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Tanzania: Ecology and Anthropology (Carleton Global Engagement)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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The Carleton Global Engagement Ecology and Anthropology in Tanzania program offers undergraduates an unusual opportunity to conduct field work in some of the world’s greatest paleoanthropological and ecological sites. Students study and conduct research out of their study center base in the Northern Region of Tanzania.

Ecology and Anthropology in Tanzania combines field research with cultural immersion in East Africa and is designed to help students learn about the centrality, the methods, and the rewards of field work in both the social and natural sciences. Over the course of the program, students will live with local host families in the Usa River community near Arusha and take classes in ecology, cultural anthropology, and Swahili. Excursions and field trips to sites such as local Maasai villages and national parks (Serengeti, Tarangire, and Mount Kilimanjaro) provide unique opportunities to learn about and interact with the people, wildlife and landscape of Northern Tanzania. The culmination of the program is research conducted under the guidance of regional experts, with the goal of serving student scholarship and contributing to a larger community benefit in Tanzania.

Program Objectives

  • Deepen your knowledge of ecological, cultural anthropology, and behavioral issues through extensive field inquiry at unique sites, firsthand experience, and coursework.
  • Develop your understanding of Tanzanian society, and cross-cultural literacy through cultural immersion.
  • Develop a working knowledge of Swahili language sufficient to speak with local people and read newspapers and other materials.
  • Apply research knowledge to an on-going research project under the guidance of local experts.

Program Location and Living Arrangements

For most of the program, students live in homestays in the community of Usa River, a 30-minute drive from Arusha which serves as the starting point for treks to Mt. Kilimanjaro and safaris in Northern Tanzania. You will live with a local host family along with another Global Engagement student, providing you the opportunity to work on your Swahili and immerse yourself in Tanzanian culture and customs. Classes will take place at the  MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation (TCDC), a development management training institution which students will share with people from all over the world.

Program Travel and Excursions

There will be multiple field trips and excursions in northern Tanzania, including a safari through Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater where students will see the wildlife that call Tanzania home and visit landmark ecological and paleoanthropological site. These include Laetoli which contains ancient footprints preserved in volcanic sediment and Olduvai Gorge, the famous spot where archaeologists discovered fossilized remains of early humans, including skulls and stone tools. There will also be several overnight visits to Engikaret, a village north of Arusha, to expose students to Maasai culture. Students will stay in the cultural "boma" settlements and contribute to ongoing projects in the community. While in the field, students and staff will stay in mobile campsites.

Recommended preparation includes coursework in biology (including ecology) and anthropology (including human evolution). Coursework that addresses African history and culture is also useful.
Credit: 4.5.
Period: Fall semester.
Program advisors: Professors Jim Mountjoy and Jennifer Templeton.

Learn more about the Carleton Ecology and Anthropology in Tanzania program.

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

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022