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Kenya: Water, Wildlife and Community (SFS)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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In the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, Kenya’s grassy savannas, Rift Valley lakes, and mountain highlands provide habitats for an astounding diversity of flora and fauna including the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos. The region is also home to pastoralist tribal communities such as the Maasai, and its famed national parks attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Kenya’s biodiversity is under threat from ecosystem fragmentation and human development, and shifting human demographics, land-use designations, and natural resource availability are putting a strain on traditional livelihoods. SFS research here focuses on one of Earth’s most essential natural resources – water – as we examine the impacts of these threats and explore conservation approaches to water management that will benefit humans and wildlife alike.

Sustainable development, climate change adaptation, and the survival of life itself all depend on one thing – water. Spend your semester in the national parks and communities of Kenya, studying one of Earth’s most vital resources. In the heart of the Great Rift Valley, heightening changes in water availability have cascading effects on Kenya’s spectacular ecosystems and those living in them. You’ll head out into the field to study the root causes of these changes and how increased resource competition impacts wildlife behavior and human livelihoods. The semester culminates in an extensive field research project in the country’s world-famous parks and reserves.

  • Explore Amboseli National Park, known as the best place in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants
  • Embark on a two-week excursion to northern Tanzania, including expeditions to Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Visit the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, a protected habitat for the critically endangered black rhinoceros

The Center for Water and Wildlife Studies  lies in the heart of Kenya’s Rift Valley, nestled between three world-famous national parks. The snow-capped peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro towers over miles of savanna, replete with a diversity of wildlife. Campus is a sprawling, grassy compound made up of traditional thatched bandas (cabins) and a central chumba (main building), not far from the friendly village of Kimana.

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 Kenya.

Major academic themes include:

  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Water quality and use
  • Wildlife habitats and behaviors
  • Climate change resilience
  • Conservation strategies
  • Community governance of protected areas
  • National park management

On the Water, Wildlife, and Community 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.

Learn more about the Kenya: Water, Wildlife and Community (SFS) program.

Credit:  4.5 for the fall or spring semester

Advisors: Professors Katherine Adelsberger, Jennifer Templeton and Jim Mountjoy

Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022