Develop insight into the delicate balance between socioeconomic goals and ecological concerns in the vast wilderness expanses of Tanzania. Home to Serengeti National Park--the site of the largest wildlife migration on earth--Tanzania features tropical, temperate, and alpine forests. Ngorongoro Crater, a 12-mile-wide extinct volcano, is one of the wonders of the natural world. Within these disparate ecosystems, issues of population growth, land use, and tourism development are in tense juxtaposition with wildlife conservation efforts.
From the program base in the heart of Tanzania's most renowned wilderness parks, students explore the country's diverse human and natural environments through seminars and field visits to nature reserves and conservation areas. Swahili language study and a rural stay with a Maasai community complement classroom work and field research.
Tanzania is a beautiful and diverse country that includes the Serengeti Plains, the snows of Kilimanjaro, and the islands of Zanzibar. Within the Serengeti ecosystem (approximately 25,000 square km) is Olduvai Gorge, the site of the famous discoveries by the Leakeys' of pre- Homo sapien fossils. The Serengeti also contains the immense Ngorongoro Crater, a 20-mile-wide volcanic crater, home to a large and diverse population of wildlife. In addition to the diversity of wildlife, there is also diversity among the people with more than 120 ethnic groups, mostly of Bantu origin, each with its own language. From an economic perspective, Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, by GDP per capita based on PPP (Purchasing Parity Power).
Scale and Location
Two key watchwords for this program are "scale" and "location." Students consider a few essential questions throughout the semester, watching to see how changes in scale and location affect the answers to questions. To fully appreciate the diversity and complexity of this region, students move around the country quite a bit and explore the variety of natural habitats. Excursions are chosen specifically to provide a variety of locations and scale.
Not Just Science
In this interdisciplinary program, students realize that ecosystems are inseparable from the human ecology of the region, that issues related to development and human population growth inevitably affect the natural habitat and vice versa. Through the Field Study Seminar and other field work, students learn to integrate their scientific learning with the social sciences, creating a more complete, realistic picture of questions of ecology and conservation.
The Program has three major in-country partners: the Sokoine University of Agriculture, the Klub Afriko Cultural Orientation Center, and the host communities. These partners are instrumental in the success of the program, and many students have returned to work with the program's partners in future endeavors.