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Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

Examine coastal ecology and natural resource management in one of the most remarkable areas of the world: the Zanzibar islands of the western Indian Ocean.

This program utilizes Zanzibar’s unique ecological context to explore specific environmental topics, including coral reef conservation, tropical forest management, and resource management. Through thematic coursework and direct field experience, students examine issues arising from the tense juxtaposition of seasonal population growth and economic development with conservation of the local environment. Students learn to reframe notions of ecological sustainability in relation to local population needs, perspectives, and values.

Major topics of study include:

  • 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
 
This program was a life-changing experience for me, and the Independent Study Project (ISP) proved to be the most rewarding. During the ISP, I was able to live and travel safely on my own for three weeks in rural areas of Zanzibar as I studied beliefs in spirits and sacred sites. I was forced to put myself out of my comfort zone, but in doing so I realized that I had learned much more of the culture and language than I had realized throughout the semester.

Julie Bardenwerper, Gustavus Adolphus College

Swahili InstructionZanzibar'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 students 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, students explore the diversity and natural resources of Zanzibar (known locally as Unguja), Pemba, and coastal Tanzania, challenging themselves to understand the larger questions of conservation practice in the region.

The program consists of the following main phases:

  • Orientation followed by a four-week homestay in Stone Town during which students take Kiswahili language classes and attend lectures at the Institute of Marine Sciences
  • A four-week period during which students participate in seminars and conduct field assignments as part of the Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management Seminar and the Environmental Research Methods and Ethics course (this includes time on Pemba Island, on Chumbe Island, and in Jozani Forest)
  • One week at the University of Dar es Salaam on Tanzania’s mainland for lectures at the university and a brief safari to Mikumi National Park
  • A four-week period during which students undertake an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP may focus on marine biodiversity, terrestrial ecology, issues in resource consumption, or socioeconomic factors in natural resource management.

Each program phase exposes students to different perspectives on natural resource management and development through interactions with a variety of stakeholders.

Program highlights include:

  • Lectures and excursions in conjunction with the University of Dar es Salaam and its affiliate, the Institute of Marine Sciences, in Zanzibar
  • A marine biodiversity module focused on field methodology at two marine reserves (Mbudya Island and Sinda Island) and one unprotected reef (Bawe Reef)
  • Kiswahili language study and the opportunity to practice the language during two homestays: one in Stone Town, Zanzibar, and the other on Pemba Island
  • Wildlife exposure during visits to the new Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, Jozani Forest to view rare birds and endemic red colobus monkeys, and Mikumi National Park on the Tanzanian mainland, among other places
  • Excursions to Pemba Island, Misali Island Conservation Area, Chumbe Island Coral Park Ecotourism Project and Reserve, and the Kidike Flying Fox Ecotourism Project
  • Snorkeling off Bawe, Changuu, Misali, Mbudya, and Sinda Islands

By utilizing SIT's extensive regional networks, students have the opportunity to learn through a wide array of academic, professional, and community experts. Collaboration with both government and nongovernmental agencies, as well as with the Institute of Marine Sciences, provides outstanding experiential components to the program.

Major partners include:

Stone Town

The program is based in the remarkable city of Stone Town, a 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. From their base in Stone Town, students examine issues in marine and coastal environments through lectures and short excursions arranged through the Institute of Marine Sciences. Additionally, students begin Kiswahili language classes and have the opportunity to live with a host family, ensuring further immersion in the local language and culture. 

presentationEnvironmental Field Study and Research

Throughout the program, students participate in educational excursions that complement and enhance classroom learning. One of the first is a ten-day excursion to Unguja's sister island of Pemba. Pemba, a more rural community, is the base for addressing issues affecting villagers and local fishermen. Students typically take field trips to locations such as 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. Later in the program, students spend ten days in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city. Students live in a guest house near the University of Dar es Salaam, where thematic lectures and educational excursions are presented by relevant professors from different departments at the University.

Excursions relate directly to the program's Environmental Research Methods and Ethics course, which instructs students on the techniques, methods, and ethics necessary for successful field research. Throughout this section of the program, students establish ideas for their Independent Study Project (ISP) and learn to properly develop their research topics.

Independent Study Project

Students spend the final part of the semester focused on an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides students with an opportunity to critically examine a topic relating to the coastal ecology and 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 such as pesticide use and awareness, coral reef biodiversity, amphibian ecology, alternative income projects such as butterfly farming and oyster farming, sustainable use of natural resources for building materials, the changing value of fish in a subsistence economy in relation to tourism, and the expression of environmental ethics through storytelling. Past research conducted by students on this program has served as a valuable resource to the Zanzibari government and other organizations in the region.

Prerequisites:

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.

Access Virtual Library Guide

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.

