J. Richard Walz, PhD

Dr. J. Richard Walz is chair of the Climate Change and Global Sustainability MA program at SIT Graduate Institute and academic director of the SIT Study Abroad Tanzania programs. He teaches environmental social science and methodology courses that integrate field studies primarily located in eastern Africa. His research and publications emphasize contemporary and historical topics at the human-environment interface, especially how communities forge social mosaics around resources and how they perceive and utilize landscapes and seascapes in an era of environmental change. His teaching and publications incorporate community-based research and promote independent student field studies on climate, resources, and society where Africa meets the Indian Ocean. He oversees the Zanzibar office and programs or excursions to Pemba and Mafia islands in Tanzania and to Seychelles.

See Dr. Walz’s full list of publications

Graduate Courses Taught

Climate Change and Global Sustainability Capstone
Natural Resource Management in East Africa
Climate Change on Tropical Coasts: Social and Environmental Methods

Select Publications

Walz, J. & Kwekason, A. (2022). Ceramics, copal, and coconut: results of archaeological investigations at Mlongo, Mafia Island, Tanzania, AD 250-1000. South African Archaeological Bulletin, 77(216), 67-75.

Edwards, G., Gellert, P. Faruque, O., Hochstetler, K., McElwee, P., Kashwan, P., McKie, R., Milani, C., Roberts, T. & Walz, J. (2022). Climate obstruction in the Global South: future research trajectories. PLOS Climate, 2(7): e0000241.

Walz, J. (2021). The great guano rush of 2007-2008: ‘filth’, bats, and food sovereignty on northern Pemba Island, Tanzania. Arcadia: Explorations in environmental history (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität), 31, online

Walz, J. & Gooding, P. (2021). Reality and representation of eastern Africa’s past: history and archaeology redress the ‘coast-inland dichotomy’. African Studies Quarterly, 20(4), 56-85 

Myers, G., Walz, J., & Jumbe, A. (2020). Trends in urban planning, climate adaptation and resilience in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Town and Regional Planning, 77, 57-70

Douglass, K., Walz, J., Quintana-Morales, E., et al. (2019). Historical perspectives on contemporary human-environment dynamics in Southeast Africa. Conservation Biology, 33(2), 260-274 

Kusimba, C. & Walz, J. (2018). When did the Swahili become maritime?: A reply to the resurgence of maritime myopia in the archaeology of the East African coast. American Anthropologist, 120(3), 429-443 

Walz, J. (2017). Inland connectivity in ancient Tanzania. Islamic Africa, 8, 217-227

Walz, J. (2017). Toward an ethnoarchaeomalacology of Achatina in East Africa. Ethnobiology Letters, 8(1), 90-96 

Walz, J. (2015). Zigua medicine, between mountains and ocean: people, peformances, and objects in healing motion. In A. Winterbottom & F. Tesfaye (Eds.), Histories of Medicine and Healing in the Indian Ocean World, Vol. 2 (197-218). Palgrave Macmillan

Select Presentations

Walz, J. & Sharkey, R. (2021). Climate change on Zanzibar (Unguja) Island: the outcomes, factors, and origins of an unnatural disaster. Conference: Environmental Crises in the Indian Ocean World, since 1800. Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University. Montreal, Canada

Sarathi, A. & Walz, J. (2021). Just community archaeology and collaboration in Zanzibar: the case of Jambiani. Conference: 13th Annual Meeting of the North America Theoretical Archaeology Group. Archaeology Center, Stanford University. Palo Alto, California

Walz, J. (2019). Resilience through innovation and cooperation: agriculture, climate change and the state on Pemba Island, Tanzania. Conference: African Climate Risks – Dismantling Barriers to Urgent Climate Action. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Walz, J. (2018). Economic and socio-ecological linkages between inland East Africa and the Indian Ocean, AD 500-1550. Workshop: Indian Ocean-Red Sea Day, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies, and Religion, University of Bergen. Bergen, Norway

Walz, J. (2017). Excrement in the Zanzibar Archipelago: agriculture and public health dynamics in historical perspective. Conference: 60th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association. Chicago, Illinois. [Panel Co-Chair and Organizer for The oceanic islands of Southeast Africa: contemporary human-environment dynamics and concerns in historical perspective]

Walz, J. (2016). Rethinking the outer landscapes of the urban Swahili, c. AD 750-1550. Department Lecture: Tropical Archaeology Research Laboratory, James Cook University. Townsville, Australia

Walz, J. (2013). Hinterland East Africa, c. AD 1000: environmental change, Indian Ocean influence, and shifts in political economy. Conference: Proto-Globalization in the Indian Ocean, University of Oxford. Oxford, United Kingdom


  • PhD and MA, Anthropology, University of Florida
  • BA, Anthropology and African Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
J. Richard Walz, PhD

SIT Study Abroad

Academic Director

TANZANIA: Zanzibar Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

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SIT Graduate Institute

Chair and Associate Professor

MA in Climate Change and Global Sustainability

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