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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

East Africa




Late August to early December
Offered: Annually
Program Focus: Country Study


GPA of 2.75 or higher is expected.                                                                              
Fall 2018
Program Leader:

Elizabeth Bennett 

Assistant Professor of International Affairs




Program Design:

This program focuses on the history, socio-economic institutions, culture, natural history, and ecology of East Africa. Every three years it is conducted concurrently with the Biology Focus program. The itinerary includes intensive Swahili language training, study of contemporary issues in urban and coastal East Africa, and the study of human and animal ecology in coastal and Serengeti ecosystems. Accommodations include urban home-stays, tents, small hotels, and Maasai bomas.

Read about what the East Africa Program Students are doing right now!

Requirements Fulfilled:
IS 240 and 241 will fulfill the two-course International Studies requirement. Bio 115 fulfills the scientific & quantitative reasoning category A (laboratory)  requirement.

4 courses per semester/16 credits

IS 240: Area Studies, East Africa: History, Culture, and Change

East Africa is a region of extraordinary ethnic, cultural, and biological diversity.

This course begins with the earliest inhabitants and examines the movements and settlement patterns of various peoples of the region. Special attention is given to the impact of overseas influences during the last millennium, particularly those of the Arab-Muslim world during initial contact, and those of the Western-Christian world during the colonial period. The course also considers the rise of African nationalism, the end of colonial rule, and the ongoing effects of modernization and globalization in a developing country.

IS 241: Contemporary East Africa
This course focuses on a wide variety of contemporary issues in East Africa, including population growth, health care, education, political structure and institutions, gender roles, land use, environmental health, geography, urbanization, art, and literature. As part of the coursework, students will complete an independent study project on a topic of their choice, which they will work on for the duration of the program. Both written and oral presentations will be made during the final week of the program.

BIO 115:  Explorations in Regional Biology, East Africa
With an itinerary that takes students from coral reefs to the Serengeti, this course exposes students to a remarkable diversity of biological communities.  Lectures by local experts and extended field trips explore the adaptations of local plant and animal species and their ecological role within the larger community. Bolstered with knowledge of life history and behavior, students also examine human cultural adaptations within the same environment and consider the role of historical and modern human impacts.  Discussions of the sustainability of human activities in the context of exploitation and economic development are included, with a focus on how this impacts the regional biota. Student journals, exams, and field exercises are used to assess the degree to which students are able to document and analyze information gained in a variety of field excursions into natural settings.

FL 101: Swahili Language Instruction

Relationship to On-Campus Curriculum:
The East Africa program is especially relevant to students in biology and environmental studies, particularly those with interests in tropical field biology, coral reefs and savanna ecology. By offering a comparative perspective on democratic political institutions, international relations, gender roles, etc, the program is also attractive to students from a number of other major programs, including Sociology/Anthropology, Political Science, International Affairs, Economics, Communications, and Psychology. 

Irrespective of their major course of study, students may also relate their education abroad to various on-campus activities including regularly offered courses, self-directed independent study or practicum, and cultural celebrations such as the International Fair.  Relevant courses include various International Affairs and Sociology/Anthropology offerings (e.g., IA 230 African Politics; SOAN 275, Africa in Social and Cultural Perspective; SOAN 352 Women in Developing Countries; SOAN 355 African Migration and Diaspora) as well as courses in Music, Art, etc.

East Africa

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