PROGRAM UPDATES AS OF JANUARY 2022: We are pleased to report that we anticipate the Spring 2022 cohort traveling to Tanzania as scheduled. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the program itinerary, excursions, and all details that you find outlined on this page may shift to accommodate enhanced safety measures, park closures, and thoughtful community interaction. Please remain up to date on Covid-19 response in this country, as well as vaccine and booster requirements for this program, here.
Step beyond the tourist experience in East Africa. Explore the iconic landscapes of Tanzania. Meet the country’s charismatic wildlife – from magnificent lions and elephants to thunderous herds of wildebeest and zebras – as you learn about their ecology and behavior. Experience the rich culture and traditions of Tanzania’s Maasai, Iraqw, and Hadzabe tribal communities while collaborating on issues of human-wildlife conflict and climate change. Finish the semester with an in-depth field research project.
Embark on a multi-day camping expedition in Serengeti National Park, attending field lectures on the behavior and migratory patterns of the park’s magnificent wildlife
Learn about elephant and lion ecology in Tarangire National Park and visit Burunge Wildlife Management Area to learn about community-based conservation
All students are welcome to apply for our need-based financial aid. Students who exhibit financial need for their program will be offered SFS financial aid. SFS aid is offered through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.
Pell Grant Match
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.
Many SFS students receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.
Cait was raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Cait joined the SFS team in 2017 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Sociology and Education. During the fall of her junior year, she studied in Florence, Italy. In the heart of Tuscany, she discovered her passion for learning and experiencing through education abroad. Throughout her career, Cait has facilitated a Faculty-Lead Program throughout Ireland and Scotland, served as an International Coordinator for a higher education first year abroad program, and has served in SFS Admissions advising and preparing students for their adventures to the field. Cait loves to share her passion for education abroad with every student she serves, and believes international education is an important part of any student’s undergraduate experience. Cait can’t wait to prepare you for your SFS experience!
Itinerary varies from term to term and is subject to change. Program activities take place 6 days a week with one day free.
Week 1: Welcome to Tanzania! Move into bandas (cabins), meet your roommates and the SFS staff, meet CWMS staff and attend program orientation. Lectures begin with a case study introduction to the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem (TME) and regional wildlife species and the history of land use and wildlife management practices. Field excursion through Manyara National Park to practice wildlife observation techniques and conduct a species ID exercise. Visit the town of Mto wa Mbu and begin Swahili language lessons.
Week 2: Continue Swahili lessons. Workshops on qualitative/quantitative data collection and survey techniques. Lectures on hyena ecology and social structure, reptile ecology and thermal biology, global approaches to conservation policy, and an intro to research ethics. Field exercise to practice vegetation survey methods and techniques for estimating species diversity. Visit the market in Karatu.
Week 3: Lectures on elephant ecology, climate change impacts, and wildlife census techniques. Learn about the traditional livelihoods of the Iraqw tribe and visit nearby communities to observe grassroots natural resource management. Guest lecture on an area giraffe research project. Reptile ID and monitoring field exercise. Continue Swahili lessons. Community activity at a local primary school.
Week 4: 4-day expedition to Tarangire National Park, Manyara Ranch, and Burunge Wildlife Management Area. Field lectures on lion research and conservation, habitat management plans, and conservation models. Field exercises: Observe elephant family groups, conduct large mammal counts, and explore human-wildlife conflict through an impact assessment. Return to the Center. Directed Research (DR) topics introductions and project selection.
Week 5: Visit the Hadzabe, one of Tanzania’s last hunter-gatherer tribes, and learn how environmental degradation is impacting their culture. Spend the day with a local Iraqw family. Create a habitat management plan and learn how to interpret animal census data. Lectures on statistics, scientific writing, and literature review. Work on DR project proposal. Community service activity at a local tree nursery.
Week 6: Lectures on Ngorongoro lion pride dynamics, Serengeti wildebeest ecology and migration patterns, and traditions of the Maasai people. Visit a traditional Maasai boma (homestead). Case study on the tribes living within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. DR project proposals due.
Week 7: 4-day camping trip to the Serengeti. Stop at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area en route to learn about the Ngorongoro wildlife and explore the giant crater. Field lectures focused on predator-prey relationships, cheetah ecology and conservation, and wildlife management challenges. Visit Oldupai Gorge to learn about the earliest traces of human civilization. Return to the Center.
