Kenya

Center for Endangered Species Conservation

Kenya

In the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya’s dynamic ecosystems provide habitats for an astounding diversity of flora and fauna including the “Big Five” – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos. The region is home to pastoralist tribal communities such as the Maasai.
Kenya’s rich biodiversity is under threat from habitat fragmentation, human development, shifting human demographics, land-use changes, and natural resource availability. Our research here focuses on endangered species conservation, land use changes, and ecotourism outside of protected areas. As we examine the impacts of various threats, we explore conservation approaches to resource management that will benefit humans and wildlife alike.



semester

15 Weeks

|

18 Credits


Spring 2024

 Jan 30 - May 10

In The Field

Fall 2024

 Sep 1 - Dec 12

Open

Spring 2025

 Jan 30 - May 10

Open


PROGRAM COSTS

Tuition:

$20,200

Room & Board:

$5,300

Total Cost:

$25,500


Sample Itinerary


Sample Itinerary:

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semester PROGRAM

Endangered Species

Kimana, Rift Valley, Southern Kenya


Study diverse wildlife and engage in hands-on conservation research in the world-famous national parks and stunning landscapes of Kenya and Rwanda. In Kenya, the survival of several endangered, threatened, and vulnerable species hinges on many factors, including the availability of critical resources, climate change, and land use adjustments. Research the root causes of these changes and how different conservation strategies can benefit both humans and wildlife. In Rwanda, you’ll view additional iconic endangered species, compare national conservation strategies, and hike into the rainforest to witness mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

  • On a multi-day camping trip, explore Amboseli National Park – widely regarded as the best place in the world to observe free-ranging elephants.
  • Track endangered mountain gorillas through the Rwandan rainforest with guest lecturers from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. For a life changing hour, live face to face with one of the most majestic creatures on earth.
  • Visit multiple conservancies and wildlife orphanages, learning how experts care for and use technology to steward lion, white and black rhinoceros, elephant, zebra and other wildlife populations.
  • Spend the day with a local Maasai family and learn about their culture, history, daily life, and relationship with nature.
  • Conduct a comprehensive field research project: Develop a research question, collect and analyze data, write a paper, and present your findings. Read more about SFS Directed Research projects.

Application deadlines:
Spring – November 15
Fall – May 15

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Academics

This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. Each program combines theory learned during classroom sessions with field-based applications. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Kenya. Read more about the SFS program model. Major academic themes include:

  • Wildlife management
  • Climate change resilience
  • Water conservation
  • Wildlife ecology and behavior
  • Conservation strategies
  • Community governance of protected areas
  • National parks management

Courses

On the Endangered Species program, you will take three 4-credit disciplinary courses, one 2-credit language and culture course, and a 4-credit capstone Directed Research course. Courses are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning. Each course combines lectures, field exercises, assignments, tests, and research. All courses are taught in English. Click on each course to view a description and download a syllabus.

SFS 2060
Introduction to Swahili Language and East African Culture
2 credits
SFS 3752
Endangered Species Conservation
4 credits
SFS 3721
Ecology of Endangered Wildlife
4 credits
SFS 3072
Human Dimensions of Endangered Species Conservation
4 credits
SFS 4910
Directed Research
4 credits

SFS 2060 Introduction to Swahili Language and East African Culture (2 credits)

This course contains two distinct but integrated modules. The Swahili language module offers listening, oral, and written practice of the Swahili language, at a basic level of proficiency, to increase students’ communication and comprehension skills. The sociocultural aspects of Kenyan tribe's module emphasize understanding of, and direct contact and interaction with, the native communities with which SFS works, primarily the Maasai. This exposure to culture and language is reviewed and processed through lectures, field exercises, and classroom discussion. The sociocultural module is designed to help students engage in the culture and be therefore more adept at working effectively in their Directed Research efforts.

 

View Syllabus

SFS 3752 Endangered Species Conservation (4 credits)

The Endangered Species Conservation course aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the historical context and principles of conservation and management, particularly in resource management. It explores the utilitarian approach that advocates for sustainable management of renewable resources to prevent their exhaustion. The course emphasizes the urgent need for efficient utilization of available resources to address the contemporary challenges of species extinction, ecosystem degradation, and fragmentation of indigenous vegetation. Students will learn about the decision-making processes involved in determining the threatened status of species, selecting appropriate management strategies, and allocating resources effectively. The course specifically focuses on the landscape dynamics of East Africa Savanna Ecosystems and their impact on the vulnerability of wildlife species. It examines regional and Kenyan conservation efforts and provides hands-on training in field techniques for assessing and monitoring vulnerable species. The course also employs a comparative approach to evaluate the effectiveness of different management systems at local, regional, and global scales. Overall, students will gain practical knowledge and skills that will be applied to meet the objectives of the Directed Research component of the course.   View syllabus.

