Examine ecology and natural resource management in the coral reefs and coastal forests of Zanzibar, Mafia, and Pemba islands in the western Indian Ocean, and on coastal mainland Tanzania.
Discover the biodiversity and ecosystems of Zanzibar, Mafia, and Pemba islands, and coastal mainland Tanzania.
Zanzibar’s unique ecological context is ideal for exploring specific environmental topics, including coral reef conservation, tropical forest management, and resource management. From the program’s base in Stone Town, you’ll examine issues in marine and coastal environments through lectures and short excursions. You’ll explore , Misali Island Conservation Area, and Chumbe Island Coral Park Ecotourism Project and Reserve; see marine biodiversity while snorkeling off Bawe, Changuu, and Misali and in the Mbudya and Sinda Islands reserves; and examine the unprotected Pange Reef.
Learn and practice marine and terrestrial field methodologies
Learn the techniques, methods, and ethics necessary for successful field research. Throughout this section of the program, you will establish ideas for your Independent Study Project (ISP) and learn to properly develop your research topics. Zanzibar's geographic and ecological assets, including its extensive coastline, flora, fauna, and tropical climate, create an optimal environment to examine coastal ecology and natural resource management. The area also provides you with an exceptional opportunity to conduct research on rare endemic species such as the Pemba flying fox, the largest fruit bat in the world, and the coconut crab, the world’s largest land crab. Through thematic seminars and hands-on learning with academic and professional experts, you will explore the diversity and natural resources of Zanzibar (known locally as Unguja), and coastal Tanzania, challenging yourself to understand the larger questions of conservation practice in the region.
Study natural resource challenges and sustainable management of the region’s coral reefs, intertidal zones, coastal forests, and vulnerable fauna.
Through thematic coursework and direct field experience, you will examine issues arising from the tensions between rapid population growth, economic development, and environmental conservation. You’ll learn about the challenges to the region’s fragile ecosystems posed by tourism and other industries. You’ll hear different perspectives on natural resource management and development through interactions with a variety of stakeholders, and you’ll learn to reframe notions of ecological sustainability in relation to local population needs, perspectives, and values.
Partner with academic, professional, and community experts.
SIT’s partners include the Zanzibar government, specifically the Department of Forestry, the Department of Environment, and the Department of Fisheries; the Institute of Marine Sciences in Zanzibar; and The University of Dar es Salaam on mainland Tanzania). Through SIT’s extensive regional networks, you will have the opportunity to access experts in government and nongovernmental agencies.
Experience forests and wildlife such as the red colobus monkeys and Hawksbill sea turtles.
Get a glimpse of the diversity of Tanzania’s wildlife during visits to the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre; the Kidike Flying Fox Ecotourism Project; Jozani Forest, where you’ll look for rare birds and endemic red colobus monkeys; and Mikumi National Park on the Tanzanian mainland.
Speak Kiswahili during homestays in Stone Town, Zanzibar, and on Pemba Island.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Climate | Environment
Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields, as assessed by SIT. Swimming and snorkeling proficiency is strongly recommended.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- The challenges to the region’s fragile ecosystems posed by tourism and other industries
- Sustainable management of the region's coastal forests, coral reefs, and vulnerable fauna
- The complex dynamics of local ecosystems in relation to resident communities
- Terrestrial, intertidal, and marine ecosystems
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management Seminar – syllabus
- (ENVI3000 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- An interdisciplinary course conducted in English, with required readings, examining coastal ecology and natural resource management in Zanzibar, Pemba, and coastal Tanzania. Lecturers are drawn from institutions such as the University of Dar es Salaam and its affiliate, the Institute of Marine Sciences in Zanzibar.
- Beginning Kiswahili – syllabus
- (SWAH1004-1504 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- Intermediate Kiswahili – syllabus
- (SWAH2004-2504 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- Emphasis is on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in intensive beginning or intermediate classes, with further language practice during homestays, lectures, and excursions.
- Environmental Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
- (ENVI3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- A course in environmental research methods and ethics concerning both the social and natural sciences. The main focus is on learning how to collect, analyze, integrate, and report social and ecological data in order to critically understand and evaluate program-related environmental issues. Topics include an introduction to the Independent Study Project; environmental field study ethics; and the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. Environmental research topics include designing a portfolio research project, interviewing, conducting surveys, and maintaining a field journal. Specific ecological research methods may include micro- and macrohabitat analysis, fauna and flora identification, biodiversity monitoring, population analysis, and animal behavior.
