This experiential urban sociology course, based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, examines the history and contemporary practices of social exclusion and resistance in urban South Africa. Organized around the theme of “the right to the city,” the readings, lectures, and excursions are designed to help students understand processes of spatial segregation and social exclusion, as well as how claims for inclusion are being made, particularly as South Africa becomes more deeply integrated in global economic and cultural networks. Emphasizing the distinct experiences of apartheid and post-apartheid development in Cape Town and Johannesburg, specific topics include planning and architecture; labor in the formal and informal sectors; policing and criminality; environmental justice; evictions, gentrification; and urban social movements.

Application Procedure

  • Application Open: October 15, 2016
  • * Priority Deadline: November 22, 2016
  • Application Deadline: February 1, 2017
Submit to GEO
  • GEO Application: All applicants must complete the GEO application. This is the first step for applying to any program.
  • $500 non-refundable deposit: Deposits must be paid through NUPay. Be sure to select the appropriate summer term.
  • Photocopy of Passport: This is to be given to your faculty leader after acceptance.
  • Faculty Interview: Faculty will schedule interviews with applicants of interest to determine acceptance. The interviews can occur anytime between the priority and final deadline.
  • Essay Questions: Answer each question in 2-3 paragraphs (completed online via GEO application).
    • What are your personal and academic reasons for wishing to participate in this Dialogue of Civilizations program?
    • How will the program further your academic and career goals?
    • What is your previous travel and language experience, if any?
    • What courses have you taken which are directly relevant to the program?

Applications are not considered complete until deposit is received. This deposit will be applied to the full cost of the program.

* Priority Deadline: All students that apply by the priority deadline will be considered for admission, as all dialogues remain open until the priority deadline. After the priority deadline, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the program fills. Programs are subject to close anytime between the priority deadline and the application deadline when a program receives the maximum number of students.

Update My Travel Plans on MyNEU
Once you have been accepted into the program and your the flight and accommodation details have been shared with you, you are required to create an entry in My Travel Plans for the trip. Please be sure to enter the following pieces of information:
  • Personal and Emergency Contact Info
  • HealthTravel Info: Dates, flight and accommodation details, etc.
  • Passport Details: Passport number, Expiration date, Passport Country of issue, etc.

Please refer to this step-by-step user’s guide for directions on how to navigate the My Travel Plans system.

Should you fail to complete this step as directed, you may be prevented from traveling, may not receive credit for courses, and/or may be excluded from participating in other Northeastern global programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Studying abroad requires a valid passport. You may also need a visa and/or other travel documents. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your documents are valid and appropriate to the nature of your program.

Minimum Requirements
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA: 2.50
  • Minimum Semesters: Minimum of 2 completed Northeastern semesters at the time of program start date. NUin students are eligible to apply during their first semester on the Boston campus. Transfer and Global Pathways students contact GEO program coordinator for eligibility.


  • ANTH2306 - Global Markets Local Cultures : Globalization is a critical feature of modern life, helping to reshape markets, transform politics, reconfigure social structures, and remake cultural practices in localities throughout the world. But it is not simply a set of forces and processes that are enacted “from above.” Rather, macro-level forces are mediated and shaped by local cultures, sub-national politics, and social practices in communities, neighborhoods, villages, cities, and nations around the world. This course explores the varied and often contradictory processes and consequences of global capitalist development, with a particular focus on experiences in various places in Africa. In particular, the course will examine four topics that are especially helpful for understanding the local consequences of expanding global markets on the African continent. 1) Global markets and neoliberal policies, focusing in particular on the structural adjustment policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. 2) Transnational activism and the links between local organizations and transnational movements. 3) Global land grabs, focusing on the emergence of new global land markets, the implications for rural populations and agricultural laborers, and what can be done about it. 4) Global cultural flows, particularly the new cultural forms and aspirations that are produced through the global circulation of media and technology. Under these broad topics and questions, the course readings, discussions, assignments, and excursions will help us think about how globalization and global movements are reshaping the places we are seeing and experiencing in South Africa.
  • SOCL2359 - Current Issues in Cities and Suburbs : Cities have long been recognized as paradoxical spaces. On one hand, urban labor markets and dense residential neighborhood crystalize inequalities and exacerbate disparities along political, economic, and ethno-racial lines. But cities have also been celebrated for their emancipatory potential. As key sites of both social exclusion and political resistance, cities are where political claims and demands for justice are most frequently made, often with tangible and liberating consequences. In few places are these paradoxes and possibilities more apparent than in post-apartheid urban South Africa. Twenty years after the official end of apartheid, South African cities remain divided spaces where racial disparities are tightly woven into the fabric of urban neighborhoods, public spaces, work places, and sites of leisure. Yet exclusion and racial exclusivity have been most bitterly contested on these same urban streets and in these neighborhoods and public spaces, both during and since the end of apartheid. This experiential urban sociology course explores the modern urban experience with a focus on South Africa’s three largest cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Organized around the theme of social exclusion and resistance, the seminar examines the history and contemporary practices of racial exclusion and resistance in urban South Africa and considers how these practices are changing, particularly in light of global economic and cultural integration. The course readings, guest lectures, discussions, assignments, and excursions will explore the forms of social exclusion in the city; how ideologies of exclusion become embedded in the physical fabric of cities, shape opportunity and life chances, and push certain groups to the margins; and how exclusion is resisted and dismantled through social and political movements. Emphasizing distinct experiences in apartheid and post-apartheid Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, specific topics include exclusionary urban planning and gated communities; employment and labor movements in the formal and informal sectors; policing and criminalization; environmental justice struggles; evictions, “land grabs,” and development-induced displacement; and urban social movements.


Northeastern Tuition: $11,680
  • Tuition covers 8 Northeastern credits.

Dialogue of Civilizations Fee: $2,500
  • Round-trip airfare from Boston, housing for program duration, International Security and Emergency Support, as well as some local transport, excursions and group meals.

GEO offers scholarships and grants for students studying abroad on Dialogue of Civilizations programs. Please visit our Scholarships page for more info!


The course will begin with approximately two weeks in Johannesburg, followed by a little more than two weeks in Cape Town. South Africa’s two largest cities have distinct histories and cultures and access to different kinds of natural beauty.


  • Hostel: In Johannesburg, students will stay in the bohemian suburb of Melville, in a Bed & Breakfast called Life on Third. The B&B has wi-fi and a library onsite, as well as a tropical garden courtyard. A full English breakfast is served each morning in the cozy dining room.
  • Hostel: In Cape Town, accommodations will be provided in the bustling, seaside neighborhood of Sea Point. Students will stay in a modern comfortable hotel called Mojo, which is a mere a block from the beaches off Sea Point Promenade. 

Host University or Organization

The African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town will host the Dialogue and a faculty member from the Centre, Dr. Sophie Oldfield, will co-teach one of the courses. The ACC is a degree-grating program and research center within the University Cape Town, facilitating critical urban research and policy discourses for the promotion of vibrant, democratic and sustainable urban development in the global South from an African perspective.

Faculty Advisor