: Large Carnivore Research with African Wildlife Foundation.

    SOS Kindergarten, Francistown, Botswana

    Care and Prevention go Hand in Hand: Botswana’s National Response to HIV/AIDS.

    The Centre for Strategic Studies: Helping Democracy Find a Place in the World of Defense and Security.

    The N/oakwe on the Road to Development.

    Mmino wa Setswana: Traditional Dance in Botswana.

    Thari Ya Sechaba: Traditional Midwives and Gaborone Birth Culture In the Age of AIDS

    The Risk and Resilience of San Peoples in Western Botswana: Working with the Kuru Family of Organizations

  • Family stays


    The heart of the Pitzer in Botswana program is the opportunity to live with a host family in each of the three countries. Host families serve as important co-educators on the program, not only for language and culture learning, but also as a way to allow students to further explore ideas and issues that are presented in lectures and readings. Students have two extended family stays in Botswana (rural and urban) and two week family stays in both South Africa and Zimbabwe.

    The Botswana family stays take place in the village of Manyana, for the first month of the program and then in the capital, Gaborone, during the middle and the final month of the program. In Manyana, most families are involved in seasonal farming activities focused primarily around sorghum, maize, and cattle.  Pitzer has a strong relationship with the community members as well as the Kgosi (Chief) and students quickly settle into the rhythms and hospitality of village life while participating fully in the community.  In Gaborone, students live with middle class, professional families while participating in service learning projects, and attending lectures by University of Botswana faculty and other experts.

    student_childrenSouth Africa
    Students live with host families in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto, the heart of anti-Apartheid struggles in the 1960s. Soweto was and continues to be a hive of activity that presents an ideal location for learning about post-Apartheid South Africa.

    Family stays are based in Harare, close to the City’s social and cultural center. Students live with professional families who provide a window into many of the issues facing Zimbabwe today.




  • Meet the Director

    Batsirai Chidzodzo
    Director, Pitzer in Botswana

    CL 10MA15 LB Batsirai Chidzodzo (4)
    Batsirai Chidzodzo. Photo by Laurie Babcock

    Batsirai (“Batsi”) Chidzodzo received his BA from the University of Zimbabwe and an MBA from De Montfort University, where he was recognized for his thesis focusing on the flight of intellectual capital from Zimbabwe. He also holds a diploma in Personnel Management from the Institute of Personnel Management of Zimbabwe.

    A native of Zimbabwe, Batsi has spent over twenty years working with US study abroad programs in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. Between 1995 and 2000 he worked as Pitzer’s language and culture instructor-cum-coordinator on our Zimbabwean program. In 2000 he moved with the program to Botswana where he worked as our assistant director before leaving to start and direct the CIEE program at the University of Botswana. For five years at CIEE he was instrumental in setting up the semester program, a summer public health program, and an ongoing International Faculty Development Seminar for faculty and staff coming from the US. When offered the opportunity to return to Pitzer in 2012 as director of the program, Batsirai was excited to accept because he believes in our educational model, respects our students, enjoys working with Pitzer faculty, and sees tremendous potential in the program. Pitzer College was delighted when he agreed to take the lead in improving the quality of the program and expanding the curriculum to include South Africa and Zimbabwe. Batsi’s research interests include the history and politics of Southern Africa in relation to global political history.