Skip to main content

PO explores ‘Identity in Context’ study abroad course and trek to South Africa

March 30, 2018

Categories: Blog

Published: March 30, 2018

TCS International (TCS) brings together five universities—The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law, Pacific Oaks College, Dallas Nursing Institute, and Saybrook University—for a cross-disciplinary, three-month course and 10-day, study abroad experience in Cape Town and Johannesburg. PO faculty Dr. Marcia Bankirer discusses ways to enrich this experience.


Pacific Oaks College is offering the opportunity for faculty and students to travel to Cape Town and Johannesburg for 10 days as part of a three-month online course called “Identity in Context: Examination of South Africa.” The Fall 2018 interdisciplinary course will offer participants the opportunity to learn more about psychological, social, educational, legal, and healthcare perspectives from other working professionals and students with the help of TCS Education.

Dr. Marcia Bankirer, the dean of PO’s San Jose, California campus

Dr. Marcia Bankirer, the dean of PO’s San Jose, California campus

“I’d heard great things about the Berlin trip that all of the schools took with TCS Education, and I was told that it was a great interdisciplinary opportunity to work with our systems, schools, and focus on very timely topics,” says Dr. Marcia Bankirer, the dean of PO’s San Jose, California campus. “I also have a great desire to go to South Africa. My husband has family that went there after World War II once they got out of concentration camps. I’ve been looking at some of those parallel experiences: how Poland acted after the war, how they didn’t want their citizens back, and how those people felt about their own identity—were they now Polish or German? I want to be able to research the parallels between pre- and post-apartheid South Africa in a similar manner.”

For Dr. Bankirer, being immersed in different cultures has been the norm since she was 3 years old. She attended a French nursery school and declared that learning a different language and being around different cultures “is where learning happens. It opens you up to different possibilities and viewpoints in ways that cannot be done otherwise.”

“When people are out of their comfort zone and have to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes, they see and experience it in a new way,” Dr. Bankirer continues.

Dr. Bankirer has also taken those “walks” in Singapore and South America to complete presentations on distance learning.

“And now I’m looking forward to adding South Africa to my learning excursions,” Dr. Bankirer says. “I think all of the faculty members put together a syllabus that really will challenge each other, the students, and the staff. Everywhere we go, we will have the opportunity for that self-reflection.”

The online course, which is scheduled to run from October 5, 2018 to December 16, 2018, has a sign-up deadline of August 1, 2018. Topics in the course will include acculturation and impact on families; cultural competency; advocacy; legal aspects; and mental health.

Faculty leads representing each school include Dr. Theopia Jackson, Saybrook University’s department chair for the Clinical Psychology program; Dr. Iris Hobson, an ADN instructor for Dallas Nursing Institute; Jason Dominguez, J.D., an adjunct faculty member for The Colleges of Law’s Master of Legal Studies program; Dr. Cynthia Langtiw, an associate professor in The Chicago School’s Clinical Psychology department; and Dr. Bankirer.

Last year, PO faculty also took another trip to South Africa for a weeklong training on intergenerational trauma at Ekupholeni Mental Health and Trauma Centre, near Johannesburg.

This will be the second cross-study course for TCS Education System colleges. The first trip that all five universities participated in was a trip to Berlin, Germany for the “Immigration in Context: Examination of Germany” course in 2016.

For more information on the “Identity in Context: Examination of South Africa” course and/or to sign up, click here.

Categories: Blog

For questions or comments on our news stories or releases, or if you are a reporter who would like to speak with an expert in education, human development, or marriage and family therapy, please contact Johanna Atienza at [email protected] or 626.529.8092.