East Africa

Program Snapshot
Semester: Fall
Offered: Fall 2024
Estimated Dates: Late August to early December
Program Focus: Regional Area Study
Prerequisites: GPA of 2.75 or higher is expected. Students must satisfy the Words and Numbers CORE requirement before participating in an overseas program.                 
Housing: Varies throughout the program
Campus Contact: Ken Clifton
Professor of Biology
clifton@lclark.edu, 503-768-7508

Program Design

In cooperation with Dorobo Safaris, Lewis & Clark College offers a program of study focused on the history, socio-economic institutions, culture, natural history, and ecology of East Africa. Every three years this program is conducted concurrently with the East Africa: Biology program. Over the course of the semester, the group travels to different parts of northeastern Tanzania to study Swahili language, contemporary issues in urban and coastal East Africa, and human and animal ecology in coastal and Serengeti ecosystems. A defining characteristic of this program is its mobility; accommodations during the semester include three homestays with families in both rural and urban settings, camping in tents, and staying in remote lodges and small hotels. The program includes an independent research component, giving students the opportunity to conduct field research and develop a project focused on development issues.

Itinerary Overview: This program takes place in the northeast regions of Tanzania, in East Africa. During the first week of the program, students are based in the village of Olasiti, on the outskirts of the city of Arusha. Here, students receive a general orientation to the program, along with Swahili instruction (FL 101) and lectures on culture and history (IS 210). Instruction in these topics continues as the program moves on successive weeks to Magi ya Chai, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Mambo View, a village in the western Usambara mountain chain. From there, the itinerary shifts to coastal Tanzania, with visits to Tanga and the island of Zanzibar. While on Zanzibar, students continue their Swahili language instruction and learn about coastal Swahili culture and history. After Zanzibar, students move to the coast of Tanzania at Pembe Abwe Beach studying coastal ecology (Bio 115). About halfway through the program, the group returns to Arusha prior to spending several weeks on safari for continued biology and cultural studies. This includes cultural immersion with groups of Hadzabe, Iraqw, and Maasai, including the chance to stay with a Maasai family in a traditional boma. The final weeks of the program are spent conducting independent research projects on issues of development (IS 211).

Onsite Staff: This program is supported by an excellent team of Tanzanian residents who oversee curriculum and logistics throughout the semester. They have worked with Lewis & Clark programs for nearly 20 years to build a curriculum specifically designed for our students. With diverse backgrounds and decades of in-country experience, they offer a remarkable opportunity to explore a variety of habitats, people, and contemporary issues across the breadth of northern Tanzania.


Requirements Fulfilled:

GE prior to Fall 2020 - This program fulfills the 8-credit International Studies general education requirement for students who successfully complete 12 or more semester credits. BIO 115 fulfills the Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning Category A general education requirement (may not be applied to the Biology major).

GE Fall 2020 and later - IS 210 fulfills the Global Perspectives, the Culture, Power and Identity, or the Historical Perspectives general education requirement for students who successfully complete 8 or more semester credits. IS 211 fulfills the Global Perspectives or the Culture, Power and Identity general education requirement. BIO 115 fulfills the Natural Sciences requirement (may not be applied to the Biology major).

Credits: 16 credits (4 courses)


IS 210: Area Studies, East Africa: History, Culture, and Change (4 credits)

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 211: Contemporary East Africa (4 credits)

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 (4 credits)

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 (4 credits)

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.

Student Life

Housing: Accommodations vary throughout the program depending on location. Students have the opportunity to stay with local families in the West Usambara Mountains at Mambo View, with Maasai families in traditional bombas, and with families in Olasiti at the end of the program. Students spend a significant portion of the program camping in tents in the Amami Forest and in various national parks during safari. The group also occasionally stays in lodges and small hotels.


2021-2022 Fee Breakdown*

Total Fee (includes Tuition, Program Fee, and Health & Wellness Fee): $36,259

Tuition: $28,485

Program Fee: $7,737

Health & Wellness Fee: $37**

Included in the program fee are room/housing, board/meals, and administrative fees. Not included are airfare, passport and visa expenses, primary insurance coverage, photographs, books, immunizations, and incidentals.  *Fees are updated every February for the following academic year.

**The Health & Wellness Fee supports the operations of Wellness Services staff in delivering pre-program orientation services, as well as in providing health-related consultation regarding participant health needs. All students in the College of Arts and Sciences pay a mandatory fee of $37 per semester.

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend to cover the cost of meals and transportation costs not covered by the program fee.

Estimated Airfare (Round Trip PDX to JRO): $1,500 - $2,500

Estimated Travel Document Fees: $175 - $225

Estimated Health Insurance Fee: $1,350.50

All students participating in overseas programs are automatically enrolled in iNext, a supplemental travel insurance program. The fee for iNext is covered in the program cost. However, students are also required to have comprehensive health insurance during their time abroad. All students participating in overseas programs, both abroad and domestic, are automatically enrolled in the College’s student health insurance program. Similar to a regular semester on-campus, students participating in overseas programs may waive enrollment in the student health insurance program if they have other comprehensive health insurance (e.g., through a parent, guardian or employer) that 1) provides coverage for them in the geographic region in which they will be studying and 2) includes mental health benefits. Click here for more information regarding health insurance & overseas programs.

Program Preparation

Application Process: Applications are due one year before the start of the program. The semester before the program, students who have been accepted will meet regularly for orientation. This orientation is meant to prepare the students for life in Tanzania by exploring literature and culture, and provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the logistical details of the program.

For more information about the application process, click here.

Travel: Students usually fly into Kilimanjaro airport (JRO), where they are met by onsite program staff.

Visa: Students will be required to apply for a visa in order to participate in this program. More information will be provided upon admission to the program.

Country-Specific Health Information: Click here to view specific health information for people traveling to Tanzania.

State Department Country Information: Click here to visit the State Department’s Tanzania page.

Blog Posts

  • Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

    Mambo from Mambo View! We are high up in the gorgeous Usambara mountains more than a 10 hour drive east from our last location, Maji ya Chai. This week was a mix of homestays in nearby villages and classes at the Mambo View Lodge which rests on a ...
  • Scorpions and dolphins and fish, oh my!

    It’s been a while since I last wrote, and this will be the last you’ll hear from me for three weeks! In two days we leave on safari, and there will be no internet, no beds, and very limited water access. I’m super excited! Besides lots of ani...