Ecology and Evolution of the African Serengeti Ecosystem in Tanzania


On Campus: CD Mod; March 2-May 5, 2022, Day & Time TBD
Off Campus: May 17 - June 2, 2022 (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 (Pensacola FL, 2022) and/or CSB/SJU’s Scholarship and Creativity Day (2022).

Explore complete Tanzania Embedded Program details on CSB/SJU 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:  Experiential Engagement (EX)  - pending

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

Course Description:

This course combines classroom learning at CSB/SJU during d block 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 (D Block, 2021) and in Tanzania (May 2021):

  • 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 2022 (Pensacola, FL) 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.

All students are required to enroll in Biology 373. These credits (4) will be applicable to the CSB/SJU Biology major upper division requirement (five upper division lab classes). This course also has the EL (experiential learning). This course can also be applied to upper division requirements for the Environmental Studies and Secondary Science Education majors. We will meet during the C block in 2021 and then travel to the Serengeti in May, 2021. 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 April meeting, 2022.

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. Find Program Fee information on theCSB/SJU 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.   


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 abroad programs (India 2014 and 2017), ten field-based courses to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador (2010-2019) and three field-based courses to the Gerace Research Centre, Bahamas (2016, 2018, 2020). 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. She also has experience in the Serengeti region - she completed a site visit in December 2019 and has visited all the sites the course group will also visit. Contact: Kristina Timmerman