- Independent Study Project – syllabus
- (ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- Conducted on the Zanzibar Archipelago or in another approved Tanzanian coastal location. Sample topic areas: turtle conservation on Misali Island; oral histories of a Zanzibari fishing village; a survey of invasive species in Jozani Forest; environmental impact of hotels in Unguja; a survey of coral genera on Chumbe Island; a survey of red colobus monkey migration corridors; ecological impacts of salt farming; environmental education in local schools; urban water use in Pemba; feasibility and impacts of seasonal closure of an octopus fishery; an assessment of community-based ecological monitoring.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Many of the excursions on the program will take you directly into the water to explore marine habitats and coastal ecology. You will gain a far better appreciation of what is occurring in the Indian Ocean by examining it firsthand while snorkeling under the guidance of local experts. You will begin to recognize what healthy coral looks like in comparison to unhealthy coral and what types of marine life live in sea grass and the intertidal zone. Biodiversity surveys using transects and quadrats allow for practice with methodology, which you may use for your Independent Study Project. These hands-on learning experiences help you appreciate the interconnectedness of coastal ecology and a healthy biotic system.
You will spend ten days on Unguja’s sister island Pemba. Pemba, a more rural community, is the base for addressing issues affecting villagers and local fishermen. Here, you will visit the Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary, a fruit-bat roosting site that a local community on Pemba Island has turned into an ecotourism destination featuring guided tours, a lookout tower, and the ruins of a fourteenth-century Arab-Swahili town. You may have the opportunity to assist the village committee in developing and promoting ecotourism and conservation of this endangered species and to study the biology and behavior of the bats to provide baseline data for the management of increasing numbers of visitors to the colony.
You will also visit the Pemba Essential Oils Distillery, where local farmers and schools are involved in the production of clove oil as a cottage industry, using the leaves rather than the more expensive buds of the clove tree. Until recently, the leaves were considered waste, but now are being distilled for their oil content and then recycled into the furnaces for the distillation process. Opportunities for projects here include chemical assay and analysis of oils produced in the distillery itself compared to the field stills (clove oil and lemon grass oil), assessment of management and efficiency of the field stills, and current socioeconomic status as compared to a study done in 2007 to see where improvements need to be made.
Other field trip locations typically include salt farms, an essential oils distillery, a rubber plantation, a forest reserve, the Misali Island Marine Reserve, and a farmer’s field school that teaches local farmers about improved agricultural techniques.
Dar es Salaam
On a one week excursion to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, you’ll live in a guest house near the University of Dar es Salaam, where you’ll hear lectures from the university’s professors. You will also go on a brief safari at Mikumi National Park, where you can see some of Tanzania’s famous wildlife in their natural environment and learn more about mammals, birds, and reptiles and their habitats.
In Zanzibar, you’ll visit Chumbe Island Coral Park, a privately owned marine sanctuary on an island off Zanzibar’s southeast coast. The park is home to the rare coconut crab and a stunning coral reef. During this one-day excursion, you will be introduced to low-impact tourism and environmental education.
You’ll also visit the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, established to provide extra income earning opportunities for the local community while promoting conservation and sustainable use of resources. Zanzibaris farm butterflies at the center for both the onsite enclosure and international export. Opportunities for study projects here include how women farmers integrate their business and family life, how Zanzibari farmers manage time constraints with butterfly production, biodiversity of butterflies in the area, management and marketing plans, and environmental education for local children.
During this three-day excursion, we will visit Mafia Island Marine Park to study its recent history of development, learn about sea turtle or whale shark tracking and conservation, and to see some of the island's remarkable bird life.
The SIT staff worked tirelessly to help me have a great semester.
The SIT staff worked tirelessly to help me have a great semester. They were ready to assist me with any issue or answer any question I had but also didn’t hold my hand or stop me from trying new things. They didn’t shelter me from the difficult realities of developing nations. I felt that the SIT staff beautifully balanced supporting us with challenging us, and I hope that they understand how large an impact they have on the lucky students who arrive on the program each semester.
Program in a minute-ish
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.
