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• Must have be a Columbia/Barnard junior in good academic standing.
• Must have completed Environmental Biology I-II or Science for Sustainable Development.
• 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. The following courses are planned for Spring 2014 although final courses will be available in Fall 2013.
EEEB W3920: Biology of African Animals and Ecosystems. 4 points.
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 a diversity of plants, animals, and their interactions. Lectures include core topics in ecology and evolution with emphasis on African animals and ecosystems.
EEEB W3924: Natural History of African Mammals. 4 points.
This course offers an introduction to concepts, methods, and material of comparative natural history, with African mammals as focal organisms. Perspectives include morphology, identification, evolution, ecology, behavior, and conservations. Observations and experiments on a variety of species in different habitats and at a range of scales will provide insights into the adaptive value and underlying mechanistic function of mammalian adaptations. This course will be based in Laikipia, but travel to other sites acrosss Kenya, which might include other conservancies, pastoral group ranches, or Lake Turkana, one of East Africa's most famous sites of hominid evolution.
EEEB W3923: Ecology and Conservation of African Landscapes. 4 points.
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.
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 the required courses, please contact Professor Dustin Rubenstein to determine if you are eligible to apply.