SFS 3721 Ecology of Endangered Wildlife (4 credits)

This course explores the concept of biodiversity and its significance in sustaining human life on Earth. Biodiversity encompasses various living organisms, including plants, animals, fungi, and microbes, as well as the diversity of ecosystems and genetic variation. It provides numerous values, both intrinsic and utilitarian, such as fuel, medicine, food, and ecological services like water purification and climate regulation. Biodiversity also holds cultural and recreational values and profoundly shapes human societies. However, human activities have caused a rapid decline in biodiversity, with many species facing extinction. The IUCN Red List highlights the alarming number of species at risk, primarily due to habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, climate change, and invasive species. Conservation efforts have had mixed success, and the course will examine strategies and resources used to mitigate species vulnerability. The IUCN Red List serves as a vital tool for monitoring and informing conservation decisions globally, categorizing species based on their risk of extinction. Understanding the status and conservation of biodiversity is crucial for developing effective policies and initiatives to address the ongoing biodiversity crisis.   View syllabus.

SFS 3072 Human Dimensions of Endangered Species Conservation (4 credits)

This academic course focuses on the crucial role of biodiversity and its diverse values, both intrinsic and utilitarian, in sustaining human life on Earth. It explores the interconnectedness between humans and the natural world, emphasizing the need for meaningful cross-country collaboration, participation of local communities, and respect for human rights and cultural diversity in conservation efforts. The course delves into the human dimensions of conservation, drawing upon concepts from social sciences such as Anthropology and Political Ecology. It examines the relationships between people, endangered species, and their environment, investigating how human behavior, values, and knowledge influence and are impacted by decisions regarding the management of endangered species. The course seeks to achieve a balanced interaction between politics, economics, cultures, and technology to conserve and restore populations of endangered species while considering human well-being. By incorporating societal values into conservation planning and decision-making, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the human dimensions of conservation and develop the necessary tools and methods for conservation research.   View syllabus.

SFS 4910 Directed Research (4 credits)

This course prepares students to distinguish hidden assumptions in scientific approaches and separate fact from interpretation, cause from correlation, and advocacy from objectivity. Students learn specific tools including: experimental design; field techniques; basic descriptive statistics; and parametric and non-parametric quantitative analysis. Emphasis is placed on succinct scientific writing, graphic and tabular presentation of results, and effective delivery of oral presentations.

 

View Syllabus

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: GIS, wildlife census techniques, natural resource valuation, water quality assessment, basic Swahili language skills, interview and survey methods, research design and implementation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and research presentation.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include: the vast savannas at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, national parks and wildlife management areas in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem, ranches and farms, rural villages, Maasai Mara National Reserve, conservancies, and farms, acacia forests, Indigenous communities, and wildlife migratory corridors.

summer session I

04 Weeks

|

04 Credits


Summer 2024

 Jun 3 - Jul 2

Open


PROGRAM COSTS

Tuition:

$5,355

Room & Board:

$2,395

Total Cost:

$7,750


Sample Itinerary


Sample Itinerary:

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summer session I PROGRAM

Giraffe Ecology and Conservation

Rift Valley, Kenya


Immerse yourself in the world-famous national parks and reserves of Kenya while studying the world’s tallest terrestrial animal. Through safari drives, field excursions, and conversations with wildlife experts, you will study emerging giraffe conservation issues and develop an understanding of policy implementation and legal protections. You’ll explore traditional knowledge and different approaches to wildlife management and conservation with the Maasai and local community groups.  

  • Enjoy travelling lectures to multiple conservancies within Amboseli ecosystem, home to the majority of giraffe populations. 
  • On two multi-day camping trips, explore both Amboseli National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve to view a wide range of megaherbivores and predators in different habitats. 
  • Visit local Maasai communities and settlements (‘manyatta’) to converse and understand how they coexistence with wildlife around them. 

Application deadlines:
Summer 1 – April 1
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Academics

This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. Each program combines theory learned during classroom sessions with field-based applications. The interdisciplinary curriculum facilitates students' active discovery and understanding of the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Kenya. Read more about the SFS program model. Major academic themes include:

  • Giraffe behavioral ecology and communication 
  • Poaching and legal framework transformations in wildlife conservation  
  • Wildlife displacement and its effects on giraffes 
  • Disease and veterinary services in Kenya 
  • Use of technology in giraffe conservation efforts 
  • Transboundary giraffe conservation 
  • Habitat intruders and threats to giraffe populations 

Courses

On the Giraffe Ecology and Conservation program, you will take one 4-credit course. This course is participatory in nature and is designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, and tests. This course is taught in English.  Click on each course to view a description and download the syllabus.

