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SIT Tanzania Coastal Ecology & Natural Resource Management

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring


Stone Town Zanzibar, Tanzania



Program Features

Affiliated Program


- 2.5 GPA

- Good academic and disciplinary standing

- Previous college coursework and/or significant preparation in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields

- Swimming and snorkeling proficiency is strongly recommended

Application Due:

Spring 9/27

Fall 3/4

Water and town, clock tower in skyline

SIT Study Abroad offers more than 60 accredited semester and summer study abroad programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. SIT also offers the International Honors Program, which is multi-locational.

The SIT Experience

  • Rigorous academic programs through a field-based, experiential approach
  • Undergraduate research through an Independent Study Project
  • Cultural immersion through fieldwork, language classes, and urban and rural homestays with local families
  • A small group of students in each program, supported by SIT faculty and staff, homestay families, in-country experts, and community members
  • Access to SIT's extensive local resources and networks
  • A commitment to reciprocity as the foundation of our educational philosophy

Academic Program

Discover the biodiversity and ecosystems of Zanzibar, Mafia, Pemba Island, and coastal mainland Tanzania. Zanzibar’s unique ecological context is ideal for exploring specific environmental topics, including coral reef conservation, tropical forest management, and resource management. From the program’s base in Stone Town, you’ll examine issues in marine and coastal environments through lectures and short excursions. You’ll explore Misali Island Conservation Area and Chumbe Island Coral Park Ecotourism Project and Reserve; see marine biodiversity while snorkeling off Bawe, Changuu, and Misali and in the Mbudya and Sinda Islands reserves; and examine the unprotected Pange Reef.

Key Topics of Study include:

  • The challenges to the region's fragile ecosystems posed by tourism and other industries
  • Sustainable management of the region's coastal forests, coral reefs, and vulnerable fauna
  • The complex dynamics of local ecosystems in relation to resident communities
  • Terrestrial, inter tidal, and marine ecosystems

For more information, see SIT's webpage.

Program Structure

boats and skyline view of town

Interdisciplinary Seminars

Thematic seminars merge student experience with academic theory to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn from SIT faculty as well as guest lecturers from local universities, research institutes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community and professional associations. Field-based activities and assignments complement readings, discussions, and research papers, allowing students to engage in a variety of study methods.

Intensive Language Study

Programs typically offer language study at the intermediate and advanced levels and/or beginning instruction in a less commonly taught language spoken by the local community. Language courses incorporate formal classroom instruction, discussion, and field exercises designed to enhance student engagement while improving oral and written competence. Select programs are taught entirely or partly in the target language.

Research Methods and Ethics

Students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake fieldwork on topics connected to the program’s theme and specific cultural context. Students develop research skills and approaches including cross-cultural adaptation and skill building; project selection and refinement; contact and resource cultivation; observation and interviewing skills; gathering, organizing, and presenting findings; and maintaining a field journal. Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities and are required to follow the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy, which serves as an approval process and guide for ethical field study practices.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

Typically conducted during the last month of the semester, the ISP allows students to pursue original field-based research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The academic director advises each student on developing a project plan. Students also identify an ISP advisor who works with the student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the student’s research project. Final projects generally include a 20- to 40-page paper and presentation to peers, academic staff, and interested members of the host community.

University of Iowa students who complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) must follow University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures. For more information on the Iowa IRB process please visit the Undergraduate Research Abroad webpage. An additional pre-departure orientation session, hosted by the Iowa IRB, will be offered on campus to help answer questions and ensure compliance.

Cultural Activities

PEMBA: Spend eight days on Pemba island, which lies north of Unguja, living in a rural community and speaking with farmers and fisherfolk about local issues. See the Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary, a fruit-bat roosting site and ecotourism destination, and the ruins of a 14th-century Swahili town. Other trips typically include salt farms, an essential oils distillery, a rubber plantation, a forest reserve, the Misali Island Marine Reserve, and a farmer’s field school that teaches agricultural techniques.

DAR ES SALAAM: In Tanzania’s largest city, you’ll spend a week living in a guesthouse near the University of Dar es Salaam, where you’ll hear lectures and go on a safari at Mikumi National Park, featuring some of Tanzania’s famous wildlife. Learn more about the local mammals, birds, and reptiles in their native habitats, while engaging in conservation efforts and exploring the complexities and outcomes of case studies in natural resource management from multiple standpoints, including those of the local communities.

ZANZIBAR: Visit Chumbe Island Coral Park, a privately owned marine sanctuary off Zanzibar’s coast that is home to the rare coconut crab and a stunning coral reef. During this one-day excursion, gain a better understanding of low-impact tourism and environmental education. Also see Marine Cultures, which provides extra earning opportunities for members of the community while promoting sustainable use of ocean resources. Zanzibaris farm sponges for both the onsite center and international export.

MAFIA ISLAND: On this four-day excursion, you’ll travel to Mafia Island Marine Park to study its recent history of conservation, as well as its interface with indigenous communities and tourism. Snorkel in Chole Bay and encounter green sea turtles, lobsters, and colorful nudibranchs, among other striking marine species. Stay at a guesthouse in Kilindoni; swim with whale sharks; and assist with sea turtle conservation by ensuring a clear coastline for nesting. The island also has remarkable bird life, which you’ll get a chance to see.

