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Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology

Explore the balance between ecological concerns and socioeconomic objectives in the vast wilderness expanses of northern Tanzania.

The program challenges students to reframe notions of sustainability in relation to local population needs, perspectives, and values. Through rigorous thematic coursework and hands-on experiential learning, students consider how natural resource management will benefit future generations in light of the current factors driving environmental degradation. Students explore the country’s diverse human and natural environments through seminars and field visits to nature reserves and conservation areas.

Major topics of study include:

  • Marine biodiversity and field methodology at two marine reserves (Mbudya Island and Sinda Island) and one unprotected reef (Bawe Reef)
  • Kiswahili language
  • Tanzanian wildlife, including butterflies at the new Zanzibar Butterfly Centre and rare birds and endemic red colobus monkeys at Jozani Forest
  • Conservation and ecotourism
  • Coastal ecology and natural resource management in Zanzibar, Pemba, and coastal Tanzania
 
SIT Tanzania helped me develop a different perspective on the world and to view things through a very different, non-western lens.

Tara Boggaram, The University of Texas at Austin

BangataTanzania is a beautiful and diverse country in East Africa spanning the Serengeti Plains; Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak; and the Zanzibar archipelago. The Serengeti ecosystem (approximately 25,000 square km) includes Oldupai Gorge, a formation of the Great Rift Valley system and the site of renowned early hominid fossil discoveries by Mary and Louis Leakey.

The Serengeti also contains the immense Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO world heritage site and the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. The Serengeti is home to a large and diverse population of wildlife. More than 120 ethnic groups live in Tanzania, comprising tremendous cultural and linguistic diversity, though unified by a single national language — Kiswahili.

Scale and Location

Two key watchwords for this program are "scale" and "location." Students consider a few essential questions throughout the semester, exploring how changes in scale and location have an impact on these inquiries. To fully appreciate the diversity and complexity of this region, students are on the move, exploring the variety of natural habitats. Excursions are chosen specifically to provide a variety of locations and scale.

Not Just Science

In this interdisciplinary program, students realize that ecosystems are inseparable from the human ecology of the region and that issues related to development and human population growth inevitably affects the natural habitat (and vice versa). Through the Environmental Research Methods and Ethics course and program fieldwork, students learn to integrate their scientific learning with the social sciences, creating a more complete and complex picture of ecology and conservation.

lionSupportive Partners

The program has three major in-country partners: Sokoine University of Agriculture, Klub Afriko Cultural Orientation Center, and the host communities. These partners are instrumental in the success of the program, and many students have returned to work with the program’s partners in future endeavors.

Independent Study Project

Students spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a selected topic of individual interest. The ISP is conducted in Arusha, Moshi, or surrounding areas, or with program approval, in other parts of Tanzania. 

Sample topic areas include:

  • Impact of tourism on the natural environment or cultures
  • Management options in designated wildlife areas
  • Environmental education
  • Soil conservation and agricultural practices
  • Wildlife-livestock disease interaction in the Kwakuchinja corridor
  • Behavior of primates, e.g., Colobus guereza and olive baboons in Sagara Forest
  • Wood use in various types of protected areas, including village forests
  • Bio-indicator studies, e.g., birds and butterflies at various locations
  • Perspectives on population and the environment
  • Vegetation analysis and elephant damage at Ndarakwai Ranch

Note: Because of restrictions on fieldwork in Tanzania, students should expect to spend all or most of the Independent Study Project outside the boundaries of Tanzania’s national parks.

Prerequisites:

Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation in environmental studies, ecology, biology, sociology, anthropology, international relations, or related fields, as assessed by SIT.

Access Virtual Library Guide

The semester is divided into four highly integrated courses: Intensive Language Study in Kiswahili, Environmental Research Methods and Ethics, Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology Seminar, and the Independent Study Project.

The Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology Seminar consists of two components: 1) Life and Culture and 2) Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology. The Life and Culture component includes lectures on history, politics/economics, and current events. The Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology lectures focus on wildlife ecology, conservation, environmental issues, and national park management. During the Environmental Research Methods and Ethics course, students learn how to integrate both social science and ecological field techniques through anthropological and field ecology projects. These skills are then applied during the Independent Study Project (ISP).

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on 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.

Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology Seminar - syllabus
(ENVI 3000 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
An interdisciplinary course conducted in English, with required readings, examining the relationships between socioeconomic objectives, ecological parameters, and cultural transitions from multi scale/actor perspectives in various Tanzanian landscapes. Lecturers are drawn from institutions such as the Sokoine University of Agriculture, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, and various nongovernmental organizations.

Environmental Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus
(ENVI 3500 / 4 credits / 60 class 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 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. Specific qualitative field study methods include designing research projects; writing a research proposal; interviewing; surveys; participatory rural appraisal techniques; maintaining a field study journal; and data set analysis. Specific ecological field study methods include micro- and macrohabitat analysis; wildlife population sampling and analysis; fauna and flora identification; animal behavior; geographic information systems; and statistical analysis of data sets.

Intensive Language Study: Beginning Kiswahili - syllabus
(SWAH 1000–1500 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Intermediate Kiswahili - syllabus
(SWAH 2000–2500 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in intensive classes, with further language practice during homestays, lectures, and excursions.

