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East Africa Field School


Multiple Areas, Tanzania

Program Description

Designed to serve majors from many different disciplines, JMU’s East Africa Field offers a unique opportunity to learn about peoples, cultures, and environments of contemporary Tanzania through direct interaction. The East Africa Field School incorporates site visits, homestays, lectures/class discussions, readings, and a variety of other assignments to provide breadth and depth on the following:

  • Kiswahili – the official language of Tanzania
  • Histories and Cultures – diversity of cultures in Tanzania, impacts of colonialism, meanings of post-colonialism, nationalism, and development
  • Human-Environment Interactions and the Quest for Sustainability – dimensions of rural life, impacts of major cities, varied land uses and pressures on the land and water bodies, use and potential of renewables
  • Education and “knowing” – local and formal education systems in Tanzania, challenges and achievements 

Program objectives include:

  • Kiswahili language learning at appropriate levels (from beginner to advanced)
  • identifying key geographical features
  • identifying and analyzing social, political, and economic patterns and practices in East Africa
  • understanding ways in which individual and group identities are constructed, maintained, and contested
  • discussing and contextualizing prominent individuals and groups
  • critically examining contemporary issues, including urbanization, education, development, environmentalism, resource management, globalization, and health within the context of Tanzania
  • studying “sustainability” focusing on energy, water, food, and appropriate technology (AT), as well as partnering with local NGOs on projects in Zanzibar and Longido

  The East Africa Field School is divided into two sections:

  • Part I: 17 May – 13 June, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar
    • Kiswahili at appropriate level (3 credit hours)
    • Tanzania: Human-Environment Interactions and Perspectives on Development, Part I (3 credit hours)

      This part of the program includes studying at the main campus of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and the UDSM's Institute of Marine Science on Zanzibar’s Unguja Island, spending 1.5 weeks in homestays in Dar, undertaking coursework and field studies in Zanzibar (including Unguja and Chumbe), and more.

  • Part II: 13 June – 12 July, the inland plateau, including Dodoma, Kondoa, Lake Victoria, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire/Manyara, Arusha, and Longido
    • Kiswahili at appropriate level (3 credit hours)
    • Tanzania: Human-Environment Interactions and Perspectives on Development, Part II (3 credit hours)
    • This part of the program involves traveling through the inland plateau to explore case studies in human-environment interaction, as analyzed through the guiding framework of political ecology. Part II includes analyzing different kinds of protected areas, learning about “conservation” and “sustainability” in a variety of locales, experiencing homestays with self-identifying Maasai pastoralists, and more.

Location Description

JMU’s 2018 East Africa Field School takes place amidst the extraordinary geographic and cultural diversity of Tanzania. Tanzania possesses impressive geographic features, such as a portion of the Great Rift Valley, savannas teeming with wildlife, Africa’s tallest mountain (glacier-topped Mt. Kilimanjaro), 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. With 120+ socio-linguistic groups, Tanzania is also culturally diverse, and Kiswahili has served as a language of unification, particularly since the Nyerere era. A hub of industry and international activity, Dar es Salaam is among Africa’s largest cities, has a population of over 4 million people, and is home to the University of Dar es Salaam, the oldest university in Tanzania and beginning location for this program. Most East Africans live in smaller towns and rural areas, but remain connected in many ways to the towns and big cities, as we shall experience throughout the program.

EAFS Part I focuses on the coastal region of Dar es Salaam and the Zanzibar Archipelago.
EAFS Part II focuses on the inland plateau and includes visits to Morogoro, Dodoma, Kondoa, Lake Victoria, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Arusha, and Longido. 


Jennifer Coffman | | ISAT


Accommodations are provided throughout the program. Lodging varies depending on locale and includes guest houses/hotels, homestays (i.e., living with host families), tented camps, bungalows, and residence halls. Students typically stay in groups of 2-3.

All meals will be provided as part of the program. In many instances, meals will be included as part of the accomodations. In other instances, students will receive stipends from which to cover food costs.

Additional Items to Consider

JMU and non-PGO students may participate in Part I only or both Parts I and II. Only returning students or students with significant prior experience in East Africa may undertake Part II by itself in 2018.  Contact the Program Director for more information.

  • This program is an intensive, busy, demanding field school. This means a lot of traveling, as well as some hiking and camping. Some accommodations have minimal facilities (e.g., no running water or grid-tied electricity in some homestays).
  • Certain immunizations and anti-malarial medications are required; see for details.
  • Visas are required to enter the countries and need to be student visas (details on process providedas part of pre-departure process).
  • Students will use a “pay-as-you-go” system popular in East Africa. If students prefer to use their own smart phones, the program will provide SIM cards for use in those phones. Otherwise, basic cell phones will be provided by the program.
  • A detailed packing list is provided upon acceptance into the program or earlier upon request.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.75

Application Process

Please use the appropriate link to apply:

East Africa Field School Part I: 

May 17-June 13, 2018

Apply now

East Africa Field School Part II: 

June 13-July 12, 2018

Apply now

Project Go Applicants: 

May 17-July 12, 2018: for East Africa Field School Program (PGO students are required to participate in both Parts I and II). 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 491 / ISAT 480 / SOCI 391: Tanzania: Human-Environment Interactions and Perspectives on Development, Part I (3 credits)

ANTH 391 / HIST 391 / GEOG 491 / ISAT 480 / SOCI 391: Tanzania: Human-Environment Interactions and Perspectives on Development, Part II (3 credits)

SWA 101 / SWA 102 / SWA 231 / SWA 232 / SWA 300 / SWA 320 / SWA 490: Kiswahili - from beginner to advanced levels, depending on ability (3 credit hours per course; up to 6 credit hours total)

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.


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