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East Africa Field School


Multiple Areas, Kenya, Tanzania

Program Description

Designed to serve majors from many different disciplines, JMU’s East Africa Field School (12 credit hours) offers a unique opportunity to learn about peoples, cultures, and environments of contemporary Kenya and Tanzania through direct interaction. The program focuses on three broad themes, each supported via site visits, homestays, lectures, readings, and Kiswahili lessons:

1. Histories and Cultures of East Africa – the diversity of cultures extant in Kenya and Tanzania, the impact of colonialism, governance, and meanings of post-colonialism and nationalism.

2. Human-Environment Interactions and the Quest for Sustainability – dimensions of rural life in East Africa, impacts of major cities, varied land uses and pressures on the land, and use and potential of renewables.

3. Education in East Africa – the history of the education system, its challenges and achievements, and local responses to the educational system.

Students also participate in internships through opportunities with our partners specializing in sustainability projects, education, health sciences, and more.

Location Description

JMU’s East Africa Field School takes place amidst the extraordinary geographic and cultural diversity of Kenya and Tanzania. East Africa is largely comprised of plateaus – among the highest in all of Africa – and those plateaus feature world-renown savannas and wildlife, including, of course, the Big Five. Kenya and Tanzania possess impressive geographic features, such as a part of the Great Rift Valley, Africa’s two tallest mountains (glacier-topped Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya), stunning coastal regions and coral reefs, additional biodiversity hotspots in the forms of salt and freshwater lakes (including Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake), arable highlands rich with volcanic soils, and much more. Hubs of industry and international activity, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are among Africa’s largest cities and have populations of over 3 million and 4 million, respectively. Most East Africans live in smaller towns and rural areas, but remain connected in many ways to the towns and big cities.


Jennifer Coffman | | ISAT


Lodging varies throughout our program and includes guest houses/hotels, homestays (i.e., living with host families), tented camps, and residence halls. Students will typically stay in pairs, and occasionally in larger groups.

All meals will be provided as part of the program.

Additional Items to Consider

· This program is an intensive field school. This means a lot of traveling in the six-week program, as well as some hiking and camping. On occasion, some accommodations have minimal facilities (i.e., no running water or grid-tied electricity in some homestays).

· Certain immunizations and anti-malarial medications are required; see and for details.

· Visas are required to enter the countries.

· Students will use a “pay-as-you-go” system, popular in East Africa, for cell phones.

A detailed packing list is provided upon acceptance into the program.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.75

Application Process

Please use the appropriate link to apply:

East Africa Field School

for Program and Internship for JMU Students

Apply now 


Project Go (ROTC) Application

for East Africa Field School Program and Internship. For information about Project GO click here, or apply now:

Apply now


Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ANTH 391 / HIST 391 / GEOG 350 / ISAT 480 / SOCI 391: East Africa Field School Core: Human-Environment Interactions and Perspectives on Development (3 credits)

SWA 101 / SWA 102 / SWA 231 / SWA 232: Swahili - different levels depending on ability (3 credits)

SWA 490: Special Studies in Swahili (1-6 credits)

ANTH 391 / GEOG 491 / IDLS 480 / SOCI 391: Study Abroad: Internship (2-6 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.