The interdisciplinary coursework in the Tanzania: Zanzibar — Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management program focuses on coastal ecology and natural resource management in the context of coastal Tanzania. Students examine the impact of human activity on the environment and the ways in which thoughtful and sustainable management of natural resources can serve both human and environmental interests. Students participate in a variety of research and cultural activities throughout the semester and learn from researchers, professionals, practitioners, and other development and conservation specialists. During the final month of the semester, students leverage their field study experience and research skills to conduct an Independent Study Project (ISP).

Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management Seminar – syllabus
(ENVI 3000 / 4 credits / 60 class 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.

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 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.

Beginning Kiswahili – syllabus
(SWAH 1000–1500 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
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 beginning classes, with further language practice during homestays, lectures, and excursions.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class 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.

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.

groupEducational excursions give students an unparalleled opportunity to examine directly the consequences of ecotourism on coastal forests and ecosystems. Excursions are carefully chosen and integrated into the overall coursework.

Many of the excursions on the program take students directly into the water to explore marine habitats and coastal ecology. Through snorkeling, students gain a far better appreciation of what is occurring in the Indian Ocean by examining it firsthand under the guidance of local experts. Students 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 some students can then use for their Independent Study Project. These hands-on learning experiences help students appreciate the interconnectedness of coastal ecology and a healthy biotic system.

Additional excursions may include: 

  • butterfly centerThe Zanzibar Butterfly Centre. The center was 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 student study projects 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.
  • The Pemba Essential Oils Distillery. 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 student studies 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.
  • The Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary. A local community on Pemba Island has turned this fruit-bat roosting site into an ecotourism destination featuring guided tours, a lookout tower, and a visit to the ruins of a fourteenth-century Arab-Swahili town. SIT students on their Independent Study Projects have assisted the village committee in developing and promoting ecotourism and conservation of this endangered species. There are opportunities for future studies focusing on marketing, management, training of guides, and biology and behavior of the bats, to provide baseline data for the management of increasing numbers of visitors to the colony.
  • Chumbe Island Coral Park. A privately owned marine sanctuary on an island off the southeast coast of Zanzibar, Chumbe Island Coral Park is home to the rare coconut crab and a stunning coral reef. During a one-day excursion, students are introduced to low-impact tourism and environmental education. The park also hosts Zanzibari school groups for special educational field trips, providing the first exposure ever to coral reefs and marine resources for some of these students. Opportunities for student studies include monitoring the coconut crab (population dynamics and distribution), as it is currently listed as 'data deficient' with the IUCN.
  • Mikumi National Park. A visit to this national park is a chance to see some of Tanzania's famous wildlife in their natural environment, and learn more about mammals, birds, and reptiles and their habitats.

Excursions give students hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to further illuminate thematic coursework and other classroom learning.

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.

Tyler Plante, Franklin and Marshall College

Helen PeeksHelen Peeks, Academic Director

Helen Peeks received a BA in environment and social values from Glamorgan University, Wales, in 1996 and a master's degree in environment and development from Cambridge University in 2001. For the last 20 years, she has worked in Zanzibar, mainland Tanzania, Uganda, the United States, and Japan in the field of education. Helen directed a volunteer teacher and environmental education program in Tanzania and managed a school-linking program in Uganda in 2002. More recently, Helen worked with the award-winning marine conservation and eco-tourism project Chumbe Island Coral Park in Zanzibar, where she was the general project manager for five years. In addition to her background in environmental education, she is a published photographer and has studied counseling and alternative healthcare. Helen was the academic director of the Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management program from 2008 until 2013 when she took a year off to do the Master’s in Social Anthropology program at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.

Additional Staff

Said OmarSaid Hamad Omar, Program Assistant

Said has served as program assistant with SIT Study Abroad for more than a decade. His responsibilities include helping to coordinate the students’ daily activities, academic schedule, and excursions; assisting the academic director; and advising students on Zanzibari culture.

Said received a diploma in fisheries science from Kunduchi Fisheries in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He holds a BSc (Hon) in zoology and botany from the Open University of Tanzania 2011 and is currently working toward a master’s degree in environmental studies (MES) from the Open University of Tanzania. The title of his thesis is “Abundance and species composition of crabs in undisturbed and disturbed mangroves caused by salt pan in the eastern coast of Pemba.” Previously, Said worked with fishermen and coastal villagers both in Pemba and Unguja. He has a long history of working to increase conservation awareness of both marine and terrestrial natural resources in conjunction with forest and fisheries departments in Tanzania.

AbdullahBiAsia 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 almost forty years.

MukriAnuna Mukri, Homestay Coordinator

Anuna Mukri joined SIT in 2009 as a homestay mother. She was recently appointed 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 Said Salim has more than 30 years of teaching experience. She has worked in the Zanzibar English Language Improvement Project as an English Language Training (ELT) 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. In 2007, Moza joined SIT Study Abroad as a homestay coordinator for the Tanzania-Zanzibar program.

