Week 7 LAB Projects 2017

Apartheid in South Africa

Participating Faculty: Paul A O’Keefe and Chin-Hao Huang

Project Duration: Wednesday, 27 September to Saturday, 7 October


  • This Week 7 departs on Tuesday, September 26. Students will need to return early from vacation and should plan on having preparatory work done before the trip.
  • This Week 7 will require a student co-pay of S$1,600. (Financial aid and merit grants are available. Please do not let finances deter you from participating).

Course Summary:

The purpose of this LAB is to teach students about the psychological underpinnings of prejudice and discrimination, and the political institutions that legitimise and preserve it. As a lens through which to examine these issues, we will study apartheid in South Africa. There, we will travel to historic sites, townships, and museums in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Our LAB will begin in Cape Town, where we will visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned from 1962-1984. We will also visit the township of Khayelitsha and the District Six Museum among other historical points of interest, such as the Houses of Parliament, that played keys roles during apartheid. Furthermore, we will arrange a visit to the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, successor to South Africa Government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for a discussion with scholars and experts to learn about the Institute’s role in challenging prejudice and discrimination in society as well as South Africa’s approaches to restorative justice and reconciliation.

We will then head to Johannesburg, where we will visit Soweto, which includes the Mandela Museum, the homes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and the Hector Pieterson Museum, the site of the racial uprising in 1976 that exposed the international community to the brutality of South Africa’s apartheid government. Additionally, we will visit the Apartheid Museum, one of the most powerful exhibitions of the psychological toll apartheid had on those who were oppressed and the political structures that justified it.

By exploring the history of apartheid through South Africa’s sites and museums, students will engage in intellectual discourse about the psychological processes that contribute to prejudice and discrimination (e.g., stereotyping, the illusory correlation, the roles of automatic and controlled processing). And by exploring the impoverished townships (Khayelitsha and Soweto) that exemplify South Africa’s inequality—and continue to exemplify the extant inequality in the post-apartheid era—students will come to understand the role of political institutions that attempt, and sometimes fail, to promote change.

Partner Organisations:

We intend to partner with organisations like the Robben Island Museum, District Six Museum, and Apartheid Museum. We will also contact the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town to learn more about South Africa’s approaches to national reconciliation.

Other Week 7 LABs