Week 8: Field exercises on birds as climate change indicators, bird species ID, and wildlife counts.
Week 9: Multiday camping trip and lectures on orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation.
Week 10: Two free days in Arusha. Upload data to WWF’s Climate Crowd citizen science project. Final exams for Wildlife Ecology, Techniques in Wildlife Management, and Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values.
Week 11: Lectures on cultural sensitivity and risk management in field research. DR project data collection in the field begins.
Week 12: Full week of DR project data collection in the field.
Week 13: Data analysis: organize, analyze, and write up your results in a scientific paper. Optional afternoon activity: visit Karatu and Mto wa Mbu markets, hike to elephant caves, or take a batik and knife painting class. Community service activity at the Rhotia community library.
Week 14: DR final papers due. Create a presentation and poster based on your research. Present to students, staff, and community members at a research symposium.
Week 15: Re-entry exercises and room cleanup. Closing activities. Head home.
This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Tanzania. Read more about the SFS program model.
Major academic themes include:
Climate change impacts
African large mammal behavior and ecology
Reptile ecology and conservation
On the Wildlife Management Studies 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 the syllabus
SFS 2060 Introduction to Swahili Language and East African Culture - Tanzania (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. Much of the Maasai population does not speak Swahili, but it is the national language in Tanzania; this phenomenon will be explained in the second course module. The sociocultural aspects of Tanzanian tribes module emphasizes 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.
SFS 3020 Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values - Tanzania (4 credits)
This course provides insight into the broad social context surrounding natural resources to determine effective approaches to resource management. Students explore the sociocultural context of resource management including: hierarchies and power structures; formal and informal decision-making processes; value systems relevant to natural resources, including religious factors and environmental ethics; past and present uses of natural resources; economic factors (local, regional, external); ownership patterns; attitudes and other factors that effect change and their historical basis; and legal basis for enforcement of environmental policy. Students are also introduced to major constituencies that effect conservation (NGO conservation groups, economic interests, etc.) and their underlying philosophies.
SFS 3710 Techniques in Wildlife Management (4 credits)
This course introduces students to the questions, principles, and tools used by resource managers in Tanzania’s savanna ecosystem. Students study habitat assessment, plant and animal identification, associations and distributions, and other approaches to evaluating ecosystems. Students examine the behavioral, physiological, and social responses of animals to a changing environment. The course introduces field and laboratory techniques for monitoring ungulate populations and optimizing management practices, as well as addressing decision-making processes on which wildlife management programs are based.
This course presents students with the information and conceptual background necessary to understand the underlying ecological principles of Tanzania’s savanna ecosystem. We focus on the fundamental processes and interrelationships between the biotic and abiotic environment. We begin with basic ecological principles, setting them against the background of Tanzania. Students examine the factors underlying distributions, population biology, and behavioral ecology, along with competition and predation, using African examples. Students discuss theoretical models of different basic ecological principles and then debate their applicability or constraints based on observations made in the field.
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.
You will gain practical skills in the field such as: GIS use and applications, habitat and biodiversity assessment, natural resource valuation, species identification and wildlife census techniques, animal behavior observation skills, radio telemetry, bird species identification, basic Swahili language skills, research design and implementation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and research presentation.
You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include national parks and wildlife management areas, the plains of the Serengeti, rural villages, Indigenous Iraqw, Hadzabe, and Maasai communities, freshwater wetlands around Lake Manyara, wildlife migratory corridors, the volcanic caldera of Ngorongoro, ranches and farms, and Olduvai Gorge – one of the most important paleo-anthropological sites in the world.
In the Directed Research course, each student completes a field research project under the mentorship of a faculty member – beginning with data collection and analysis and concluding with a research paper and presentation. Project subject areas span ecology, natural resource management, conservation science, environmental ethics, and socioeconomics.
Learn to live the pole pole lifestyle at SFS’ Moyo Hill Camp. Surrounded by Tanzania’s world-famous national parks and wildlife, it’s the perfect base camp for expeditions into the field. Campus is reminiscent of summer camp, with plenty of outdoor and communal spaces, while the small, friendly community of Rhotia is a short walk away.
Dorm living in 4-person bandas (cabins)
Classroom, library, and computer lab
Kitchen and dining hall, and on-site cooking staff
Volleyball, gazebo, fire pit, and lounge areas
Community soccer games and local running routes
Fleet of safari cruisers
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