South Africa class offered to students

By Becca Clemons

Students craving a taste of international culture and wanting to add two hours to their schedules have the opportunity to late register for a unique class.

“South Africa & Kentucky: Different Lands, Common Ground,” a course taught by Arts and Sciences Special Projects Manager Lauren Kientz, highlights the little-known similarities between the country and state and introduces students to cross-cultural opportunities on the UK campus. The course runs Sept. 23 to Dec. 7 and is accepting 200 students.

“There are many parallels, surprisingly, between these two places,” Kientz said. “For instance, we both have issues about public health, both have issues with race in our past and we both love sports.”

Beyond the similarities between these two places, the course’s themes are important because all students will be entering a global marketplace, Kientz said. She said whether they’re going into business or education, they’ll be meeting and engaging in business opportunities with people from all over the world, from cultures with similarities and differences to ours.

Different topics will be discussed throughout the course each week, from sports to making moral choices as a global consumer, Kientz said.

Students will watch the seven-part documentary, “Have You Heard From Johannesburg,” which focuses on the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. Each week, special speakers will visit providing insight related to the class, Kientz said. Many of these speakers were directly involved with the anti-apartheid movement.

“[The course] is open to anybody who wants to learn,” she said. “It focuses on introductory skills that everyone needs to learn.”

Students will reflect on the documentary through creative blog entries posted on the class website. Although the course is open to 200 students, much discussion will occur online in small groups, Kientz said, emphasizing the importance of peer publishing, blogs and digital media for students pursuing any major.

The class website displays a schedule that includes discussions, film screenings and a field trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati in its final week, to explore similarities and differences between race issues in South Africa and Kentucky.

Undergraduates’ eyes may also be opened to numerous “rich opportunities” on the UK campus through this course, Kientz said.

Major themes of politics, activism, race and religion will be covered, as well as business, the role of segregated education, questions about poverty, crime and discrimination, and sports, which she said are very close to both Kentucky’s  and South Africa’s identities.

“Also, we have very distinct regional identities in a large statehood,” Kientz said of both.

Students with a passion for international government and relations would be especially interested in this course, but it is an opportunity for everyone to learn about a place that’s very different but also connects to home, she said.

Registration for course is available until the first day of class Sept. 23. Students must work with their advisers to register. The course outline is available on the class web page,

The “Have You Heard From Johannesburg” viewing is also open to the public, not just those in the class, Kientz said.