Program Dates

Spring Semester: Late January - Mid May

Fall Semester: Early September - Mid-December

For more information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with SIT, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa. 
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353

Stone Town of Zanzibar

Waves on the beach

Located on a promontory jutting out from the western side of Unguja island and into the Indian Ocean, the Stone Town of Zanzibar is an outstanding example of a Swahili trading town. This type of town developed on the coast of East Africa, and further expanded under Arab, Indian, and European influences, but retained its indigenous elements to form an urban cultural unit unique to this region.

The buildings of the Stone Town, executed principally in coralline ragstone and mangrove timber, set in a thick lime mortar and then plastered and lime-washed, reflect a complex fusion of Swahili, Indian, Arab, and European influences in building traditions and town planning. The two-story houses with long, narrow rooms disposed round an open courtyard—reached through a narrow corridor—are distinguished externally by elaborately carved double "Zanzibar" doors (some have wide verandas) and by richly decorated interiors. These homes are places together with simple ground-floor Swahili houses and narrow façade Indian shops along “bazaar” streets, all constructed around a commercial space, or “duka."


Classroom in Arusha at SIT site

SIT places the highest priority on the health, safety, and security of all students. Through their 80-plus years of running international experiential education programs, they have developed sophisticated proactive and reactive risk management strategies. Their proactive risk management begins with in-country assessments of safety and continues through student orientation and emergency preparedness. Their reactive risk management strategies include 24/7 on-call availability, emergency/crisis response protocols, and comprehensive student insurance. Their structure also allows for rapid response and adjustment to changing situations.
Tanzania Travel Information

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Sunset on beach

The program offers you two distinct homestay experiences to enable you to experience both urban and rural environments. Families are typically middle-class, but the middle-class standard of living varies considerably between urban and rural settings.

Your Zanzibar homestay families will welcome you into their family and involve you in many aspects of family life. You will share responsibilities such as cooking, attending religious celebrations, and visiting family friends and relatives. Your absorption into a local family will facilitate your acceptance and integration into the larger community. Many students stay in touch with their Zanzibari families long after their return to the U.S.

Other accommodations during the program include guest houses, small hotels, and university housing. In some semesters, the group may do some camping where permitted.

Stone Town

You will have a four-week homestay with a Swahili family in historic Stone Town, a remarkable city and UNESCO World Heritage site, distinguished for its impressive cultural and architectural legacies. The city boasts magnificent Arab architecture, bustling markets, narrow streets and alleyways, mosques, and museums.

During your stay in Stone Town, you will study and practice Kiswahili in the classroom and at home with your family. Throughout the homestay experience, you will participate in and learn more about the day-to-day cultural activities of your family, allowing you to experience Islamic traditions in the Zanzibari context. Your homestay family can help you make contacts for your Independent Study Project.

Pemba Island

You will have a one-week homestay with a family on Pemba Island, the other large island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. Situated approximately 50 kilometers north of Zanzibar, Pemba Island is rural, with ancient forests, abundant agriculture, and a strong cultural identity. During this homestay, you will be immersed in a close-knit community and experience only sporadic electricity and, possibly, a rationed water supply. Sharing daily life with a family living close to the environment will give you a chance to experience how local people use natural resources.

Educational Excursions

Small boat on water

Many of the excursions on the program will take you directly into the water to explore marine habitats and coastal ecology. You will gain a far better appreciation of what is occurring in the Indian Ocean by examining it firsthand while snorkeling under the guidance of local experts. You will begin to recognize what healthy coral looks like in comparison to unhealthy coral and what types of marine life live in sea grass and the intertidal zone. Biodiversity surveys using transects and quadrats allow for practice with methodology, which you may use for your Independent Study Project. These hands-on learning experiences help you appreciate the interconnectedness of coastal ecology and a healthy biotic system.


You will spend ten days on Unguja’s sister island, Pemba. Pemba, a more rural community, is the base for addressing issues affecting villagers and local fishermen. Here, you will visit the Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary, a fruit-bat roosting site that a local community on Pemba Island has turned into an ecotourism destination featuring guided tours, a lookout tower, and the ruins of a fourteenth-century Arab-Swahili town. You may have the opportunity to assist the village committee in developing and promoting ecotourism and conservation of this endangered species and to study the biology and behavior of the bats to provide baseline data for the management of increasing numbers of visitors to the colony.

You will also visit the Pemba Essential Oils Distillery, where local farmers and schools are involved in the production of clove oil as a cottage industry, using the leaves rather than the more expensive buds of the clove tree. Until recently, the leaves were considered waste, but now are being distilled for their oil content and then recycled into the furnaces for the distillation process. Opportunities for projects here include chemical assay and analysis of oils produced in the distillery itself compared to the field stills (clove oil and lemon grass oil), assessment of management and efficiency of the field stills, and analyzing the current socioeconomic status as compared to a study done in 2007 to see where improvements need to be made.