Jonathan Richard Walz, PhD, Academic Director
Jonathan completed his PhD at the University of Florida as a foreign language and area studies fellow at the Center for African Studies. Funded by Fulbright-Hays, his doctoral research produced a history of human settlement and environment for the region between the Swahili Coast and the Eastern Arc Mountains of northeastern Tanzania. As a short-term graduate student at the University of Dar es Salaam, Jonathan studied Swahili language and East African history and ecology. He taught for three years in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program at the University of Florida and for five years at a liberal arts college, where he won multiple teaching awards and internal and external research funding for projects in the Indian Ocean region. He is the co-founder of the Institute for Indian Ocean Heritage and serves as a research associate at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Jonathan’s expertise concerns the anthropology and historical ecology of eastern Africa and the western Indian Ocean. He has conducted multiple research projects in Tanzania, Uganda, and India and has many publications, including refereed journal articles and book chapters. His scholarship emphasizes long-term human settlement and ecological change as well as issues related to Africans’ use of contemporary landscapes, seascapes, fauna, and medicinal plants.
Said Hamad Omar, Program Assistant
Said holds a BSc (Hon) in zoology and botany from the Open University of Tanzania 2011. He received a diploma in fisheries science from Kunduchi Fisheries in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and is currently working toward a master’s degree in environmental studies from the Open University of Tanzania. He has worked with fishermen and coastal villagers in Pemba and Unguja and has worked to increase marine and terrestrial conservation awareness in conjunction with forest and fisheries departments in Tanzania. Said has served as program assistant with SIT for more than a decade.
Zuleikha Makame and Ali Said, Office Managers
Zuleikha became the office manager at SIT after completing her degree in public administration from the University of Zanzibar in 2012. Her responsibilities involve administration and overseeing the library in both physical and electronic form. Ali has been with the program since 2007 and has a background in business. He helps coordinate logistics for students and the program.
BiAsia Abdullah, Swahili Language Coordinator
BiAsia is the coordinator of the program’s Kiswahili language course. She is a trained teacher from Zanzibar who has taught with the SIT Tanzania-Zanzibar program since 1998. She has been a language teacher for more than forty years.
Anuna Mukri, Homestay Coordinator
Anuna joined SIT in 2009 as a homestay mother. She later became homestay coordinator. Anuna studied professional beauty care and hairdressing in Canada for two years and is also a successful business woman. She has traveled to India, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada. Anuna enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures. She is also an excellent cook.
Moza Said Salim, Homestay Coordinator
Moza has more than 30 years of teaching experience. She has worked in the Zanzibar English Language Improvement Project as an English Language Training teacher trainer and at a teacher center in Zanzibar as a primary-level teacher trainer. She is a women’s coordinator in the Zanzibar Teachers Union and serves as a chairperson at the NGO Community Development and Environmental Conservation of Zanzibar. In 2009, Moza established STAR, a nursery school designed to support the community in her home island, Pemba, as it implements Zanzibar’s newly adopted government education policy. Moza joined SIT as a homestay coordinator for the Tanzania-Zanzibar program in 2007.
Narriman Jiddawi, PhD, Program Coordinator
Narriman has a PhD in marine biology from the University of Dar es Salaam, where she is a senior lecturer at the university’s Institute of Marine Sciences. She also holds an MS in fisheries biology and management from the University of North Wales and a BS in zoology/botany/education from the University of Dar es Salaam and has researched the age, growth, reproductive biology, and fishery of Indian mackerel (rastrelliger kanagurta) in Zanzibar. She has been program coordinator of the SIT Tanzania-Zanzibar program since its inception.
Lecturers for this program typically include:
Matthew Richmond, PhD
Matt is a marine biologist with a PhD from the University of Wales, Bangor. His doctoral thesis focused on the biodiversity and biogeography of shallow-water flora and fauna of the Western Indian Ocean. He edited A Field Guide to the Seashores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands (now in its third edition), the program’s textbook. He has more than 20 years’ experience with diverse tropical marine issues, mainly in East Africa, including oil/gas exploration, artisanal fisheries, environmental education, and taxonomy. He has consulted on environmental impact assessments, coastal zone management, and conservation and has worked with international NGOs, the World Bank, BBC, and the Tanzanian government. He has surveyed crown-of-thorns starfish and coral spawning on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, collected fisheries data on the Falkland Islands, and conducted crustacean taxonomy for Operation Raleigh’s “Pacific Island Crossing” expedition. He is an accomplished diver and underwater photographer and a writer, speaker, and lecturer.
