Texas Tech University

Geosciences and Social Media Communication in South Africa

Study Abroad at University of Pretoria, South Africa

The program will lead students on a 4-week Study Abroad program to South Africa, based around the campus of the University of Pretoria. The program will provide students an integrated experience blending field, classroom and laboratory learning on the occurrence of strategic minerals that underlie the modern, high-technology world economy. Simultaneously, students will study and develop social-media communication strategies that will be used to show-case the research and significance of the geoscience project, and to develop materials for use in marketing campaigns and short-documentary items that raise awareness of the global inter-connected science and economics of mineral resources, and, advocate for the positive outcomes and societal benefits of international engagement.

Program Dates: June 1 -June 29, 2023 (Summer I)


 Application Information 


Important Dates and Deadlines 

Learning Outcomes for the Study Abroad Program

  • Devise communication strategies to disseminate scientific knowledge
  • Apply remote sensing and geophysical techniques to the exploration and identification of mineral deposits.
  • Utilize social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, to enhance scientific knowledge amongst under-represented populations.
  • Conduct field work in South Africa identifying and mapping mineral deposits.
  • Understand audience diversity so as to develop messages for particular audiences, and how to engage in a meaningful dialogue via social media tools of human communication. 
  • Apply laboratory analysis techniques to characterize properties of the mineral deposits.
  • Learn the art of video editing for social media and traditional media platforms
  • Learn about the geologic processes for their formation.
  • Make short documentaries to tell their stories on visual media platforms.

What is an IRES?

This Study Abroad program is part of a NSF-sponsored International Research Experience for Students (IRES). IRES programs promote the development of a diverse globally-engaged workforce with world class skills. IRES focusses on active research participation by undergraduate and graduate students in NSF-funded research areas. This NSF-IRES award provides funding to support some of the participant program fees, travel costs, and may provide stipends to those who are engaged directly with meeting the basic-science research questions that underlie the project.


Besides the educational goals of the two courses, the Study Abroad program will also promote:

  1. Student training in the application of common research methods and techniques.
  2. Build student cohorts with diverse academic and social backgrounds to promote cross-disciplinary engagement
  3. Develop technical, team-building, communication and leadership skills in TTU students.
  4. Foster cross-cultural engagement between students from the U.S. and South Africa to promote awareness of the global strategic-metal and mineral industry.
  5. Develop media products to build awareness of basic science, its relevance to global society, and study how media products change perceptions about science.
  6. Build a platform for continued collaboration and educational exchange between Texas Tech University and the University of Pretoria.
  7. Address fundamental questions on the origins and evolution of magnetite ore-bodies and their potential contribution to sustainable development of strategic mineral and element resources.


 Mandatory Group Advising

Late in the Spring semester of 2020 attendance of three 3-hour afternoon seminars will be required to prepare students for the research experience. The sessions will include workshops and presentations on personal safety in South Africa, geopolitical history of South Africa, introduction to the geoscience research goals, introduction to the communication-study research goals, tele-conference with South African collaborators

Course Offered

  • GEOL-4300 – Exploration and sustainable development of strategic mineral resources
  • JCMI-4301 – Science communication in a global context

Program Fee Includes

  • Lodging
  • Local transportation in South Africa for course-related activities
  • Field Excursions including accommodation and transport
  • Cultural excursions including safari, museum, markets.
  • Braai
  • Meals during fieldwork

Program Fee Does Not Include

  • TTU Tuition of fees
  • Airfare to/from South Africa
  • Insurance
  • Education Abroad fee
  • Meals (supermarket shopping) in Pretoria
  • Personal spending money
  • Passport and visa costs

Program open to

  • All TTU students who have completed their General Science with a lab core curriculum requirement.

Additional Funding

This Study Abroad program is part of a NSF sponsored IRES project and has duel education and research goals. The NSF award will provide reimbursement of some (and in some cases all) program and travel costs. In return for contributing to the research activities, stipends to off-set tuition/personal expenses during the Study Abroad program may also be offered.