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Kenya: Wildlife & People in Integrated Landscapes

Join conservationists, educators, community leaders, and youth to study sustainable approaches to human wildlife coexistence.

Course Overview

The South Rift Valley of Kenya, stretching from the Maasai Mara National Reserve through Amboseli National Park, is one of the most spectacular wildlife areas on the planet. Earth Expeditions has partnered with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the African Conservation Centre, and the South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) to advance community-based conservation in this dynamic landscape. This effort builds on the decades-long research of Dr. David Western, former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, and the centuries-long research of the Maasai pastoralists, who have long co-existed with wildlife in an open grassland ecosystem populated by elephants, lions, giraffes, zebra, wildebeests, and a remarkable diversity of other species. With the rise of nontraditional lifestyles, private ranches, and fenced lands that prevent needed wildlife migrations, communities of the South Rift have recognized the need to understand the impact of these changes and to work together for a better future.

Join Kenyan conservationists, educators, community leaders, and youth to study sustainable approaches to human-wildlife coexistence. Possible research projects may focus on high-impact species, such as lions or elephants; species groups (such as grazers); the role of the Maasai in the ecosystem; grassland diversity studies; conservation in parks and beyond; and participatory education and local knowledge.

Prior to and following the field experience in Kenya, students will complete coursework via Dragonfly Workshops’ web-based learning community as they apply experiences to their home institutions.

Course Details
In-person travel dates:

TBD (Early July)

Students arrive at least one day before and depart on last day of course. We strongly suggest allowing ample travel time en route to Nairobi.
On the Web: Pre-travel preparations prior to May 15, 2023
Summer course: July 1-9, 2023
Fall course: Late August- early December, 2023
Credits: Summer course: 5 graduate credits

Follow-on Fall course: 2 graduate credits

All Miami University credits can be applied to the GFP or AIP (or other programs if approved)
Costs: Summer course: $3,225* + your own airfare to Nairobi, Kenya + $1,000 additional transportation fee

Fall course: $790
* $3225 calculated as = $395 per credit tuition X 5 graduate credits + $1075 program fee + $175 Miami global fee

Course Themes

  • Introduction to the ecology of East African savannah ecosystems
  • Inquiry-driven learning
  • Community-based conservation and participatory education
  • Models of conservation: national parks and community-owned conservancies
  • Field method techniques

A typical day is likely to include:

  • Study at field conservation sites
  • Lectures
  • Student-led discussions of key course topics
  • Guided nature walks
  • Engagement with local communities
  • Open inquiries
  • Journal writing
Drew Heyward on an Earth Expeditions trip to Kenya

Kenya

Located in East Africa, Kenya is world renowned for its remarkable wildlife and cultural diversity.

Dragonfly Workshops Web-Based Learning Community

Upon acceptance into the program, students will join instructors and classmates in Dragonfly Workshops’ collaborative web community to complete pre-trip assignments. After returning home, students will continue to work in their web-based community through early December to develop projects initiated in the field, discuss assignments, and exchange ideas. All students should expect to spend two to three hours a week contributing to their web-based learning community from their home or school computer. Navigating the web platform is easy–it’s designed for people with no prior computer experience. To learn more about this unique web experience, visit dragonflyworkshops.miamioh.edu.

Planned Sites

Google Earth maps of Kenya with three locations marked. A second image shows the marked locations zoomed in and labeled Nairobi, Lale'enok Resource Centre, and Amboseli National Park

Nairobi

Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is headquarters for the African Conservation Centre (ACC), an African organization dedicated to saving wildlife through local initiatives, good governance, and sound science.

Amboseli National Park

Beneath the snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro towering to the south, Amboseli National Park covers 392 square kilometers. The park’s wetlands, plains, woodlands and bush country support a diversity of wildlife unrivalled in East Africa for a park of its size. Over 80 different mammals and 400 bird species reside in the park. Elephants play a key role in the changing ecosystem and their populations have been the subject of long-term research projects on the secrets of elephant family life, communication, and migration patterns. Long before the park boundaries were set, the local Maasai were custodians of Amboseli’s wildlife; Maasai do not ordinarily kill wild animals for food as their domestic cattle and goats meet nearly all their requirements.

Lale’enok Resource Centre

The communally-owned land between the boundaries of Amboseli National Park in the south and the Maasai Mara in the west is a vital wildlife dispersal area; in fact, this land, owned primarily by the Maasai, supports a greater diversity of wildlife than the national parks. The African Conservation Centre and the South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) have established a unique community-based research center in Olkiramatian, the heart of the South Rift ecosystem. This area teems with wildlife and lies outside tourist-dominated park environments. Situated on Maasai communal land, the Lale’enok Resource Centre is designed to advance new approaches to understanding integrated landscapes through local initiatives and shared objectives for conservation and education. Unusual in Maasai land, the centre is owned by women, the Olkiramatian Reto Women’s Group. The Centre also functions as a social enterprise, earning revenue from visitors and students who come to Lale’enok to learn about Maasai culture, land management, and conservation practices.

(Course locations are subject to change.)

2023 Costs Include:

In addition to covering the price for five graduate credits of Miami University tuition, field course costs cover all basic expenses, including:

  • Meals (incidental snacks and drinks not included)
  • Lodging
  • Field station fees
  • Course activities (optional activities are not included)
  • Ground transportation (van, boat, train, etc., as needed)
  • Park entrance and guide fees

*NOTE: The Kenya course carries a required extra charge to cover additional course support costs.

Course costs do not cover personal expenses, such as airfare to the course, personal gifts, or ancillary costs, such as passport fees, country entry fees, required course readers, and any additional course texts.

Airfare: To estimate fares applicants may wish to visit an online fare finder or call a travel agent. Bear in mind that airlines have seasonal fluctuations in fares.

Miami University also requires all international workshop participants to purchase travel health insurance for about $40. (Successful applicants will receive more details in their web-based learning community course workshop.) In some classes an additional textbook is required. In some countries, you may have to pay entrance and departure taxes/fees at the airport.

 

Because of support from Miami University, the course costs listed above are a fraction of actual program costs. Earth Expeditions recommends that accepted applicants to the program check with their school district or employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs.

We offer some further ideas on Helping to Fund your Degree and Scholarships for Current Dragonfly Students

U.S. Students and Students Living Abroad

To support involvement by a broad range of professionals nationally and globally, Miami University discounts tuition for participants accepted to an Earth Expeditions graduate course. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and hold bachelor’s degrees. Upon successful completion of both the field and Web-based components of the Earth Expeditions course, participants earn seven graduate credit hours.

Students Seeking Undergraduate Credit

Undergraduate students at Miami University or elsewhere may apply for an Earth Expeditions course and earn five credits for the field component, with the option to complete two additional credits for the fall Web component. Normal Miami tuition rates apply, as do eligible summer tuition waivers and scholarships. Contact Project Dragonfly for more information.

Course Options for Miami Students

Are you a current Miami University undergrad or grad student interested in participating? Check out our Miami Students page to learn more about program requirements.

*Note that costs shown above are for graduate students only. Course costs for undergraduate students are based on each student’s tuition rate. If you have questions regarding your tuition promise rate, please contact the Bursar.

Questions?

Do you have questions? Go to our Frequently Asked Questions page for some answers.
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