SFS 3253
Giraffe Ecology Conservation
4 Credits

SFS 3253 Giraffe Ecology Conservation (4 Credits)

The Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an iconic species in the woodlands of Africa. As the world’s tallest land mammal, they have a widespread distribution across southern and eastern Africa and have a profound influence on the structure and dynamics of landscapes where they co‐exist with other species. Historically, giraffes ranged widely across much of the African continent, but they are now confined in national parks and reserves, conservancies, private ranches, and community land. Over the past three decades, giraffes across Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced a 30% population decline, with fewer than 80,000 individuals now surviving in the wild. In this course, students will learn and examine multiple aspects of giraffe ecology and conservation in Africa, especially in the Kenyan Amboseli, Nakuru, and Maasai‐mara landscapes. This learning process will be achieved through classroom interactive learning sessions, experiential field activities, class discussions and lectures by Faculty and various guests.   View Syllabus

Core Skills

You will acquire practical skills in the field such as: giraffe identification techniques, ground counts, behavioral studies, home range assessment using telemetry, mitigation of human-wildlife conflicts, basic introduction to Swahili language, conducting social surveys, oral presentation skills, and data synthesis, analysis, and interpretation. 

Field Sites

You will visit key giraffe conservation areas in the Amboseli region, visit the Giraffe Center and community conservancies, learn from the Maasai people and other local tribes living at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro and in the Maasai group ranches, and interact with researchers from the Kenyan National Parks system. 

summer session II

04 Weeks

|

04 Credits


Summer 2024

 Jul 8 - Aug 6

Filling Fast


PROGRAM COSTS

Tuition:

$5,555

Room & Board:

$2,395

Total Cost:

$7,950


Sample Itinerary


Sample Itinerary:

APPLY NOW

summer session II PROGRAM

Elephants of the African Savanna

Kimana, Rift Valley, Southern Kenya


The African elephant is a keystone species with a profound influence on the landscape and dynamic in which it coexists with other African wildlife. As the largest (and one of the most charismatic) animal walking our planet, its conservation continues to attract concern within and beyond Africa. Join SFS Faculty and leading elephant scientists to learn about these animals in the elephant conservation strongholds in and around Amboseli National Park. Hear the perspectives of local communities living at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, including their day-to-day interactions with the African elephant.

  • Embark on multi-day camping expedition to Maasai Mara, where you’ll hope to encounter the ‘Big Five’–the African elephant, African buffalo, lion, leopard, and black rhino.
  • On a multi-day camping trip, explore Amboseli National Park – widely regarded as the best place in the world to observe free-ranging elephants.
  • Examine the causes, manifestations, trends, and current state of human-elephant conflicts in the Amboseli Ecosystem and their implications on elephants’ conservation and co-existence with local communities.

Application deadlines:
Summer 2 – May 1
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Academics

This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. Each program combines theory learned during classroom sessions with field-based applications. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Kenya. Read more about the SFS program model. Major academic themes include:

  • Elephant ecology
  • Elephant social behavior, communication, and intelligence
  • Population dynamics and management
  • Conservation strategies and challenges
  • Elephant habitat range and suitability

Courses

On the Elephants of the African Savanna program, you will take one 4-credit course. This course is participatory in nature and is designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, and tests. This course is taught in English. Click on the course to view a description and download the syllabus

SFS 3252
Elephant Ecology and Conservation in Kenya
4 Credits

SFS 3252 Elephant Ecology and Conservation in Kenya (4 Credits)

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is an important keystone species in Africa and has profound influence on the structure and dynamics of landscapes where it co-exists with other species. It’s one of the most charismatic and charming species, but its conservation and population status has continued to attract a lot of concern within and beyond Africa. A key worry is that its conservation is increasingly becoming uncertain across the entire African continent due illegal poaching, landscape fragmentation, and retaliatory attacks by local communities due to prevalence of human-elephant conflicts. In this course students will learn and examine diverse and critical aspects of African elephants in Africa, Kenya, and in the Amboseli and Maasai-mara landscapes. This learning process will be achieved through classroom interactive learning sessions, experiential field activities, class discussions and lectures by Faculty and various guests.  

View Syllabus

Core Skills

You will acquire hands-on skills in the field, including: elephant identification techniques, aging elephant dung, ground counts, behavioral studies, home range assessment using telemetry techniques, mitigation of human-wildlife conflicts, use of Swahili language, ethnophoto-voicing techniques, conducting social surveys (household interviews, focused group discussions and key informant interviews), data synthesis, analysis and interpretation, and scientific writing.

