2016 Honors in Tanzania

Critical Perspectives on Ecotourism in Tanzania

August 23 – September 20, 2016

Sponsoring departments: School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (UW Bothell), African Studies (JSIS), Honors Program (Undergraduate Academic Affairs)

This program will satisfy the following 5 credits:

Course Credits Credit Type
HONORS 384 5 Honors Interdisciplinary (VLPA/I&S)
JSIS 389 5  
BIS 480 5  
Apply through the UW Study Abroad Website

Applications due: February 26, 2016

Information Sessions:

  • Thursday, January 21, noon, MGH 211 E
  • Wednesday, February 10, 4:30 PM, MGH 211 E

Program Description

This Exploration Seminar is an interdisciplinary course designed to introduce students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds to the social, political, and ecological context of ecotourism and global conservation in Tanzania. Tanzania is one of the most important sites for wildlife conservation in the world. The country faces many challenges in meeting the demands of development and sees tourism as one of the best options for economic growth. Participants in this program will approach ecotourism as a political, economic and cultural activity, examining the ways in which tourism functions as a site for political contestation on local, regional, national and international scales. Students will take a five-credit course that focuses on the history of conservation, land use and environmental governance. Students will also be introduced to Swahili, the national language of Tanzania. There will be a pre-departure language orientation in addition to the standard pre-departure seminars.

Our month long program in Tanzania will include living and working in three separate field sites.

We arrive in Arusha where we will get acquainted with Tanzanian history and culture, learn some basic Swahili, and meet several leaders and organizations involved in conservation, ecotourism and grassroots environmental activism. While in Arusha we will have several guest lectures by Tanzanian leaders and intellectuals, as well as take day trips to various sites in the area. Scheduled field trips include a visit with local farmers and a dairy cooperative, a tour of a large-scale mosquito net factory funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and a visit to the Plaster House, a rehabilitation center and program for children recovering from corrective orthopedic surgery.

After a week in Arusha the group will travel to Loliondo, a predominately Maasai area on the eastern border of Serengeti national park and just south of the Kenyan border. Students will spend ten days camping at the Emanyatta Secondary School, a Maasai secondary school which primarily serves pastoralist and hunter-gatherer students from Ngorongoro District. Approximately ten advanced high school students, five boys and five girls will join our group to form a blended learning community.

Students will meet daily to exchange ideas, as well as work on collaborative projects about Maasai life and the role of conservation and tourism on their land and civic rights. The program directors have secured a UW Global Innovation Fund Grant that will allow the Maasai students to fully participate in the program. These funds will enable Maasai students to eat meals with our group, as well as travel with us to Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where we will all meet with park officials and managers, as well as community organizations.

Students will become acquainted with the variety of organizations that are working in the fields of conservation, sustainable tourism and development, and will have the opportunity to learn about such organizations from scholars in the field, local leaders of these organizations, as well as the Tanzanians who participate and/or receive support from these organizations. We will do so in Arusha, Lake Natron Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Loliondo. Students will also see for themselves the contrasts between urban, small town, and rural life and learn how development works within and across regions. At various points on our journey, students will:

  • Live in and observe a semi-rural community (in Maji ya Chai outside of Arusha) observing the effects of colonial land use policies and urban expansion on rural farmers and families;
  • Live in and observe a rural pastoralist (herding) community (in Ololosokwan village in Loliondo) observing and studying the effects of colonial land use policies and contemporary development polices on pastoral communities and families;
  • Experience inter-cultural dialogue with different Tanzanian groups and communities;
  • Learn about and conduct projects with two local NGOs working on natural resource management and women’s empowerment in northern Tanzania;
  • Spend ten days living at a Maasai secondary school and collaborating with students on research projects exploring the history of the area and addressing contemporary problems related to land rights, women’s rights and access to natural resources;
  • Understand the history, concepts, trends, issues and implications of tourism and conservation in post-colonial sub-Sahara Africa;
  • Gain a deep and rich cross-cultural experience while learning about other cultures, economies and societies and the many challenges they face in an increasingly globalized world;
  • Develop the skills and confidence needed to travel independently with integrity and respect in the world;
  • Build relationships with Tanzanian students and encourage leadership development and group cohesiveness; and
  • Understand the effectiveness of cross-cultural dialogue.


    Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

    This program is an interdisciplinary experience designed to introduce students who are interested in ecotourism, grassroots environmental activism, the cultural politics of development, community development, human rights, and/or policy studies.

    This program is well suited to both undergraduate and graduate students from any of the three UW campuses. The program is open to any major but will appeal especially to students interested in environmental studies, cultural geography, anthropology, political ecology, African studies, international studies, global studies, and cultural studies.

    This exploration seminar is co-sponsored by The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Bothell, The African Studies Program of the Henry M. Jackson School for International Studies, and the UW Honors program. It is open to all undergraduate and graduate students from all three UW campuses. The course is available to honors students for honors credit but you do not need to be an honors student to participate in the program. Students may enroll through whichever course number best suits their major and course of study.

    There are no specific pre-requisites. Students may be asked to attend at least 3 pre-departure meetings (dates and times will be set by winter quarter) All students will have the opportunity to study Swahili in Tanzania.

    A basic level of physical fitness will be required for some activities. Students need to be able to walk 2-5 kilometers, in order to access many outlying areas in rural communities. Students need to be able to sleep in tents and camp.

    If you have concerns about accessibility and physical fitness contact one of the program directors, Benjamin Gardner or Ron Krabill.


    Critical Perspectives on Ecotourism in Tanzania

    Honors 384, 5 credits, Honors Interdisciplinary (VLPA/I&S)

    Why do struggles over the environment incite such passion? What does it mean to defend nature? How do our understandings of environment issues and problems influence our beliefs, values and interests? How do Tanzanian grassroots activists understand the history and meaning of conservation? How do park managers and international conservation organizations talk about African wildlife and tourism. In what ways are struggles over African parks and conservation areas simultaneously material and symbolic? And what do such struggles tell us about contemporary environmental, economic and cultural politics?

    This course looks at ecotourism as a site of environmental politics and as a way to understand the relationship between environmental issues and contemporary debates about culture, economy and society in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world. Readings emphasize the relational histories of nature, power and politics. Students are asked to critically engage with people and places in Tanzania and draw on course readings and diverse methods in search of their own critical practice (praxis) of environmental politics.

    The course will prepare students to ask how and why political, economic, and social dynamics are often left out of common understandings of environmental use and management, and creatively engage environmental politics.

    Program Directors & Staff

    Benjamin Gardner, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Program Director


    Benjamin Gardner is Associate Professor of Global Studies, Environmental Studies and Cultural Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell. He is also Chair of the African Studies Program in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. His research examines the relationship between tourism foreign investment, conservation policy and development. His book, Selling the Serengeti: The Cultural Politics of Safari Tourism in Tanzania (Georgia, 2016) draws on political economy and cultural studies to question the pervasive myths about who owns nature in Africa and how colonial discourses around conservation continue to shape contemporary environmental politics. He is a recipient of the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2014). He has worked in northern Tanzania for over twenty years and has lead many student programs in Tanzania.

    Ron Krabill, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Program Co-Director


    Ron Krabill is Associate Professor and Director of the MA in Cultural Studies at the University of Washington Bothell. His research examines the interactions of media, human rights, and global discourses of citizenship. He is a recipient of the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2006), the author of Starring Mandela and Cosby: Media and the End(s) of Apartheid (Chicago, 2010); and has led several study abroad programs.

    Program Expenses

    Estimated Program Fee: $5,100, plus the UW Study Abroad Fee ($325), airfare, food, UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

    Average Airplane Ticket Price

    $1,600 – $2,300* roundtrip
    *Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

    Payment Schedule

    Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
    Non-Refundable UW Study Abroad Fee $325 July 8, 2016
    Program Fee Balance $5,100 July 8, 2016


    Students need to apply for a visa from the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington DC. Please make sure to secure your visa at least one-moth prior to departure (this means starting the process at least two-months prior to departure.) The program directors will advise students on the process which is entirely by mail. Students will need to mail their passports to the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington DC and be without their passports for up to a month (although it is usually much quicker). Program directors will provide a link to the Tanzanian embassy website which has all of the forms and outlines the process in detail. The IPE office is able to provide a verification letter for students. Students carrying other international passports should contact Ben Gardner, program director, about visa concerns. Visas cost $100.

    Application Process

    The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, one recommendation from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.

    Apply through the UW Study Abroad Website

    Applications due: February 26, 2016