Course description

The 3-week Social Innovation Lab field course provides you an opportunity to explore Cape Town’s highly innovative social innovation landscape, and to address social innovation topics in partnership with local entrepreneurs and civil society leaders in Langa Township.

GEI’s Social Innovation Labs in countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam aspire to drive collective social impact in the host countries by researching, designing and implementing out-of-the-box solutions with and for local communities. Student teams first develop key skills through classroom learning, workshops, field visits and general cultural immersion. You then spend two weeks working in interdisciplinary service-learning teams to address a specific social innovation topic in partnership with local entrepreneurs and civil society leaders. These topics derive from our ongoing Social Innovation Lab and Social Enterprise Incubator projects.

  • Learn to use basic design thinking tools to solve social problems with a “designerly” mindset
  • Understand the role of social innovation in dealing with complex sustainable development issues
  • Engage with South African entrepreneurs or civil society leaders to develop social innovation solutions.
  • Work in a small multicultural team and gain invaluable intercultural competence relevant to your field of study.
  • Explore the progress and challenges towards development in South Africa.
  • Broaden your personal and professional network, and build lasting international friendships.

What’s Included?

  • Tuition
  • Arrival day airport meet and greet
  • Housing
  • Transportation for program activities
  • Meals during program activities
  • Orientation
  • Program-related activity and entrance fees
  • Full-time on-site coordination and support


What Isn’t?

Not included are the transportation to/from the destination airport (including international airfare and taxes), visas, immunizations, some of the meals, items and services of a personal nature, medical expenses not covered by the insurance provided and other discretionary expenses.


Academic credits

Academic credits are available at an additional fee from the U.S. academic school of record.

Enrollment requirements

There are no academic prerequisites. To be eligible to apply for this course, students can be enrolled in any major and minor, including, among others, business, engineering, social sciences, development studies, or any related area. Service-learning tasks will be tailored to the backgrounds and skills of the students. Enrollment is generally reserved for sophomores, juniors and seniors, or by consent of the instructor. Graduate students and professionals are welcome to apply for participation without credits.

Course requirements and student evaluation

  • Course participation and engagement (25%)
  • Weekly reflective journal or blog (10%)
  • Journalistic article (10%)
  • Group presentation (25%)
  • Essay relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (30%)



Kari Cousins, a proud Cape Townian, is the Instructor for our Social Innovation Labs in South Africa. She is passionate about creating positive social change and is an active participant in many civil society organizations in Cape Town. She has earned several master’s degrees in the humanities, law and environmental social sciences, and has worked in the corporate and non-profit spheres as well as in academia.


Frequently ranked one of the best places to visit on the planet, Cape Town is the gateway to this program. Our South African projects take place here, more specifically in the township of Langa. Students are typically hosted by fully vetted families in the township, who are part of our hospitality development project.