Introducing Ecology and Anthropology in Tanzania to a Wider Audience

6 September 2023
By Helena Kaufman, Director of OCS, and Rob Quanbeck, Program Manager of Carleton Global Engagement Programs

The fall of 2022 marked the first time that Ecology and Anthropology in Tanzania operated under Carleton’s direction. Following its successful inaugural year of operation, it was time to introduce the program to a wider audience!

Tanzania landscape
Carleton group

The Provost’s Office and the Off-Campus Studies Office worked together to organize the six-day visit to northern Tanzania in early August. On August 6, thirteen administrators and faculty members from seven institutions gathered with faculty director Anna Estes and anthropology instructor Ahmed Ibrahim at the MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MS TCDC) in Usa River for the site visit. Though very condensed, the site visit provided a taste of the experience students have when they study with Carleton’s 13-week program in the fall. The next six days included an introduction to the interdisciplinary curriculum, the field methods and independent field research projects, conversations with the MS TCDC leadership team and instructors, Swahili language instruction, overviews of the Tanzanian health care system, visits with home stay families, many delicious meals, and an overnight safari with Dorobo Safaris.

Training Centre in Tanzania

Language plays a central role in learning about any culture, so the site visit participants received Swahili language instruction from one of MS TCDC’s experienced language teachers. With encouragement and support, the group was soon able to use karibu, asante, and harari appropriately and enthusiastically. Two other words that became favorites of the group were shaghalabaghala and bombabomba.

Studying in Tanzania

No visit to Tanzania would be complete without a safari to view the dramatic landscape and magnificent wildlife of Tanzania’s protected areas and natural parks. So many animals and birds to see from the open roof of a safari vehicle! Students go on two multi-day safaris in the Maasai Steppe and Serengeti ecosystems, staying both at campsites and in safari lodges. Site visit participants got a taste of the student experience on an overnight camping safari to the Tarangire National Park. No better way to tell students about camping in the savannah than doing it yourself, as best expressed in the words of Associate Provost David Liben-Nowell, one of the site visit participants: “I never imagined that my career would ever call on me to spend a night in a tent in the middle of a national park in Tanzania — never mind breakfast outside that tent ending with a prop-laden “poop talk,” in which Anna gave us a little scatological mini-lecture about the differences between elephant and zebra droppings (and their digestive systems/strategies).”

giraffes in Tanzania
camping in Tanzania
safari in tanzania
zebras in tanzania
Elephant in Tanzania

The team for Carleton returned to Northfield with a great appreciation for the opportunity Ecology and Anthropology in Tanzania provides for students. The program operates every fall and is open to students from other colleges and universities as well as to Carleton students. Applications for Fall 2024 open in mid-November.

lake with elephants