HIS 202/300 - Legacies of Segregation: The United States & South Africa

Legacies of Segregation—The United States & South Africa
May 25, 2019–June 11, 2019

Lincoln Memorial University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students will work in conjunction with students from the University of the Free State—a public university in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Students from both universities will learn from each other and will participate in a highly student-driven learning environment that compares the segregationist histories of United States and South Africa.

While these two regions are geographically far apart, they share many similarities in terms of how they both emerged from colonial legacies, histories of slavery and segregationist politics. Currently, both countries seem to be grappling with a rather complicated identity politics, heavily contested affairs of state and divisive social contexts against a globalizing world.

In the Institute’s experience with short exchange programs, it is the joint contact between students in a convivial setting that has proven to be the more valuable educational experience for both groups, rather than one simply viewing or learning about, the histories, cultures or educational systems of another country. In other words, this format is a co-constitutive learning experience in the form of joint dialogues and equal exchange interactive sessions.

Students will be encouraged to engage in productive/constructive analysis of what they experience in interaction. They will be guided in and self-reflexive evaluation against their own and each other’s histories/legacies while being mindful of contextual variables and similarities.   

Purpose

Group photo at historical siteWith a dramatic increase, globally, in social movements and protests, neo-nationalist politics, revisiting right-wing sentiments and assimilation efforts, and bigoted or exclusionary political tactics—especially in the face of rising migration and growing social and ethnic diversities in all societal contexts—this would seem a fitting time to investigate what higher education is doing to prepare its members for diverse societies, which are, arguably, the most important developments of modern societies.

Universities are remnants of the colonial project that exist all over the world. Colonial projects are rooted in notions of conquest and domination and against histories of industrialization but the demands of current globalizing work and living environments has gone significantly beyond those pasts. Lauding ‘own-identity’, both individual and collective, might be compromising the very real need for interconnectedness and interdependence in a globalizing world. The previously promoted educational skills of knowledge memorization and storage have been replaced by an ability to access and pilot a way through, and discern priorities or relevance in, a sea of available information, thanks to the digital revolution.

While digital technology and globalization are a fact of the modern world, human interaction on many levels remains key, even though it must adapt and respond to change if individuals are to acquire the competencies needed to participate in an increasingly fluid and diverse world environment.

  • Joint excursions and social exchange: The organizing staff will agree on an itinerary including joint visits to museums, landmarks, foundations, parks, a ranch and rural farming community, important sites, events and so on as well as some ‘down time’ between excursions with necessary debriefing and joint social time (e.g. at a lodge in northern Wisconsin).
  • Dialogue groups: Students will have time to engage on what they have experienced in terms of political and social histories, and the broader issues at stake with a specific focus on what the implications for social justice in diverse societies might be. Discussions are free and open with a view to mutual understanding and comparative critical analyses and a consideration of parallel narratives.

Campus visit: During the UWL campus visit, which will form the end of the trip, students will attend lectures and discussions. Students will stay on site and be able to walk to venues in downtown La Crosse.