A South African Perspective on Politics, Governance, and Social Change

South African Residency

In May 2016, students participated in GSPM’s first Global Perspective Residency (GPR) in South Africa. The experience was particularly insightful for those interested in social change and grassroots politics given the history of the anti-apartheid movement and ongoing student protests in the country.

Despite being in South Africa for only a week, students traveled to Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. In Pretoria and Johannesburg, students met with members of the executive branch including the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation; leaders in the mining, public affairs, and NGO sectors; and student leaders, including some involved in the #FeesMustFall movement. In Cape Town, students learned about Parliament and met with Zkhele Mbhele, a member of the Democratic Alliance party in the National Assembly. Students also had an opportunity to meet with a private company that promotes economic development within townships by identifying markets of demand and partnering with large corporations.

The trip concluded with a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held for the last 18 of his 27 years in prison. That, in combination with our visit to the Apartheid Museum, served as a powerful reminder of how far-reaching the impacts of political strategy and tactics can be – whether it’s forming public-private partnerships to combat the transmission of HIV/AIDS or changing the power structures within a deeply divided society.