Skip Navigation

Governance Challenges in Southern Africa

upper campusUniversity of Cape Town, South Africa
Maymester May 17-June 4, 2010


Southern Africa contains the continent’s richest country and a number of its poorest. The region has had a tragic history of colonial and minority rule, of civil war and strife. New challenges threaten the sub-continent's emergence from these shadows, including HIV/AIDS, environmental degradation, weak national identities, and the failure of liberation movements to deliver political and economic development. At the same time, the region is home to some of the continent's most dynamic economies and rich cultural and environmental heritage. This course will address crucial policy issues confronting Southern Africa in the contemporary world.

jamison Memorial HallOverview

The LBJ School's graduate-level Maymester course will be open to approximately 20 graduate students from the University of Texas at Austin. The course will primarily serve students in the School’s Global Policy Studies (MGPS) program but will also be open to other graduate students from around campus. The course will use facilities at the University of Cape Town (UCT) as a home base, and the LBJ faculty teaching the course will cooperate with select UCT faculty. Eugene Gholz, Associate Professor at the LBJ School and graduate advisor for the MGPS program, and Joshua Busby, Assistant Professor at the LBJ School and a research fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, will co-teach the three-week, intensive course.

The course will survey governance challenges in southern Africa, focusing on political and economic development, private security as both a challenge and a solution to crime and instability, public health (especially HIV/AIDS), and environmental protection. The southern African region encompasses most of the members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Two central African countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, are also members of SADC and will also be discussed in the class.

josh busby and rosieGoals

Traveling to South Africa will allow participating students to augment their classroom experiences through a number of field trips and service opportunities. For example, the faculty and students will participate in a service project with SHAWCO, a community service organization active in townships, which are still underdeveloped despite the end of apartheid. The class will also visit Robben Island, where the apartheid regime held political prisoners including Nelson Mandela and where former political prisoners now lead tours. In addition, the group will visit Mothers2Mothers, a major recipient of U.S. aid for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and the South African Parliament. The course will also feature guest lectures from University of Cape Town faculty and interactions with local students.

The opportunity to study important global policy subject-matter in an applied setting – seeing the challenges first-hand, meeting people from different cultures and educational backgrounds – will have a profound impact on the students, who aspire to become the next generation of American public servants. By providing an overarching view of the region’s trajectory mostly from decolonization onward, the course aims to help students understand the complex governance challenges facing the region since independence and the end of minority rule in countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe. The major social challenges confronting countries with weak states and governing capacity in southern Africa either have spillover consequences for their neighbors or are intrinsically worthy of international concern. The insights and perspective gained from the study of these regional problems will help students address broader global-governance challenges in their professional lives.

students on grassLogistics

Participants will stay at All Africa House on the campus of the University of Cape Town, where we will also hold our seminar meetings. The plan is to have about four hours of contact class time on most mornings, save for excursion days. Non-excursion weekday afternoons will be “free time,” but students will be expected to prepare for the next day's discussion by doing the assigned readings. Over time, we will post additional information on assignments and logistics for the course on this website, including tuition costs, logistics for flights, registration, requirements, funding availability, etc.

For more information about this program, please contact Professor Gholz ( or Professor Busby (

Timeline Of Activities

Download PDF document.