Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management


Previous college-level coursework in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields, as assessed by SIT. Three recent semesters of college-level French or equivalent, and the ability to follow coursework in French, as assessed by SIT.

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Classes will be conducted mainly in academic French, with university professors and experts in relevant fields teaching the Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management seminar.

The Environmental Research Methods and Ethics seminar, conducted mainly in English, focuses on research techniques and cross-cultural adjustment skills, and is intended to prepare students for the Independent Study Project. Readings and classroom sessions for the Research Methods and Ethics course are supplemented by a short field research project undertaken in a rural village.

The program’s French language course builds students’ capacity through a focus on conversational French and also aims to enhance their use of French in the context of the natural sciences. Coursework in Malagasy provides students with the foundational and essential tools required for daily use. 

The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming session. 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.

Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management - syllabus (PDF)
(ENVI 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
An interdisciplinary seminar conducted primarily in French, with required readings, analyzing the environmental challenges and conservation and development strategies in Madagascar across scales, from local to global. The focus is on Madagascar’s southern region. Resources utilized in the delivery of course content include the Libanona Ecology Center, Department of Natural Sciences at the University of Antananarivo and the Marine Studies Institute of the University of Tulear, as well as international and local environmental nongovernmental organizations such as Madagascar National Parks, WWF, Azafady, Blue Ventures, Reef Doctor, and Honko.

French for Natural Sciences - syllabus (PDF)
French for Natural Sciences - syllabus (PDF) – en français
(FREN 2000 – 2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
French for Natural Sciences - syllabus (PDF)
French for Natural Sciences - syllabus (PDF) – en français
(FREN 3000 – 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Focusing on oral proficiency in the context of the natural sciences with a biodiversity and natural resource management concentration, language teaching is targeted toward the many activities in the thematic and research methods seminars in order to help students work more independently in the field. The objective is to facilitate students’ interactions with a range of professionals in the field working to manage resources while promoting development within the local cultural context. In support of these objectives, course content provides additional focus on fundamentals of spoken and written French to increase student capacity. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in the appropriate level, with additional language practice in homestays and on field visits.

Intensive Language Study: Malagasy - syllabus (PDF)
Intensive Language Study: Malagasy - syllabus (PDF) - en français
(MALA 1000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Emphasis on beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Formal instruction is augmented by language practice with homestay families.

Environmental Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus (PDF)
(ENVI 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Conducted primarily in English, this is a course in social and natural sciences research methods.  The focus is on learning how to collect, analyze, integrate, and report social and ecological data to critically understand and evaluate various environmental issues. The course serves as an introduction to the Independent Study Project and includes a focus on field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. Field studies may include designing a research project; writing a proposal; interviewing; surveys; and maintaining a field journal. Specific ecological field study methods may include habitat surveys; biotic sampling and analysis; fauna and flora identification; biodiversity monitoring; population censusing; and animal behavior.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted primarily in southern Madagascar or other appropriate locations. Sample topic areas: reforestation; coral reef conservation; medicinal plants in the marketplace; ecotourism; carbon sequestration and financing; land tenure reform and agricultural production; conservation assessments of endangered species; cash crop production and links to local livelihoods; sacred forests; community based resource management; behavioral ecology of lemurs; sustainable land use techniques.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Fort Dauphin (Tolagnaro)

Language Study: French,  Malagasy

Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields; 3 semesters college-level French Read more...

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Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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