New Summer Program Added in South Africa
On Tuesday, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies announced a new program for summer 2011 in Grahamstown, South Africa. Applications are now open for the program — which will accept between 20 and 25 students — according to Music professor Carol Muller, who is leading the trip.
The program will bring students to the heart of South African music and culture through the city’s National Arts Festival, which displays local and national music, theater and dance performances. While in South Africa, students will blog daily and engage in discussions with their professor and peers.
According to Muller, the program will allow students to experience "a live festival in an age where everything is digital." She added that students will have the "amazing opportunity" to experience local art that "doesn’t travel outside the country."
Prior to the on-site experience, students will participate in an online music course in mid-June. The course, Muller said, will not only "give students an introduction to South African music," but also teach them about dance and theater "in the post-Apartheid context."
This is the first Penn Summer Abroad course that combines online and on-site aspects.
"The nice thing about online learning is that you can be anywhere in the world," Muller said, noting that the online aspect of the course may prove to be convenient, as the course is scheduled to begin in June when many students are off campus.
Muller, who teaches the class "World Music and Cultures" online during the summer, believes online-based classrooms offer a great incentive for students to learn.
"I feel like I know students much better" in online courses, she said, adding that "the online format requires students to be engaged much more" than traditional classroom settings. Muller attributes this to the "highly interactive" format of the LPS online courses that require students to discuss course materials and participate actively in class.
According to Penn Summer Abroad Director Wanda Kraybill, the program is similar to Penn-in-Cannes because it offers a one-credit course "that has academic work built around participation at a festival." However, its online and on-site integration offers a "unique" approach to previous summer abroad programs.
Apart from students majoring in related fields — such as African studies, Africana studies and music — Muller hopes the program will appeal to those "interested in something completely different than they would normally do in the summer."
Muller approached LPS about the possibility of creating a South Africa-based program last year and began planning the course this semester.
A South African native, Muller said she chose to create the program because "it helps to connect my worlds." She views the program as a unique opportunity to "share another part of my world with Penn students."
The Penn-in-Grahamstown program is one of eight Penn Summer Abroad programs this year. Applications are due Mar. 1, but the priority deadline is Jan. 25.
Photo by Kim Nowacki