Rutgers’ involvement in South Africa dates back to the 1970s, when Rutgers faculty professor Walton Johnson raised awareness about Apartheid struggle. Even during the post-Apartheid times, Rutgers faculty kept their focus on the country.
The Graduate School of Education (GSE) launched the South Africa Initiative (SAI) in the fall of 2001, in which participants engage in an interdisciplinary program that includes service learning activities, conducted both locally in New Jersey and in South Africa, and research-based projects that focus on important issues in education. SAI is run through GSE’s Office of Continuing Education and Global Programs. Since the program’s inception, more than one-hundred forty educators have had the opportunity to interact with and learn from teachers and students in South African schools through service learning, training, and distance technology. Such a continuous dialogue has enhanced the education of students and educators in both countries. The program is committed to educating teachers and students for responsible global citizenship in ways that deepen their learning and improve international understanding. The SAI Distinguished Lecture Series, a component of SAI, brings scholars and educators from around the world to Rutgers to present a series of lectures to students, staff, and faculty. The SAI program is complemented by Rutgers’ Study Abroad Program at the University of KwaZulu Natal and the annual study tour organized by the School of Business-Camden (SBC) for students to earn credit and provide service to businesses, government, and community/non-profit organizations.
Rutgers is a partner in the Southern African Large Telescope Consortium (SALT). SALT is a consortium of six countries on four continents, and universities that have jointly constructed a ten-meter optical telescope optimized for spectroscopic work that closely resembles the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald Observatory in West Texas. Rutgers astronomers have a 10% share of the telescope and the telescope time. Other SALT Partners include Poland, Germany, USA, New Zealand, and India.
Along with institutional collaborations, Rutgers faculty have numerous ongoing research projects in the country of South Africa and the broader region of southern Africa. Fields of study include: the interplay between religion and social change; the political economy of transition and race relations; the human dimensions of environmental problems and questions relating to disability, chronic illness, aging, suicide, personal debt, care-giving, disgust, and citizenship; and research on culture, political economy, and ecological landscapes.
In addition to faculty research, graduate students in anthropology are actively engaged in research in South Africa. Topics include: the role of embodied performance in community mobilizations for social change; and the question of how economic inequalities and structural barriers impact responses to antiretroviral treatment (ART) among people living with HIV/AIDS in Grahamstown, South Africa, and among Zimbabwean plantation workers in northern South Africa.
The Rutgers Institute for Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowships Program of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy runs a yearlong “Secure the Future/Virology Policy and Advocacy” residency program in South Africa and Lesotho. PharmD Fellows spend one year in South Africa and travel to Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, and Namibia. Their activities in South Africa include development of curriculum and training of rural “pharmacy technicians” working in Bristol-Myers Squibb sponsored communities of high HIV prevalence. They train and help establish reporting systems for district pharmacies and primary health dispensers; assist Lesotho National Health Training College in maintenance and evaluation of a Drug Information Center; assist Lesotho Ministry of Health in development of a model pharmacy; work with Traditional Healers on a cooperative understanding of cultures and medicine; conduct HIV support-group education in cooperation with community coordinators at Ladysmith and Lesotho; and mentor local pharmacist staff (e.g., Learning Center Program) to support sustainable impact. The program is run jointly with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, which with Bristol Myers Squibb, has committed $150 million to the program to fight HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa since 1999.