Charles Lugomela, PhD, SIT Lecturer and Program Coordinator at the University of Dar es Salaam
Charles holds a PhD in plant physiology from Stockholm University and an MSc in marine biology and BSc in zoology and marine biology from the University of Dar Es Salaam. He is an associate professor at the University of Dar es Salaam and the university’s director of Knowledge Exchange. Previously, he served as head of the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries from 2010 to 2015. His research projects include a two-year outreach project to support the efforts of universities to address societal challenges through communication and dissemination of research findings at all levels and a five-year project to improve regional knowledge about climate-driven changes in water quality and fisheries in Lake Tanganyika. His numerous publications include articles in refereed journals, books chapters, conference proceedings, and consultancy reports.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
The program offers you two distinct homestay experiences to enable you to experience both urban and rural environments. Families are typically middle-class, but the middle-class standard of living varies considerably between urban and rural settings.
Your Zanzibar homestay families will welcome you into their family and involve you in many aspects of family life. You will share responsibilities such as cooking, attending religious celebrations, and visiting family friends and relatives. Your absorption into a local family will facilitate your acceptance and integration into the larger community. Many students stay in touch with their Zanzibari families long after their return to the US.
Other accommodations during the program include guest houses, small hotels, and university housing. In some semesters, the group may do some camping where permitted.
You will have a four-week homestay with a Swahili family in historic Stone Town, a remarkable city and UNESCO World Heritage site, distinguished for its impressive cultural and architectural legacies. The city boasts magnificent Arab architecture, bustling markets, narrow streets and alleyways, mosques, and museums.
During your stay in Stone Town, you will study and practice Kiswahili in the classroom and at home with your family. Throughout the homestay experience, you will participate in and learn more about the day-to-day cultural activities of your family, allowing you to experience Islamic traditions in the Zanzibari context. Your homestay family can help you make contacts for your Independent Study Project.
You will have a one-week homestay with a family on Pemba Island, the other large island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. Situated approximately 50 kilometers to the north of Zanzibar, Pemba is rural, with ancient forests, abundant agriculture, and a strong cultural identity. During this homestay, you will be immersed in a close-knit community and experience only sporadic electricity and, possibly, a rationed water supply. Sharing daily life with a family living close to the environment will give you a chance to experience how local people use natural resources.
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You will spend the final part of the semester focused on an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides you with an opportunity to critically examine a topic relating to the marine biodiversity, coastal ecology, terrestrial ecology, issues in resource consumption, or socioeconomic factors in natural resource management in the region. Research on certain topics can only be done in Zanzibar, as some of the examined species are unique to Zanzibar.
Past ISP topics have included examining a variety of conservation, social, and ecological issues, and research conducted by students on this program has served as a valuable resource to the Zanzibari government and other organizations in the region.
Sample ISP topic areas:
- Turtle conservation on Misali Island
- Oral histories of a Zanzibari fishing village
- A survey of invasive species in Jozani Forest
- Environmental impact of hotels on Unguja
- Pesticide use and awareness
- Coral reef biodiversity
- Amphibian ecology
- Butterfly and oyster farming as alternative incomes
- Sustainable use of natural resources for building materials
- The changing value of fish in a subsistence economy in relation to tourism
- Expression of environmental ethics through storytelling
Here is what alumni of the Tanzania: Zanzibar—Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management program are saying.
This was an amazing experience. I learned so much and grew as a person. There was a deep connection with the community and critical ecological issues.
Micalea Leaska, St. Michael's College
Eye-opening and challenging. This program shaped me as a person and provided me with a number of opportunities as a student.
Hannah Turley, University of Virginia
Students on this program represent many different colleges, universities, and majors. Many have gone on to do work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:
- Special assistant at the Office of the General Counsel, Washington, DC
- Research assistant / grad student (MA in marine affairs) at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
- Assistant field director at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for American Indian Health, AZ
- Fisheries technician at Normandeu Associates, Inc., Westmoreland, NH
- Community organizer for the Sierra Club, MO
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Zanzibari culture and society
- Coastal resource management
- Coral reef conservation
- Environmental Field Study Seminar on research methods and Human Subjects Review
- Intensive language instruction in Swahili
- All educational excursions to locations such as Pemba Island, Jozani and Ngezi Forests, Mikumi National Park, Misali Island Conservation Area, Chumbe Island Coral Park Ecotourism Project and Reserve, and the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,790
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Stone Town, Zanzibar), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays (four weeks in Stone Town and one week on Pemba Island)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $100
Books & Supplies: $100
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.