Ecology and Conservation of Southeast Asian Elephants
This 4-week program focuses on the ecology and conservation of the Asian elephant. Due to a drastic decrease in wild elephant populations, the reality of a world without these charismatic megafauna is becoming a likely possibility. In Asia this is primarily due to a booming human population and increased demand for space. Elephants are of great scientific interest due to their complex behaviors associated with intelligence and social interactions, forming deep family bonds and displaying empathy by recognizing and responding to another elephant’s pain or problem and showing signs of grief after the loss of a family member. Saving the elephants requires improved scientific understanding of the species and the increasingly complex environment that they inhabit.
During part of the program, students are based at the NGO E.L.I.E and their sanctuary, the Elephant Valley Project, located within Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri Province. The Elephant Valley Project is an elephant sanctuary that cares for injured and overworked elephants in a landscape where they forage naturally and roam the surrounding grassy hilltops and lush evergreen and mixed deciduous forests. You will spend time each day with the skilled and professional Bunong elephant caretakers, known as mahouts, who are the core of the sanctuary and have a deep connection with their elephants. You will also join volunteers for meals and, in your free time, you will have the opportunity to participate in scheduled volunteer activities.
The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in Tanzania allow students to examine the drivers of habitat degradation and land-use change, as well as the implications for both local economic livelihoods and wildlife conservation.
Students gain a general overview of cultural perceptions, conservation issues, wildlife dispersal areas, and biodiversity conservation in Tanzania, and have a chance to learn and apply in the field multiple techniques and approaches to studying wildlife, natural resources, and ecosystems.
The curriculum and research of the Wildlife Management Studies semester program focus on determining how changes in land-use and resource availability in the Maasai steppe ecosystems can be managed in such a way as to foster the well-being of local communities while safeguarding and promoting biodiversity conservation.
Each 4-credit session can be taken individually or in combination.
Session I: Wildlife Management and Conservation
Students in this program are exposed to wildlife management practices and the complex issues involving sustainable wildlife conservation in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem of Tanzania. The course combines concepts and principles of ecology, natural resource management, and socioeconomics which are central to effective and sustainable wildlife conservation. During the course, students develop skills to explore the ecology, social organization, and behavior of common African large mammals.
Session II: Techniques for Wildlife Field Research
Students learn a suite of wildlife field techniques and methods routinely used to assess wildlife ecology and management policies and practices in East Africa with specific application to the Tanzania Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem conservation areas. The focus is multidisciplinary and reflects the complex realities of balancing ecological, economic, and socio-cultural factors in sustainable wildlife conservation and management studies.
The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in Bhutan give students a broad exposure to the core areas of environment, culture, development, and governance in Bhutan. Students apply conceptual, analytical, and technical skills to help address questions related to natural resource-based livelihoods, conservation of biodiversity, and ecological vulnerabilities.
The program curriculum and research agenda address issues related to modernization in Bhutan: the support of rural livelihoods and the conservation of biodiversity in the face of a changing society and landscape.
Environment and Society in Transition
In Bhutan, a Himalayan country characterized by towering mountains, lush forests, and a unique cultural heritage, progress and development is evaluated on the basis of cultural preservation and environmental conservation rather than purely economic achievements. Student research will focus on enhancing the condition of forest, river, and mountain ecosystems while balancing the processes of modernization and cultural preservation.
The summer course is 6 weeks.
Eastern Himalayan Forests and Rural Livelihoods
Traveling throughout Bhutan, students learn about culture and history, religious traditions, environmental issues, and conservation policies. Students explore the role environmental services and natural resources play in rural livelihood and national development. Students conduct research on Bhutan’s primary environmental concerns, including sustainable forestry, watershed management, and rural development.