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Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa

Ethics in a Global Perspective

Travel to the southernmost tip of Africa to explore our global commonalities!

Although known to many for its colonial history and brutal apartheid past, South Africa is also a land of immense natural beauty, rich cultural and ethnic diversity, and profound ongoing social and political struggle. This Ethics course gives undergraduate students the rare opportunity to explore the implications of various ethical frameworks, and their role in advancing social justice, in the distinctive context of post-apartheid South Africa.

South Africa is an ideal field site for students looking to gain a global perspective on core ethical issues and their extension beyond the interpersonal to the social level – questions of justice, duty, benevolence, and solidarity, among others. Traveling to the cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Soweto, students will gain firsthand appreciation of the deep moral difficulties still facing South Africa as it grapples with its unique social, political, and economic challenges nearly twenty-five years after the official end of apartheid.

As part of the program, students will have the opportunity to incorporate Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) with a visit to the Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY) Foundation in Soweto for a service project. Other planned excursions include a visit to Robben Island and a tour of Nelson Mandela’s former cell; visits to the Apartheid, District Six, and Hector Peterson Museums; a walking tour of the beautiful and predominantly Muslim Bo Kaap neighborhood; a trip to the top of Table Mountain; and a visit to breathtaking Cape Point, the southwestern-most point on the African continent, and the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

Along the way, students will have ample opportunity to deepen their understanding and appreciation of South African culture by experiencing the country’s warm hospitality, incredible cuisine, and rare natural beauty. Through all of these experiences, students will have the opportunity to interact directly with the people of South Africa.

This program is limited to 16 students.

Program dates: May 15 – 26, 2017, following a semester-long course.

Program Itinerary


  • Undergraduate Course: PHI 2200C: Ethics.  This course takes place on the Queens campus during the Spring 2017 semester, TF 10:40am - 12:05pm

Faculty Director:
S. Joshua Thomas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Professor Thomas works within the American pragmatist tradition with research focused in two primary areas. First, he has been investigating a cluster of issues at the intersection of bioethics and philosophy of medicine, particularly, the ethical implications of basic frameworks of health and medical evidence. His second area of focus is concerned with the ethical dimensions of hope, including questions of moral obligation and selfhood arising in that context. He has presented research at numerous national and international conferences, and his academic awards and honors include a Career Enhancement Scholarship from the Oxford University Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, an International Faculty Development Seminar Fellowship to South Africa from the Council on International Educational Exchange, and the Faculty Recognition Award from St. John’s University.  Professor Thomas has traveled to South Africa repeatedly, and is proud to have developed a successful Academic Service-Learning partnership with the Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY) program, which has been running each semester since Fall 2015. 

Program Fee: $6550, including round-trip group airfare from New York to South Africa.  

Application Deadline: Friday, October 14

Confirmation Deadline: Friday, October 21
- For instructions on how to confirm, please visit our Accepted Students page

Status: The Spring 2017 South Africa program is now complete.  The program will return in Spring 2019.