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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

East Africa Biology




Late August to early December
Offered: Fall 2019 (every 3 years)
Program Focus: General Culture with a Biology emphasis and
Internship experience.


BIO 141 and BIO 151. GPA of 3.0 or higher is expected.                                                
Fall 2019
Program Leader:

Kenneth Clifton
Professor of Biology
ext. 7508

Program Design:

This program is intended for biology majors and is conducted concurrently with the General Culture program. In addition to the study of regional history, culture, and contemporary issues in East Africa (IS coursework), the curriculum focuses on the diversity and ecology of tropical organisms in both marine and terrestrial habitats. Language study, human/wildlife issues, and independent projects supplement the curriculum. Accommodations include urban home-stays, tents, small hotels, and Maasai bomas.

Requirements Fulfilled:
IS 240 and 241 will fulfill the two-course International Studies requirement. Biology 490 is applicable to the Biology major (i.e. two biology courses, with one counting as a laboratory course).

4 courses / 16 credits


IS 240: Area Studies, East Africa: History, Culture, and Change
East Africa is a region of extraordinary ethnic, cultural, and biological diversity. Beginning with the dawn of humanity, this course 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 and the end of colonial rule.

IS 241: Contemporary East Africa
This course focuses on a wide variety of contemporary issues relating to development in East Africa, including population growth, health care, education, political structure and institution, gender roles, land use, environmental health, geography, urbanization, literature, and art. A unit on Swahili language instruction is included. Coursework includes short papers, group discussions, reflective writing, exams and oral presentations.

BIO 211: Land Vertebrates: Studies of Terrestrial Vertebrate Diversity
This course examines the ecological and evolutionary processes that promote and maintain patterns of form, function, and behavior of fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Lectures, discussions, and readings of original literature will combine with field/lab exercises that explore regional patterns of diversity in natural settings.

BIO 490: Special Topics: Behavior and Ecology of Tropical Marine and Terrestrial Organisms
Advanced study of behavior and ecology within two tropical habitats: Coral reefs and Savannah. Lectures and discussions will focus on the underlying ecological processes that generate community level pattern in these habitats.  Field observations will explore the behavioral mechanisms that contribute to co-existence and stability within two very different habitats. Students are expected to develop and implement relevant independent study projects.

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, Communications, Economics, 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.

Program Design



East Africa

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