Learning Abroad

Study and work with youth around the world and stay on track to graduate. The Learning Abroad Centeroffers programs around the world to enhance your undergraduate experience.

Course descriptions

SW 3601: Solidarity & Community-led Transformation in South Africa

Though the magnificence of South Africa’s people and landscapes is vast, it is often said that visitors “ignore the view” by overlooking the juxtaposition between acute poverty in the townships and immensely affluent neighborhoods (built for-and-by the white minority during Apartheid). Mindful visitors often put into question the “free market” and recognize that Apartheid’s history of racism and classism still exists in all fabrics of life; and, many “westerners” try to assist through service or volunteerism without fostering real change. In Africa, “service” is a billion-dollar industry. Abuse by western volunteer organizations and other programs has included half-finished work, time and resources drained from communities, and unchanged “volunteers.” But, do we do nothing?

In this course, we will explore the dynamics of power, privilege, and repression through social justice advocacy and scholarly analysis of the “oppressive savior complex.” We will ask:

  • What sort of training, discussion, or curriculum could mitigate the problems of “volunteer work” or “service learning” as a “vacation” that does not work to transform communities?
  • When working with previously colonized nations or historically oppressed populations (“vulnerable communities”), how do we work towards justice-orientated structural change?
  • How do we take responsibility for global poverty and commit to abolishing the structures and paradigms that oppress others?
  • What are the rules of engagement to avoid the “oppressive savior complex,” “white savior industrial complex,” or the reproduction of oppressive discourses?
  • Using South African paradigms, how do we begin to transform our understanding of “community,” and the essence of what it means to be human, and attempt to heal ourselves from past-wrongs in our own lives in order to become stronger agents of change moving forward?

Course partners

YOST 3030: Youth Voices: The Fight for Social Change in Croatia

Youth involvement in civic and political activities is both celebrated and feared. In this course we will explore the different efforts and effects of youth involvement in civic and political activities throughout Croatia's history and how young people have both supported fascist regimes and peace and justice movements. Through exploring the Croatian history of youth involvement in civic and political activity, we also introduce civic youth work as a form of community-based youth work, to locate it in two frames –community-building for healthy youth development and youth civic engagement (citizenship), and show the relations among the two. We will visit both historical sites and meet with current youth workers and youth programs to learn more about the challenges and controversies of youth involvement in social change in Croatia.

This course will explore the following questions:

  • What opportunities have been created for youth civic and political involvement, and by whom and to what end?
  • How has their participation been supported or obstructed?
  • What major issues mobilized young people in the past and how have these changed over time?
  • How did the rapid social change in Croatian society impact and influence the formation and sustentation of youth social movements in Croatia?
  • What impact have various youth movements had on Croatian civic society and civic and political practices and culture?

In this course, we will visit three communities in Croatia: Osijek, Zagreb, and Rijeka (along with a two-day visit to the island of Krk).

Course partners

The course is co-taught with colleagues in Croatia whose work is based in each of these communities. In addition to daily visits to youth organizations, we will also visit cultural and environmental sites to better understand the history and culture of Croatia, including Plitvice National Park, the Museum of Slavonia, the Jesanovac memorial, and the Museum of Broken Relationships. Students will have time to also explore these regions on their own.