Field Sites

You will visit key elephant conservation areas in the Amboseli region, visit the Kimana Sanctuary and community conservancies, learn from the Maasai people and other local tribes living at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro and in the Maasai group ranches, and interact with researchers from the Amboseli Elephant Research Project.

What Students Are Saying:


 
“This program offers so much more than your typical study abroad program. You get to live in an area of the world that most people only dream of visiting. Surrounding by acacia woodlands, the Kenya field station sits on the northern side of Mount Kilimanjaro. From the outdoor showers, you have a perfect view of the top of Kili!”
 
– Caleb, Boston University


 
“Getting to go on all-day safaris to world- famous parks almost every week was awesome, but even better were the connections I made with people, which I wasn’t expecting. We got to become a part of the community during our stay there; saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do! I also stay in touch with the group I went with; I had never met any of them before boarding the plane, but our incredible shared experiences brought us so close.”
 
– Katie, Colorado State University


 
“There are infinite aspects of Kenya that I will never forget and will miss dearly. The wildlife, nature and overall surroundings were stunning. The spellbinding African stars are indescribably spectacular and are incomparable to anywhere else in the world that I have traveled to. I doubt I will ever be in a classroom with acacia trees with baboons swinging around in them right outside again.”
 
– Ellie, Franklin University (Switzerland)

 

Where You'll Be Living

The Center lies in the heart of Kenya’s Rift Valley, between three world-famous national parks. The snow-capped peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro towers over miles of savanna, replete with a diversity of wildlife. Our sprawling, grassy campus includes thatched bandas (cabins) and a central chumba (main building), just down the road from the small town of Kimana.

  • Dorm living with 4-person bandas
  • Chumba contains classroom, computer lab, and study spaces
  • Kitchen and dining hall, on-site cooking staff
  • Campus offers amazing views of Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • One-mile running trail on campus
  • Volleyball, soccer, Frisbee, and fire pit
Click here to read stories from students, staff, and faculty on our blog

 
 
 

Program Costs

Study abroad is an investment in yourself – you’ll return home with new experiences, skills, knowledge, and friendships that will stay with you for the rest of your life. SFS program costs cover a variety of expenses, including:
 

  • Pre-program advising and on-site orientation
  • Tuition and research fees
  • Housing at the field station and on excursions
  • Daily meals and snacks
  • Airport transfers (for arrival/departure)
  • Field excursions and cultural activities
  • Student success and wellness team on site
  • 24/7 mental health and well-being support
  • Emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance
  • Official transcript processing

View Kenya Program Costs

Financial Aid

We know cost can be one of the biggest barriers to studying abroad. At SFS, we’re committed to making our programs accessible to students which is why we award more than $650,000 in need-based financial aid each year. Our Admissions Team has worked with thousands of students and are here to answer your questions about the SFS aid process, aid available through your home school, and funding from external sources.
 
SFS Financial Aid: Need-based aid packages typically consist of a combination of scholarships, grants, and zero- and low-interest loans. SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.

Home School Aid: Be sure to ask your home school study abroad office or financial aid office what financial aid resources might be available to support your study abroad experience.

External Funding Opportunities: Organizations such as the Fund for Education Abroad or the Gilman International Scholarship Program award scholarships to students going abroad. These can be a great opportunity to reduce the cost of your program even more.
 
Learn More about Financial Aid


 
 
 

 

Research

Research at the SFS Center for Wildlife and Water Studies focuses on the ways in which climate change is impacting the region’s wildlife populations and natural resources. We explore how Kenya’s wildlife, ecosystems, and communities are responding to environmental threats, as we research wildlife management and community-based conservation strategies that can help build a more sustainable future. Students and faculty engage with national park staff, regional conservation experts and wildlife specialists, Maasai and other Indigenous peoples, NGOs, and landowners to gain different perspectives and contribute research data to the community.
 
Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Endangered species conservation
  • Wildlife management
  • Climate change impacts
  • Large mammal & primate behavior
  • Wildlife ecology
  • Community-based conservation approaches
  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Natural resource management approaches
  • Protected areas management

Community

Kimana, Kenya

 
SFS is an active part of the Kimana community, where we have been based for over two decades.

We have built long-term, collaborative relationships in the communities around the Center, and developed our research plans based on the environmental issues they and the surrounding ecosystems face. Throughout the program, students visit local markets and neighboring boma (Maasai homestead), spend the day with a local family, participate in traditional Maasai celebrations, take part in outreach and community service in local schools and villages, and join in local sports.

At the end of each semester program, we host a Community Research Night where select students will present their research findings to the community. SFS research data is shared with the community, national parks and conservation areas, local NGOs, and the Kenyan government.
 

Read stories about our community in Kenya

Meet the Kenya Team

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