The southern tip of Africa is a land of breathtaking contrast: staggering wealth and heartbreaking poverty, natural beauty and crowded shacks, social cooperation and engrained violence.
The 18 students who spent three weeks in Cape Town experienced this complicated culture during the second annual Bucknell in South Africa trip, themed "Coping with the Legacy of Apartheid: Community Development and Social Entrepreneurship." The class counted as credit in either economics or management.
"They learn how to address lingering effects of apartheid through social business and entrepreneurship," says Professor Tammy Hiller, management. "They took classes in the morning at the University of Cape Town, and then interned in the afternoons – not just doing volunteer work, but actually pushing organizations' objectives forward."
The opportunity to do meaningful work in Africa attracted Spencer Ivey '15, who majors in markets, innovation and design. He used his skills as part of a group of students who helped a local school develop an integrated marketing plan and strategy to help attract corporate funding. Other students created an environmental curriculum for youngsters in an after-school program.
"The students must think reactively and use available resources," says Professor Geoff Schneider, economics. "We hope to instill in them the skill to identify what needs fixing and then go do it. The clients were so appreciative of not only how good the students' work was, but also how much they'd accomplished in just three weeks."
The itinerary included tours of local townships and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years as a political prisoner during the apartheid era. Some students used free days to go on safari or try shark-cage diving.
"Being immersed in a different culture is unparalleled," says Ivey. "You can be an armchair anthropologist, but you don't really understand it fully until you get there and realize how diverse the world is."