JiddawaiNarriman Jiddawi, Program Coordinator

Ms. Jiddawi is a senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam's Institute of Marine Sciences. She has been program coordinator of the SIT Tanzania-Zanzibar program since its inception. Ms. Jiddawi has a PhD in marine biology from the University of Dar es Salaam (2000); her thesis was a study on the age, growth, reproductive biology, and fishery of Indian mackerel (rastrelliger kanagurta) in Zanzibar. Dr. Jiddawi 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. For a comprehensive outline of Ms. Jiddawi's research and teaching experience, as well as a listing of her publications, please click here.

Lecturers for this program typically include:

RichmondMatthew Richmond, PhD

Matt Richmond 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. Mr. Richmond edited A Field Guide to the Seashores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands (now in its third edition), which is the textbook for SIT’s Zanzibar coastal ecology program.

Dr. Richmond has over 20 years of professional experience with diverse tropical marine environmental issues (mainly in East Africa), including oil/gas exploration, artisanal fisheries, environmental education, and taxonomy. He has extensive consultancy experience involving environmental impact assessments (EIAs), coastal zone management, and conservation. Dr. Richmond has worked with diverse international NGOs, the World Bank, BBC, and the Tanzanian government, among other entities. His field research includes surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish and coral spawning on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, fisheries data collection on the Falkland Islands, and crustacean taxonomy for Operation Raleigh’s “Pacific Island Crossing” expedition.

He is an accomplished diver and underwater photographer, as well as writer, speaker, and lecturer. He is equally at home teaching intertidal biodiversity to students in the field and working as an expert witness for governmental EIA proceedings.

Mr. Richmond teaches a module on coral reef training and serves as an ISP advisor for the SIT Zanzibar program.

MgayaProfessor Yunus Daud Mgaya, PhD, Lecturer and Program Coordinator at the University of Dar es Salaam

Professor Mgaya holds a PhD in aquaculture from University College Galway, Ireland; an MS in fisheries biology from the University of British Columbia, Canada; and a BS in zoology and marine biology from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Today, he is a professor at the University of Dar es Salaam as well as the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for planning, finance, and administration. Previously, he served as dean of the Faculty of Aquatic Sciences and Technology (2003–2006).

Dr. Mgaya’s ongoing research projects include:

  • The use of peri-urban mangrove forests as filters and potential phytoremediators of domestic sewage in East Africa
  • National and regional analyses to improve management
  • Evaluation of different stocking densities for commercial production of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) with Ningu (Labeo victorianus) and African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) in earthen ponds
  • The importance of mangroves and seagrass beds as nurseries for coral reef fishes in Tanzania

His numerous publications include articles in refereed journals, books, chapters in books, edited and published conference proceedings, and consultancy reports. Awards include WIOMSA (Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association) recognition of outstanding contribution to advancement in the knowledge of marine and coastal science in the Western Indian Ocean region, 2007 (certificate and trophy). Dr. Mgaya is currently the chairman of the board of directors of the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute.

The program offers students two distinct homestay experiences to enable students to experience both urban and rural environments. Families typically tend to be middle-class, but the middle-class standard of living varies considerably between urban and rural settings.

Zanzibar homestay families welcome students into their family and involve them in many aspects of family life. Students share responsibilities such as cooking, attending religious celebrations, and visiting family friends and relatives. Typically, a student's absorption into a local family facilitates their acceptance and integration into the larger community.

Stone Town

gameStudents have a four-week homestay with a Swahili family in historic Stone Town, a remarkable city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. During their stay in Stone Town, students study and practice Kiswahili in the classroom and at home with their family. Throughout the homestay experience, students participate in and learn more about the day-to-day cultural activities of the family, allowing students to experience Islamic traditions in the Zanzibari context. Homestay families often help students make contacts for their Independent Study Project. Many students stay in touch with their Zanzibar families long after their return to the US.

Pemba Island

Students have a one-week homestay with a family on Pemba Island, the other large island in the Zanzibar Archipelago in addition to Unguja. 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, students are immersed in a close-knit community and experience only sporadic electricity and, possibly, a rationed water supply. Sharing daily life with families living close to the environment gives students a chance to experience how local people use natural resources.

Other accommodations during the program include guest houses, small hotels, and university housing. In some semesters, the group may do some camping where permitted.

Program Dates: Spring 2015

Program Start Date:  Jan 24, 2015

Program End Date:    May 8, 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: $15,110

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 either by SIT Study Abroad directly or 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 either by SIT Study Abroad directly or 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

Immunizations: Varies

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.

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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802 258-3212, 888 272-7881 (Toll-free in the US), Fax: 802 258-3296 

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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