UConn to Offer Tropical Studies Courses in South Africa

The courses will cover the country’s ecosystems, history and culture from the Skukuza Field Station in Kruger National Park.

A group of a dozen students sit and two lecturers stand against a South African landscape

The courses will cover the country’s ecosystems, history and culture from the Skukuza Field Station in Kruger National Park. (Photo courtesy Michael Willig)

In partnership with the Organization for Tropical Studies, UConn will support a study abroad semester in South Africa’s Kruger National Park in January of 2020. The partnership follows from the more than 40-year history of UConn as a member of the tropical studies organization.

The venture is a collaboration among the newly-formed UConn Institute of the Environment, the Office of Global Affairs, and the Office of the Provost. With the collaboration, UConn becomes the official school of record for the program, which means that students from UConn and from around the world can take the courses for UConn credit.

Michael Willig, director of the Institute for the Environment, says the move is first in a number of steps to leverage UConn’s record of excellence in education and research, in combination with the Organization’s long-standing reputation for advancing integrated research and educational activities in the tropics and beyond.

“Anyone interested in South African ecosystems and culture should apply to this course,” said Willig, who is Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Students studying natural resources, ecology and evolutionary biology, geography, environmental sciences or studies, or geosciences would all greatly benefit from this experience.”

The education abroad experience, called the African Ecology and Conservation Semester Program, includes five courses: South African Ecosystems and Diversity; Conservation, Biodiversity, Management, and Protected Area Design in South Africa; Directed Field Experience; History of Southern Africa; and Supervised Field Work in South African History.

Courses represent a mix of lectures, skills workshops, fieldwork, and directed research, all based at the Skukuza field station within South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The courses are taught by professors and practitioners in land management and conservation. Students will earn 16 UConn credits for completion of the program.

The application deadline for the spring semester 2020 OTS Program is October 1st, 2019 for UConn students and November 1st, 2019 for non-UConn students. Interested UConn students should contact abroad@uconn.edu for advising and apply here. Non-UConn students can contact undergraduate@tropicalstudies.org.