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  • Locations: Cape Town, South Africa; Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Area of Study: Anthropology, Biology Minimum GPA Required: 2
Language of Instruction: English Recommended Program: YES
Program Description:
South Africa: Paleoanthropology and the Legacy of Human Evolution
anth 1
Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa
6 credits in ANTH and BIOL
18 June 2018 – 15 July 2018
$2600 + airfare + applicable VCU tuition
Program Director
Dr. Amy Rector Verrelli
Registration deadline: DEADLINE EXTENDED* 9 March 2018
The Global Education Office and the School of World Studies along with the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University are pleased to offer a unique opportunity for students to engage with South African natural, evolutionary, and social history experientially. Students will gain unprecedented access and experience working to excavate an actual paleoanthropological site in the Cradle of Humankind. Students will be enrolled in a 3-credit Anthropology course that will focus on aspects of the biological, archaeological, and socio-cultural anthropology of the country. Additionally, students will enroll in either a secondary Biology or Anthropology course that will further explore the biological and cultural influences on the country. By traveling within the country while studying these topics, students will be able to experience firsthand the country and its history and will be able to truly grasp the influences that have shaped the people and cultures living there today.
Course and credit options
  • ANTH 398: Field Investigations in Anthropology, 3 credits (required)
  • ANTH 391: Paleoanthropology and the Legacy of Human Evolution, 3 credits
  • BIOL 391: Paleoanthropology and the Legacy of Human Evolution, 3 credits
  All students will take ANTH 398 and choose between ANTH 391 or BIOL 391, for a total of 6 credits.

The Education Abroad office will enroll students in the course upon receipt of the registration.
Course descriptionanth 2
This course will offer students an introduction to the uniquely rich natural and social history of South Africa. Two thirds of the course will focus on the study of the “natural history” of South Africa, which will include intensive consideration of the ecology and evolution of living things. Classroom instruction will focus on evolutionary principles with specific regard to humans, and will be complemented by visiting World Heritage Sites, like the Cradle of Humankind, that are famous for the discovery of our fossil ancestors. In the study of South African natural history, several days will also be devoted to the ecology of the animals living in the country today, and will include a visit to a world famous wildlife park for a true African safari. The remaining time in the course will focus on the beautiful South African context of these World Heritage Sites, and will include a brief introduction to the history of South Africa and the legacy that this history has left for South Africans today. Classroom instruction will include lectures on history and culture, and will be complemented by visits to the Apartheid Museum and Soweto.

In both Johannesburg and Cape Town, students must be able to walk for lengths of time across uneven pavement/sidewalks/unpaved ground surfaces. During the program there will be some mild to moderate hiking over uneven terrain. There may be extended periods of time in vehicles driving on even/uneven roads, outside in very warm to very cold weather. There may be light to moderate physical activity associated with field work, such as, standing for long periods/moving rocks/some digging (much of this is optional/scaled to individual ability). 

Students must have a 2.0 GPA in order to participate in this program. All majors are welcome. Applicants will need to schedule an interview with the program director in order to be considered for this program. ANTH 103 is a preferred pre-requisite for all majors, but it is flexible. BIOL 151, 152 and BIOZ 151, 152, with minimum grades of C, is a preferred pre-requisite for BIOL 391, but it is flexible.

Note: Students wishing to enroll in BIOL 391: Paleoanthropology and the Legacy of Human Evolution must have fulfilled all prerequisite Biology coursework prior to the program’s start date.

An academic letter of reference is required. Please submit this with your application materials. This program is open to non-VCU students. Students must be able to walk for lengths of time across uneven, sidewalks, cobblestone and other ground surfaces of Capetown and Johannesburg .

