• Picture of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, next to the text "Virtual Program"

    Virtual Capstone in South Africa


Situated at the southern tip of the African continent, South Africa is bordered by the Indian and Atlantic Oceans; each with its own unique characteristics and bounty of marine life. The convergence of these two oceans offers a unique ecological context with a diversity like no other destination on earth. 

This program introduces students to marine conservation work, challenges presented by ocean waste, and The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Along the way, students will interact with local students in South Africa, learn about South Africa’s great white shark populations, and gain a better understanding of how South Africa’s rich and complex history has shaped its society. Students will gain an appreciation for how various cultural beliefs, mind sets, and social challenges affect responses to conservation. 

Taught fully online, this program enables students to have an enhanced learning experience through virtual visits and conversations with locals in South Africa. This unique platform brings the world to UNI students in an affordable and sustainable way.


Course Leaders

Peter Berendzen, Professor

Department: Biology
Phone: 319-273-7026
E-mail: peter.berendzen@uni.edu
Campus Address: MSH 93

Peter has led study abroad programs to Taiwan, New Zealand, and the Galapagos and has traveled extensively throughout the world for both education and pleasure. His academic expertise is in biodiversity and conservation, which will be the focus of the Virtual Capstone in South Africa program. Peter loves to go "off the beaten path" in his travel explorations and is excited to bring the world to UNI students through this program. 


CAP 3140: Environment, Technology, and Society Capstone (2 credit hours) +  BIOL 3174: Field Biology: South Africa (1 credit hour) 

Taught fully online, this June session program enables students to have an enhanced learning experience through virtual visits and conversations with locals in South Africa.

The Study Abroad Center will directly enroll participants in the courses during the spring semester. Students will be enrolled in both courses listed above for a total of 3 credit hours. Please contact the program's course leader for more information on academic requirements.  


  • In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program s course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study.
  • Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
  • Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
  • Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken this capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.


Virtual class meetings Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 pm, throughout the duration of the course.  Taught over the June 2021 session, this program offers an enhanced learning experience through virtual visits and conversations with locals in South Africa. A detailed schedule will soon be available. 

Virtual visits/meetings include: 

  • The Marine Dynamics Academy, based in Gansbaai, known as South Africa’s “Shark Capital” for the incredible number of Great White Sharks that are found in the area. Introduction to Marine Dynamics & their conservation work. 
  • Panel discussion with stakeholders who are invested in responsible plastic production, environmental education, recycling and creative reuse of plastic products, and ocean conservation
  • Virtual viewing of the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary 

Program Costs

Dates & Deadlines


App Deadline: 
Monday, March 1, 2021

The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:

  • Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
    • If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
    • Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
  • Must be over the age of 18 years old
  • Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
  • Must be in good standing with the University
  • UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
  • Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
  • All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
  • Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.