There is a current US Travel Warning to this Country.
• Must have be a Columbia/Barnard junior in good academic standing.
• Must have completed Environmental Biology I-II or the equivalent.
• Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.
In partnership with Princeton University, Columbia has developed a new field semester abroad program in Kenya on Tropical Biology and Sustainability. Operating during the spring semester, this global immersion experience will give students the opportunity to study ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, environmental engineering, and sustainable development in the environmental hub of East Africa. Based at Princeton’s Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya, and with support from Columbia’s Global Center Africa in Nairobi, students will also travel across Kenya to places such as the forested slopes of Mt. Kenya, the wildlife-rich savannas of Laikipia, and the coffee and tea plantations of western Kenya. Students will take four 3-week course modules taught by Princeton and Columbia faculty who work in Kenya and other parts of East Africa.
The program is based at the Mpala Research Centre (MRC) which lies in central Kenya, 45 kilometers from the base of Mt. Kenya in the Laikipia district near the town of Nanyuki, roughly 4 hours from Nairobi. It is a large property of almost 50,000 acres. MRC has extensive research facilities and labs used by resident and visiting researchers, along with the full infrastructure needed to support a large research and visiting scientist community in a remote location. Trustee institutions of MRC include Princeton University, the University of Michigan, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kenya Wildlife Service, and the National Museums of Kenya.
Laikipia district is home to many large scale cattle farms. Wildlife and cattle mix peacefully, and now that many ranches have been converted to game reserves, all wildlife is thriving in the area, including many endangered species like wild dogs and rhino.
The academic program is comprised of four sequential modules. Students must complete all four modules in order to receive credit for the program.
EEEB W3920: Biology of African Animals and Ecosystems. 4 points. Dustin Rubenstein.
Students will spend their time in Kenya immersed in an intensive field experience studying ecology, evolution, and behavior in one of the world’s most biologically spectacular settings. In addition to gaining sophisticated training in fieldwork, hypothesis-driven biological research, and scientific writing and presentation, the course gives participants many opportunities to observe and study organisms ranging from acacia ants to giraffes, go-away-birds to zebras. Lectures include core topics in ecology and evolution with emphasis on African animals and ecosystems.
EEEB W3922: Field Ecohydrology. 4 points. Kelly Caylor.
This course will provide an introduction to the principles of hydrological sciences and their application to ecology, with a focus on instrumentation methods for characterizing surface, subsurface, and biological hydrological dynamics in field settings. Lectures and field activities will address the theories of operation, design, and implementation of methods used to quantify hydrological patterns and processes with emphasis on characterizing the biological signature and ecological impact of landscape hydrological dynamics. Emphasis will be placed on applications of hydrological science to issues of sustainable landscape use, water resource conservation, and prevention/reversal of land degradation in dryland ecosystems.
EEEB W3923: Ecology and Conservation of African Landscapes. 4 points. Corinna Riginos and Paula Kahumbu.
Only six percent of Africa's land is protected, and these areas are rarely large enough to sustain wildlife populations. Mostly, wildlife must share land with people who also face survival challenges. This course will explore how wildlife and people interact in Kenya, where new approaches to conservation are being developed and implemented. Lectures will cover the ecology of tropical grasslands and first principles underlying conservation and management of these landscapes. Field trips and projects will examine the dynamics between human actions and biodiversity conservation.
EEEB W3921: Tropical Agriculture. 4 points. Cheryl Palm.
Students will compare productivity, diversity, and ecological processes in the diverse farming systems of Kenya, which include highland and lowland, large and small-scale systems, monoculture cereal crops, mixed farming with crops and livestock, pastoral systems, diverse tree crop systems from plantations to multispecies agroforests, and intensive horticulture. Students spend their time in Kenya learning state of the art techniques for characterizing soils, agricultural landscapes, and ecosystem services. They will use these methods across the range of farming systems to develop projects comparing various aspects of these systems, and explore sustainability issues from the ecological, agricultural, and livelihood disciplines.
Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.
For more information about the academic program or if you have not completed Environmental Biology I-II, please contact Professor Dustin Rubenstein to determine if you are eligible to apply.