Accommodations and Mealscape town
Though many of the sites that will be visited on this program are often frequented by tourists, students will be exposed to local cultures and peoples each day. Bed & breakfasts are the most common accommodations in South Africa, each of which is owned and visited by local South Africans who are often very involved with shaping the experiences of lodgers. While in-country, students will stay in bed & breakfasts in a suburb of Johannesburg and in Cape Town.  While rooms may be shared, each is equipped with bathroom facilities and will provide breakfast and snacks to lodgers. In both cities, rooms will be within walking distance of grocery stores and local sites of interest and students will have some free time to explore on their own. At the Kruger National Park, students will stay in luxury tents or rondevals/cabins and will be on safari from dawn until dusk each day, experiencing up-close encounters with animals such as elephants, lions, and antelopes.
Tours at fossil sites and museums are given by local guides and guest lectures from several South African scientists will be integrated into the program. In each place visited, dinners have been organized that will allow students to sample local cuisine. Students are encouraged to visit local markets and shops where they can interact with South Africans in everyday situations. Students will be fully integrated in the scientific process while in South Africa and will share work and meals with local research teams. Students will also visit and volunteer at non-profit organizations designed to help at-risk youth in the South African townships.
Program director
The program will be led by Dr. Amy Rector Verrelli, an assistant professor of anthropology who has had extensive experience with American undergraduate students in South Africa through this and other field schools run in the Limpopo Province. Dr. Rector Verrelli lived in Cape Town for several years collecting data for her dissertation and continues archaeological fieldwork in the country each year. She is thrilled to offer this exciting opportunity through VCU!

A valid passport is required to leave the US. If a student does not already have a passport, they are advised to begin the application process as soon as they are accepted into the program. The processing time for new passport applicants can be as long as 8 weeks. For students who already have passports, they will need to verify that the passport’s validity dates extend 6 months past their return date. For more information about passports and the application/renewal process, please consult the State Department's website.
Payment of fees
In order to complete the application, students are required to submit a $250 registration fee and deposit. This $250 registration fee and deposit is refundable in two cases: if the program is cancelled, or if a student is rejected by the faculty member based on their qualifications to participate in the program. Reasons for rejection could include, but are not limited to, GPA, lack of a pre-requisite, unacceptable or inappropriate statement of interest, etc. and are at the discretion of the faculty program director. However, if a student pays the fee and is not given final acceptance to the program based on failing to complete application requirements, as determined by the Education Abroad office or faculty director, the $250 is non-refundable.
Students will receive two separate charges to their student accounts for this program: one charge will reflect the balance of the program fee (minus the $250 deposit and application fee) and the other charge is for VCU tuition costs (based on the number and type of credits being taken by the student). These bills will be charged through VCU Student Accounting and should appear by May 2018.
Please note: While these charges may post to the student’s account simultaneously or separately, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure the account balance is paid before the billing due date.
Withdrawal procedures and financial commitment policy
All withdrawals must be made formally in writing and submitted to the Director of Education Abroad. Otherwise, the program fee will not be refunded. After committing to the program, students deciding to withdraw will be held accountable for a portion of or the entire program fee based on the following schedule:
  • Formal withdrawal submitted later than 30 days before the first day of the program abroad: 100% of the program fee will be charged
  • Formal withdrawal submitted within 30-60 days before the first day of the program abroad: 75% of the program fee will be charged
  • Formal withdrawal submitted within 60-90 days before the first day of the program abroad: 50% of the program fee will be charged
In the event an unexpected emergency occurs within 30 days before the first day of the program abroad, students must provide a physician’s certification that his/her condition prohibits participation. In this case, refunds will be limited to only those funds VCU is able to recover or that have not already been spent on behalf of the student.
See above for refund policy on $250 registration fee and deposit.
Travel health
Students should schedule an appointment with their physician or at a travel clinic (such as VCU Student Health) at least 4 to 8 weeks before the program to inquire about recommended and/or required vaccines/immunizations. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all routine and travel immunizations are up-to-date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on recommended and required immunizations for travelers. To view the health risks and requirements for the country to which you will be traveling, please visit the CDC's website.
Health Alert:  Zika Virus
The CDC has issued a travel alert for countries where the Zika virus is prevalent.  Check the CDC’s travel notices regularly as new countries are being added to this list.  Check VCU Student Health to stay updated as well.

VCU Student Health offers in-depth pre-travel consultation with a health care provider as well as most of the vaccines recommended for safe travel. Prescriptions for recommended medicines are also available. Please visit their website for full details.


Every effort is made to provide updated and accurate information at the time of publication. The sponsors reserve the right to make necessary changes to the programs and costs. The university reserves the right to revise or alter all fees, regulations pertaining to student fees, and fee collection procedures at any time.

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.

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