Ecology and Evolution of the African Serengeti Ecosystem in Tanzania

Tanzania, Various

On Campus: CD Mod; March 13-May 9, 2024, Day & Time TBD
Off Campus: May 21 - June 7, 2024 (Tentative)

Program Highlights

  • Join us for an educational journey to witness African wildlife in a breathtaking grassland ecosystem – the Serengeti grassland ecosystem.
  • During this embedded, upper division biology course, we visit three conservation areas: Tarangire National Park has the highest elephant density in the country, Ngorongoro Crater, called a “Garden of Eden” due to its beauty and wildlife, and Serengeti National Park, home of the wildebeest migration and the lions that hunt them.
  • Students will delve into ecological topics such as predator-prey competition, lion pride dynamics, elephant interactions with tourists, keystone species and human/wildlife conflicts.
  • Conduct at least two independent research projects and present your data results at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Spring 2024 and/or CSB+SJU’s Scholarship and Creativity Day (2024).

Explore complete Tanzania Embedded Program details on CSBSJU-Global Portal.

Course & Program Information

Course Name: Ecology and Evolution of the Serengeti Ecosystem

Course Number:  Biology 373Q

Credit Number:  4

Common Curriculum: Experiential (EL) 

Integrations Curriculum: Global (GL) & Experiential Engagement (EX) with Thematic Encounter – Justice

Major/Minor: meets BIOL major upper division requirement;  Meets upper division requirements for ENVR; Meets upper division requirements for Secondary Science Education majors.

Pre-requisite: Biology 101, Biology 201 and Biology 202 or consent of instructor

Course Description:

This course combines classroom learning at CSB+SJU during cd mod and ends with an experiential component abroad after the semester ends. This course is designed to engage students in evidence-based learning in relation to the Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania. Via traditional lectures, flipped classrooms, activities designed to foster critical thinking (on campus and in the Serengeti), and a minimum of two field research projects (while on safari in the Serengeti), students will gain an understanding of the Serengeti’s ecosystem ecology and human-wildlife conflict issues that threaten the survival of this iconic corner of the world. 

During the embedded course on campus and in Tanzania:

  • Students will gain knowledge on the geology, climate, and habitats of the Serengeti Ecosystem.
  • Students will learn behavioral research techniques and plan two observational research projects. One will focus on elephant behavior near tourist jeeps in Tarangire National Park and the second will be student’s choice of an organism(s) in Serengeti National Park. Then, during the field portion of our course, students will implement these research projects, analyze the data, and create scientific papers or posters based on data results. These results will be submitted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research to be presented during their annual meetings in 2025 and to CSB+SJU’s Scholarship and Creativity Presentation Day.
  • Students will gain an understanding of human evolution and relate that knowledge to current cultural diversity of Tanzania. We will visit three cultural sites while in-country.
  • Students will review human-wildlife conflict and management strategies that maximize coexistence of humans and wildlife in the Serengeti Ecosystem.

Program Information

Embark on a biological/educational safari expedition to Tanzania’s Serengeti Ecosystem. As seen in numerous documentaries, the Serengeti carries both ecological and cultural diversity. Located primarily in northern Tanzania, the term Serengeti invokes grasslands as far as the eye can see with clouds of migrating herbivores and lurking predators that hunt them.  

The word Serengeti is an approximation of the word Siringet, used by the Maasai, meaning “the place where the land runs forever”, and the sheer size of the Serengeti makes it a unique and important ecosystem in both Tanzania. This vast ecosystem is large - more 1.5 million hectares (larger than the state of Connecticut)  and contains the highest large mammal density in the world, The Serengeti is home to more than 500 bird species and is the site of the last, great, land migration. This region is so ecologically valuable, that the United Nations declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As a part of this course, you meet during CD mod on campus and then as a class will travel to the Serengeti after the semester ends. During class time and during the program, there will be traditional lecturing and testing but most class work will be carried out in the field setting. Students will write a scientific paper and/or poster based on field research and keep a journal of their experiences throughout the program. Results from your scientific paper/poster will be submitted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research for presentation during their annual meetings and to the CSB+SJU Scholarship and Creativity Day committee for presentation during the folowing spring semester. 

Program Cost & Financial Considerations

Students on an embedded program will pay an education program fee in addition to the cost of attendance for the semester. All program fee information is found in the “Financing your Experience-Short-term” brochure found on the Financing Study Abroad  website.   You will also find  more information about what is included and not included in the program fee on theCSBSJU-Global Portal.  

Students should plan early for a successful study abroad experience. Financial aid and scholarships may be available to help with program costs, but must be searched out well in advance.   

Cancellation Policy for Tanzania Study Abroad Programs Cancellation Fees/Dates 

Withdrawal between January 1 and February 1

  • $250.00 plus any fees plus unrecoverable for cancellation

Withdrawals after February 1

  • $500 cancellation fees plus charged 100% of the program fee. 

In the case that CSB/SJU Cancels a Program

Cancellation prior to Program Departure

  • Full refund of $200 application fee
  • No cancellation or unrecoverable fees will be charged


During the experiential learning portion of the class, students and the director will stay at five different hotels, lodges or camps. All facilities have private rooms with bathrooms. Housing will be two, three or four people per room. All bedding and towels are provided at all facilities. Meals are also included at all facilities except when we are on a safari day – then we will have a packed lunch that will be taken into the field with us.

In terms of WiFi connectivity, all facilities have internet, either throughout the property or only available in the property’s  lobby or dining area.

Program Director Information

Kristina Timmerman has been a member of the Biology Faculty since 2007 and has led two semester study abroad programs (India 2014 and 2017), ten field-based courses to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador (2010-2019) and four field-based courses to the Gerace Research Centre, Bahamas (2016, 2018, 2020, 2022). Kristina led the first field-based course to Serengeti region of Tanzania in Spring 2022. Prior to working at CSB/SJU, she also led numerous field-based trips to Northern Minnesota (Voyaguers National Park), Montana and Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park, Central India, Nepal, Ecuador, Kashmir, and Ladakh. Professor Timmerman has a passion for teaching both in the classroom and in the field and she strives to create opportunities that synthesize the two types of learning.  Contact: Kristina Timmerman