Penn-in-Grahamstown, South Africa

Dates | Courses | Housing | Tuition & Fees | Information Sessions | Apply| Photos | Contact

Celebrate the National Arts Festival in South Africa.

One of the largest in the world, the festival runs for 10-11 days, presenting the full spectrum of the performing and visual arts. The program combines online, hands-on experience and regular classroom instruction and learning including 5 online pre-departure meetings. These online classes introduce students to South African history, politics and performance histories, as well as dipping into current events. Once in South Africa, students attend about forty performances/events across artistic fields (music, theater, dance, visual arts) and gain insight into contemporary South African politics, history and culture.

Through deep immersion in the arts, students come to an understanding of the arts in [South] Africa as more than just entertainment, as core to the expression of everyday realities, critical thinking and knowledge acquisition. Students learn what it is to live in an extremely diverse—culturally, linguistically, in terms of politics, gender, social class—society. Students are challenged to rethink stereotypes about "Africa" through deep immersion in the wide range of subject matter addressed in the performances and other events at the National Arts Festival. This is a life changing experience.

Visit the Penn-in-Grahamstown Tumblr.

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Program Calendar 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016 Online pre-departure classes start
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 Recommended arrival in host country (Johannesburg or Cape Town, fly to Port Elizabeth, bus to Grahamstown)
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 Program housing first available
Wednesday, June 29, 2016, p.m. On-site orientation
Thursday, June 30 -
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Festival start/end
Thursday, June 30, 2016 Classes start
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 Classes end
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 Program housing last checkout date
Additional events and tours
July 11 or 12, 2016 Kwantu elephant sanctuary visit (full day)


All students register for a total of one course unit (c.u.). Course offerings are subject to change.
Course registration is completed by the Penn Summer Abroad office for students who confirm their intent to enroll and submit the required pre-departure documents.

Note for students from other academic institutions: One Penn c.u. is generally considered to be equivalent to three semester hours when transferred to another institution.

Contemporary South African Performance
Music 056 (1 c.u.)
Taught by Carol Muller, University of Pennsylvania
Fulfills requirement: Cross-Cultural Analysis.

Attending, analyzing and reflecting on festival performances/events is the course content. Students are given the opportunity to shape that content by selecting the performances they wish to attend: 1/3 music; 1/3 dance; 1/3 theater with some additional events added. The online portion provides a general introduction to 20th and 21st South African politics; performance history, and current events—all of this information is used to contextualize and give meaning to the festival experience, adding value to the course as a form of intercultural engagement and cross-cultural understanding.


Students live in single or double rooms at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

Tuition & Fees

Please note: Summer 2016 program fee will be posted in February 2016. The program fee is charged in addition to tuition, and normally covers program costs such as housing, meals, cultural excursions and local transportation. Tuition and fees are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice.

  • Tuition for Summer 2016: $3,910

Information Sessions

Join the program team for an information session to learn more about the details of the Penn-in-Grahamstown program.

  • Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 4 p.m., Williams 315
  • Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 4 p.m., Williams 315
  • Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 4 p.m., Williams 316


The application for Penn Summer Abroad 2016 will be opening later this year.

  • Early admission deadline: Friday, January 15, 2016
  • Rolling admissions continue until the program reaches capacity

Apply Now


View photos from past Penn-in-Grahamstown trips.

Contact Information

For details about the program, courses, or location including academic advising, travel dates, housing and orientation:

Program Director
Carol Muller
Professor of Ethnomusicology
University of Pennsylvania
Tel: (215) 898-7544

For assistance with application, financial questions, pre-departure or other general information:

Penn Summer Abroad
College of Liberal & Professional Studies (LPS)
University of Pennsylvania
3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335
Tel: (215) 746-7075
Fax: (215) 573-2053