The Wildlife and Conservation in Kenya program is designed to expose students to several key areas of conservation science with the additional benefit of on-the-ground field research in wildlife ecology. An engaging exploration of Kenya's vast and diverse ecosystems, this course will put you in close proximity to some incredible and charismatic wildlife.
Participants will have an incredible experience viewing wildlife, while learning about current challenges facing terrestrial megafauna that include the classic big five (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhino). We will accomplish this by visiting multiple national parks, meeting key conservation biologists, and being introduced to a wide range of current wildlife management issues. Here is a list of some of the places we will go:
At both the applied and academic level, topics will include the conservation, biology, and behavior of species; landscapes and the conservation of protected and non-protected areas; human-wildlife conflicts; and the complexities of community-level interactions.
Due to the sensitive nature of the region, this group's size will be limited, so we suggest you submit your application as soon as you can.
Conservation in action: research to applied science
Wildlife management: mammals, landscapes, and conflict resolution
Ecosystem and geography: savannas, Great Rift Valley, grasslands
Culture and conservation: human dimensions of wildlife protection
Business and leadership: Tourism, marketing, and politics
This program is open to all undergraduate students including students who do not attend George Mason University. Members of the general public and non-students are also welcome to participate. Note: Participants must be able to endure long intervals of using ground transportation (safari vehicles) in addition to spending hours out in the field and hiking across flat landscapes. Due to the nature of the program, space is very limited.
Undergraduate students must have a minimum GPA of 2.25.
Students will choose one 3-credit course during the application process.
Biology - BIOL 440: Field Biology
Environmental Science and Policy - EVPP 490: Special Topics in Environmental Science and Policy
Integrative Studies - INTS 399: Study Abroad
Geography and GeoInformation Science - GGS 399: Special Topics in Geography and GeoInformation Science
(Tentatively, awaiting approval) Film and Video Studies - FAVS 399: Special Topics in Film and Video Studies
Participating as a graduate student in this course is possible but requires additional work on the student side and student must have permission from their Academic Advisor and your department head. There are additional academic components required to earn graduate credit and you must talk with the Academic Director for approval.
January 2 - January 17, 2021
JAN 2: (Saturday) Departure from US
JAN 3: Arrival to Kenya - Nairobi
JAN 4: Nairobi
JAN 5: Nairobi to Laikipia Plateau
JAN 6: Laikipia Plateau
JAN 7: Laikipia Plateau
JAN 8: Laikipia Plateau
JAN 9: Laikipia Plateau / Great Rift Valley
JAN 10: Great Rift Valley
JAN 11: Great Rift Valley / Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 12: Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 13: Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 14: Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 15: Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 16: Nairobi - Departures
JAN 17: (Sunday) Arrival to US
* Dates and itinerary subject to change. The Global Education Office reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances.
Winter 2020: $4,305
Winter 2021: Available August 30, 2020
Included: Tuition for 3 credits, accommodations,* most meals, guided tours and field excursions as described in itinerary, in-country travel, international emergency medical insurance. *Note: Accommodations range from guest houses, cottages, to tented camps. None of the facilities will have air conditioning (though it is not necessary), and at times hot water and electricity will be limited, but always accessible.
Not included: Airfare*, passport and visa fees, some meals, personal spending, recommended malaria prevention medications, required textbooks and/or course materials. *Note: This program does not include a group flight. Information regarding arrival times and location will be sent out to all participants after the application deadline. Do not purchase airfare until you receive the "Green Light for Flights" notice from the Global Education Office via email. The notice will include information on the arrival/departure airports, flight times, and where to meet the group. Students who fail to follow the guidelines GEO sends out will be responsible for applicable costs of changing their flights.
When the time comes to purchase airfare, GEO will be recommending the purchase of Flight Interruption and Cancellation Insurance. The “Green Light for Flights” email will provide additional information about this insurance.
Students on MasonGEO programs must pay the advertised program cost in order to participate. This cost will be made in three payments (Deposit + First Payment + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments.
Application Deposit: A non-refundable program deposit $200 must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.
First Payment: A non-refundable payment of $1000 must be received by October 20th. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee. Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.
In the event that a student’s financial aid or VA Benefits is estimated to cover the entire costs of the study abroad program, the entire charge will be posted to their student account, since that is where the aid will be applied. In this case students do not pay their first payment through MasonAbroad. However students must submit their “Intent to Use Financial Aid” form by the first deposit deadline.
Final Payment: The final balance payment is due by November 10th. This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1200 you've already paid (Deposit + First Payment). Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.
Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the First Payment deadline. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" form is available in the MasonAbroad application system once you have started your application for this program. If you are using VA Benefits please contact your program officer to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."
Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to be receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.
Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now. The Global Education Office offers Passport Grants to help.
Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk, the pre-departure orientation, and your financial responsibility.
Intent to Use Financial Aid Form: For Mason students only. If you use financial aid, this form must be completed by your financial aid counselor and submitted by the 1st payment deadline.
Additional requirements for non-Mason applicants:
Official transcript: To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.
Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.
* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.
BIO: Ryan Valdez is adjunct faculty with GMU’s Biology Department, College of Science. He is also the Director for Conservation Science & Policy for National Parks Conservation Association. He facilitates the application of multidisciplinary science focused on air/climate, energy, landscapes, water and wildlife toward conservation strategies helping to protect US national parks.
Ryan previously worked for Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute for over 10 years in the field, classroom, laboratory and museum settings. He has managed ecological programs throughout the Americas and East Africa and holds a strong interest in applied GIS. He frequently uses on-line interactive maps to share the story of protecting national parks.
Ryan founded the George Mason University Kenya Wildlife Study Abroad program in 2010, which has been a life-changing experience for numerous university students pursuing degrees in conservation biology. As a STEM career and academic mentor, Ryan has helped many students develop strategies toward employment opportunities and graduate level education.
Ryan holds degrees in conservation science from three universities: Texas A&M University (B.S.), Yale University (MFS) and George Mason University (Ph.D.).
BIO: Mary Wykstra is based in Nairobi, Kenya and is the co-founder and director of Action For Cheetahs in Kenya. Mary completed her Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Michigan State University and holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Since 2001, 15 Masters and over 30 undergraduate students completed their thesis projects and internship programs under the guidance of Mary and the Action for Cheetahs in Kenya Staff. She oversees a staff of 25 people working from two field locations in research, community development and conservation education projects using the cheetah as a means to understand ecology and threats to environmental sustainability.
** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.