Tanzania: Zanzibar—Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

"SIT provides a learning space through which students can directly interact with the local culture, feel empowered to serve the community, and learn dynamically from host institutions. I was astounded by how much more I was able to give through my independent research project after orienting myself through the class sessions. Immersion with a host family was also truly valuable; I was welcomed into the arms of an extended network in Stone Town."

-- Lindley Mease, Stanford University

Examine coastal ecology and natural resource management in one of the most remarkable areas of the world: Zanzibar and the islands of the Western Indian Ocean.

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The region's geographic location and distinct ecological conditions allow students to study specific environmental topics, including tropical forest management and coral reef conservation, in a unique context. Through thematic coursework and direct field experience students are exposed to multiple sources of knowledge in order to better understand the dual imperatives of economic growth and environmental protection.

Once the thriving hub of the East African caravan trade, Zanzibar's abundant natural resources today help promote its important tourism industry. Yet tourism and other industries present serious challenges to the region's fragile ecosystems. In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that the health and long-term viability of the region's coastal forests, coral reefs, and vulnerable fauna, such as indigenous flying foxes and Ader's duikers, will be severely threatened if not managed in a more sustainable way.

On safari

The Tanzania: Zanzibar — Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management program challenges students to reframe notions of sustainability in relation to local population needs, perspectives, and values. Through rigorous thematic coursework and hands-on experiential learning, students consider how natural resource management will benefit future generations in light of the current factors driving environmental degradation. Students learn from close engagement with prominent ecologists, policymakers, and local community members utilizing SIT's exceptional regional networks.

The program is based in Zanzibar's historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on Unguja Island. In Stone Town, students attend lectures at the well-regarded Institute of Marine Sciences, where they work on a range of observation assignments. Excursions to both protected and unprotected areas throughout the Zanzibar Archipelago further highlight the complex dynamics of local ecosystems in relation to resident communities.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research


Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Language Study: Kiswahili

Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, ecology, or biology; swimming or snorkeling ability recommended Read more...

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)


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