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 and the African Conservation Centre 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 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 Earth Expeditions day in Kenya 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

Kenya

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

"Not only did Earth Expeditions Kenya help me to open my heart and mind to new cultures, people, languages, and food, but it helped me to learn more about being a truly global citizen caring for the brothers and sisters around the beautiful Earth on which we live. "

- Mary Carroll A., Charlotte, NC

Planned Sites in Kenya

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.

Olkiramatian Research Center

The communally-owned land between the boundaries of Ambesoli National Park in the south and 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. We will work with the African Conservation Centre and the South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) to create a unique community-based Research Center in Olkiramatian, the heart of the South Rift ecosystem. This area teems with wildlife and lies outside the tourist-dominated park environments. Situated on Maasai communal land, the new Research Center is designed to advance new approaches to understanding integrated landscapes through local initiatives and shared objectives for conservation and education.

(Course locations are subject to change.)

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.org.

More Information

For more information on the admissions process, physical requirements, and more, please visit Admissions and/or FAQs.

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Course Details

Program Costs