One of the main aspects of the SFS model that sets it apart from other study abroad programs and traditional US collegiate learning environments is the integration of classroom education with experiential exercises conducted in the field. During their second day in Tanzania, students sit through an academic orientation where the Center faculty members introduce our Center’s ongoing wildlife management and environmental policy case study within the ecosystems where we are located and operate. The introduction is not unlike previous case studies that students have investigated at their home institutions. The difference is that students at SFS Centers across the world have the opportunity to live and interact with our ongoing case studies through experiential education and research in the field.
During previous semesters, students have voiced to me and to each other how refreshing they find the SFS emphasis on field studies and experiential education, after coming from collegiate learning environments in the US where both of those aspects are often lacking. When I was a student here in fall of 2015, I remember being excited about being able to investigate a seemingly endless amount of information regarding the SFS case study in Tanzania. Uncovering information experientially was completely different from my experiences prior to studying abroad, where I was required to read through limited information from a location or case study that had already been interpreted by someone before me. Living within a case study gives students the opportunity to interpret information themselves, pursue original ideas and ask questions that they would be unable to answer in a traditional collegiate environment.