Independent Study Project - syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Arusha, Moshi, or surrounding areas or, with program approval, in other parts of Tanzania. Sample topic areas: impact of tourism on local cultures or the natural environment; perspectives on management options in designated wildlife areas; environmental education; soil conservation in Mayo Village; body modifications among Maasai at Ngare Sero; behavior of Colobus guereza in Sagara Forest; canopy and habitat use in sympatric primate species; modernized farming methods in Mgwashi; Arusha youths’ views on population and the environment; vegetation analysis of elephant damage at Ndarakwai Ranch.

Note: Because of restrictions on fieldwork in Tanzania, participants should expect to spend all or most of the Independent Study Project outside the boundaries of Tanzania’s national parks.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

First morning in Tarangire National Park

The program includes excursions to nature reserves and conservation areas such as Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, and Tarangire National Park.

All excursions are designed with the objective of changing scales and locations, providing a variety of lenses and perspectives for students to explore essential questions. At the largest scale, the program travels through the 25,000 square kilometer Serengeti-Ngorongoro ecosystem. This final, 14-day safari provides a re-focusing of the content of the program in preparation for the Independent Study Project.

The mid-scale experience takes place in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, where students explore a fragmented ecosystem and the western conservation model of national parks. The smallest scale safari is to a tropical forest, where the group explores the micro-temporal and micro-spatial aspects that are replicated on larger scales — an exercise in fractal geometry. These different locations also provide insight into the ways that different ethnic groups interact in their landscapes.

Reese MatthewsReese Matthews, Academic Director

Reese Matthews has an MS in science education from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MS in technology and science policy from the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy at Georgia Tech, where his thesis focused on alternative environmental resource management policies for Antarctica. Reese was a US Peace Corps volunteer (1989–1991) at Lomahasha Central High School in Swaziland, teaching science and biology classes and setting up a school library and senior science laboratory. He was the academic director for the SIT Tanzania Biodiversity and Conservation program (1998–2000) and came to the Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology program in January 2001.

Oscar Pascal Nyaknya, Program Assistant

Oscar comes to the program with three years of field experience with the Tanzania Wildlife Division as a game officer. Oscar completed his academic training at Mweka College of Wildlife Management in Moshi. His practical knowledge adds a much-needed lens for students who are learning about wildlife conservation in northern Tanzania.

Mercy Kambde (Mama Juni), Office Manager

Mama Juni has been with SIT in Tanzania since 2009 and her organizational work provides a strong foundation for the program. Mercy is from the waChagga ethnic group of Kilimanjaro; she completed her administrative studies at a local college and worked extensively in Arusha before joining the SIT team.

Beatrice Mollel, Kiswahili Language Coordinator

Beatrice is the language coordinator and head Kiswahili language teacher with SIT Arusha. She has been developing the program’s Kiswahili materials and classes since 2004. Beatrice directs a capable team of five teachers and was instrumental in an East Africa–wide process of standardizing SIT’s Kiswahili language courses. Beatrice is also pursuing her BA in education at a local university.

Lecturers for this program are drawn from institutions such as:

Additional program lecturers:

  • Lazurus Likindikokoi — also known as Babu (grandfather) Liki — is a veteran wildlife expert and guide working for over three decades in the field of wildlife conservation. His work experience includes the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Authority (NCAA) and the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) where he founded the national Community Conservation Service (CCS).
  • Anthony Rapheal — also known as Bwana Ndege (Mr. Bird) — is an independent ornithologist and celebrated bird scholar in East Africa. Anthony also runs a successful private birding company in Arusha. 

villageThe program’s host communities in Bangata and Ngare Sero provide a foundation for the program’s success. In Arusha, students spend three weeks living with a family in the peri-urban community of Bangata. This village, about 8 km from Arusha town, is high on the slopes (1500 m) of Mt. Meru. Accommodation is varied between "modern" houses with electricity and wattle and daub homes. The families range from two-parent professional households (veterinarians, teachers, doctors) to those headed by single mother subsistent farmers.

Another homestay takes place in the Maasai village of Ngare Sero for one week. This is a semi-remote village at the base of the Maasai sacred mountain Ol Doinyo Lengai. Again, students are placed singularly, only this time there is very little variation in living conditions.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels, private homes, small hotels, and 33 nights of camping.

Program Dates: Spring 2015

Program Start Date:  Jan 22, 2015

Program End Date:    May 6, 2015

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Nov 1, 2014

 

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $15,950

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Tanzanian cultures and society
    • Wildlife and conservation
  • Environmental Research Methods and Ethics course focusing on environmental research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • Intensive language instruction in Kiswahili
  • All educational excursions to locations including nature reserves and conservation areas such as Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Mazumbai Forest Reserve, Ndarakwai Ranch, Loliondo Game Controlled Area, Enashiva Nature Reserve, and Tarangire National Park, including all related travel costs
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board:$2,960

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 (Arusha), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.  Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
  • All homestays (three weeks in Arusha and one week in a Maasai village)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare

International airfares 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

Immunizations varies

Books & Supplies :$100

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during a semester abroad 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.

 

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SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

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