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Ubuntu Program

In Association with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation

Location: Pretoria, South Africa

“Studying abroad in South Africa changed my life. I understand myself, others, and the world much more deeply because of my experience there. I am happier now, and I have a newfound energy to change the world.”
— Canton Winer, Spring 2014

Student on safari with elephants in background

Based at the University of Pretoria, the leading research university in South Africa, in collaboration with The Jesuit Institute of South Africa and association with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Fordham’s Ubuntu Program offers students opportunities to do elective or major work while being active in service learning. Structured reflection sessions throughout the semester allow participants to consider the complexities and challenges facing Pretoria, specifically, and South Africa generally.

Read posts and see photos from the 2018 Ubuntu Program Blog.

Apply to the Program

Program Details


In the past few decades, South Africa's transformation has captured the attention of people around the world, and in recent years students have, in increasing numbers, sought educational opportunities abroad in this emerging democratic nation. The vast challenges faced by a society attempting to provide equal access to opportunity and the energy with which South Africans have committed themselves to bring about meaningful changes, provide an ideal environment for a study abroad program. Ubuntu, the Fordham in Pretoria program, offers you a structured and supportive environment for study and engagement with South African people and their history while also offering an array of opportunities to do valuable service and to reflect on your experience.


Required Courses

SOCI 3044 - Poverty and Community Development
This course provides an overview of the macro socio-economic and political context for development in achieving the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals as well as a forum for considering and analyzing poverty reduction strategies and their relevance in various community settings. From both a theoretical and experiential perspective, Ubuntu students will explore and critically discuss the place and role of participation, capacity building, empowerment and partnerships in sustainable development. They will also consider various ways of approaching community engagement and service-learning activities.

This course is a Peace and Justice Major or Minor course and satisfies the Interdisciplinary Capstone Course core requirement at Fordham University.

HIST 3789 - Modern South Africa Stories
In this course, students explore the relevant historical and socio-economic issues impacting the local communities, specific demographics and South Africa.

This course is a Peace and Justice Major or Minor course and satisfies the Advanced History core requirement at Fordham University.


Each participant will take two additional courses (modules) from one or more of the following departments at the University of Pretoria selected from the departments of Anthropology & Archaeology, Drama, Economic & Management Sciences, Education, English, Historical & Heritage Studies, International Relations, Journalism, Political Sciences, Social Work & Criminology, Sociology, and Theology.

Ubuntu: University of Pretoria Courses

UP modules of 19 credits and under will transfer as 3 Fordham credits.
UP modules of 20 credits or more will transfer as 4 Fordham credits.

Service Learning

The Service-Learning component of the program will be coordinated by the University of Pretoria. The practice lecturer for the sociology module will work closely with the program’s Academic Coordinator to develop schedules that provide participants a once-a-week full-day opportunity to meaningfully engage with the local community and do service of value.

In addition to the regular monthly service-learning reflection sessions, and as a complement to course work done at the University of Pretoria, the program will feature two reflective weekend retreats in North Pretoria as well as weekly one-on-one spirituality sessions designed to encourage participants to consider their academic and service-learning experience, in relation to larger questions about life, justice, faith and personal beliefs. Placement venues include:

Erasmus Community is a semi-rural settlement of roughly 10,000 people about an hour away from Pretoria with a community organization led by local residents actively engaged with projects in primary education, computer training, nutrition, childcare, agriculture, bridge building and other construction projects.

Soshanguve is a township situated next to Erasmus in the Gauteng Province. Although similar to Erasmus in many regards, it does have a wider infrastructure than Erasmus. Soshanguve is characterized as a poor township and its residents are eager to meet new people who want to work in the community. Students will work alongside qualified social workers from the South African Women Federation (SAWF) that operates in the community. Projects at Soshanguve include Soshanguve South Secondary School where students will have the opportunity to assist and become involved in the schools’ guidance program, and SAWF Community library where students will have the opportunity to organize and transform the develop the library.

The main mission of the Future Families organization is to provide quality, appropriate and relevant care to children and families infected by HIV/Aids in the townships of Mamelodi, Eersterust, Olievenhoutbosch and Sunnyside. Their model of intervention is hailed as very successful in the communities where Future Families serve and operate because of the large numbers of children that are involved. Ubuntu students can become involved in Future Families projects through the following channels: Educational Support, Mama Zama and Groupwork Activities.

Some students develop their own service projects in consultation with program staff and community organizations such as the "Art for Hope" project developed in 2015. For more information about this project, please review the "Art For Hope" Project Catalogue.


Students live at the Village in Hatfield Guest House. The housing complex is situated within walking distance of the LC De Villiers Sport Centre and The High Performance Centre, where national and international sports teams have trained for the Olympics and World Cup events. Hatfield Square, a shopping district, the University of Pretoria and Loftus Versveld Sports Stadium are all nearby. The housing complex features two bedroom cottages, each with a private entrance and surrounded by beautiful gardens. All cottages are fully equipped with en-suite bathrooms, TV’s and tea/coffee making facilities. Students also have access to a heated swimming pool and meals prepared by the in-house cook.

Student Services

Participants will have an orientation when they arrive in Pretoria. With sessions on health and safety, academics, local living, cultural adjustment, and community engagement, the goal of the orientation is to provide all students with information about the program and Pretoria, as well as to discuss their goals and expectations for the program.

University of Pretoria students will serve as mentors to participants throughout the semester, providing guidance and assistance in a number of areas including academics, logistics, housing and cultural integration. At least two mentors live with students in Hatfield and most of them regularly join program participants in activities and classes.

Throughout the semester, students will participate in a number of field trips and excursions. These will include visits to Soweto and other townships, homestays, a safari, as well as local visits to the Apartheid Museum, Nelson Mandela’s House in Johannesburg, the Voortrekker Monument and Museum, Freedom Park, the National Zoological Gardens and the Union Buildings. The program also includes a week-long visit to Cape Town and the surrounding areas. This excursion features homestays and visits to nearby Stellenbosch farms and vineyards.


Spring 2020 Dates:


January 25 - Students arrive in South Africa

February 3 - Classes commence

March 21-March 31 - University of Pretoria Recess

April 10-April 13 - Easter weekend

April 27 - Freedom Day, public holiday

May 1 - Workers' Day, public holiday

May 29 - University of Pretoria exams begin

June 16 - Youth Day, public holiday 

June 28 - Students depart South Africa