Other field trip locations typically include salt farms, a rubber plantation, a forest reserve, the Misali Island Marine Reserve, and a farmer’s field school that teaches local farmers about improved agricultural techniques.

Dar es Salaam

On a one-week excursion to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, you’ll live in a guest house near the University of Dar es Salaam, where you’ll hear lectures from the university’s professors. You will also go on a brief safari at Mikumi National Park, where you can see some of Tanzania’s famous wildlife in their natural environment and learn more about mammals, birds, and reptiles and their habitats. You will also engage in national conservation efforts and private ecotourism ventures, considering the complexities and outcomes of case studies in natural resource management from multiple standpoints, including those of local communities.


In Zanzibar, you’ll visit Chumbe Island Coral Park, a privately owned marine sanctuary on an island off Zanzibar’s southeast coast. The park is home to the rare coconut crab and a stunning coral reef. During this one-day excursion, you will be introduced to low-impact tourism and environmental education.

You’ll also visit the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, established to provide extra income-earning opportunities for the local community while promoting conservation and sustainable use of resources. Zanzibaris farm butterflies at the center for both the onsite enclosure and international export. Opportunities for study projects here include researching how female farmers integrate their business and family life, how Zanzibari farmers manage time constraints with butterfly production, the biodiversity of butterflies in the area, management and marketing plans, and environmental education for local children.

Mafia Island

During this three-day excursion, you will visit Mafia Island Marine Park to study its recent history of development, to learn about sea turtle or whale shark tracking and conservation, and to see some of the island's remarkable bird life.


US Citizens

If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students without a valid passport should apply for a new passport or a passport renewal as early as possible.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is at an additional cost). UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact Ryan Ourada ( for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.


Students will work with their program provider to make travel arrangements to their program site. The cost of travel is not included in the course fee. UI Study Abroad will not arrange a group flight to your study abroad destination.

Do not purchase plane tickets until you have received instructions on how to do so from your program provider.

Local Transportation

Within your host city and around the country, students will utilize public transportation such as buses and trains. Excursions and general travel require a lot of walking, so bring some comfortable shoes!


Students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and be in good academic and disciplinary standing. You must be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university at the end of the semester, too. If you are not in good standing at the end of the semester, your acceptance will be revoked and you will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees. Previous college coursework and/or significant preparation in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields, as assessed by SIT, are also necessary. Swimming and snorkeling proficiency is strongly recommended.


The UI cost sheet for this program is forthcoming. General cost information can be found on SIT's webpage.

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Upfront, out-of-pocket expenses

Some costs are incurred prior to departure and will be due before financial aid/scholarships disperse. Here are the expected upfront costs for SIT:

  • Iowa application fee: $50
  • Airfare: $1,000-$1,500
  • Passport: $135

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

SIT automatically gives students from Big Ten institutions a $1,500 scholarship. There is no application necessary — the amount is automatically credited to your account. SIT offers additional awards that can be found on SIT's webpage.

Pell Grant Recipients will have their application fee waived by SIT, are eligible for additional SIT scholarships, and are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details.

Withdrawal policy

SIT's withdrawal policy can be found here: Withdrawal and Cancellation. After applying and being accepted students will then be asked to confirm their participation in the program. After confirmation, students are responsible for the following:

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After submitting the Confirmation of Participation Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
Less than 30 days before the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400 or 50%, whichever is greater
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
On or after the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: 100%
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Application Deadline

Spring: September 27

Fall: March 4

How to Apply

You can find the application for this program on our website here: UI Study Abroad Application. Applicants must meet with a Study Abroad advisor before their application will be processed. You can schedule a meeting by calling 319.335.0353.

Participants must also complete the SIT application and complete all the application components by SIT's deadline. The SIT application can be found here: SIT Application.

Acceptance and Confirmation Materials

Coming soon.

Health & Safety Planning

In addition to submitting their Confirmation of Participation form, students should review the following:

Study Abroad Resources

Passports and Visas

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the PDFHealth Preparation Guide for International Travel form with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

For more information about receiving financial aid while studying abroad, please review the following:UI Financial Aid Information

You can find more information about options for funding your study abroad experience including scholarships on Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad.

In addition, take a look at SIT Scholarship website for information about scholarships offered directly through your program provider.


U.S. passport holders should follow the Visa batch process instructions provided by SIT. Make sure to submit all required documents by the submission deadline. Otherwise you will have to apply for your student visa independently.

U.S. Citizens will need a student visa if they are going abroad for a semester, or academic year. Typically, they will not need a visa for the summer sessions.

UI Study Abroad will hold advising appointments and/or information sessions to provide details on the visa application process. UI Study Abroad staff can provide some assistance on the Italian visa application process, but ultimately the individual traveler (the student) is the person who is responsible for providing correct information on the visa application and securing the visa and all other required documentation prior to travel.

Prior to starting the visa application process check in with SIT for more information; they have a preferred timeline that students need to follow.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course "Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation" prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Pre departure Resources

SIT will provide you with a variety of pre-departure resources to prepare you for your study abroad experience. These will include a packing list, cultural information, housing instructions, etc. Ensure that you thoroughly review any information provided to you by SIT and refer back to it if you have any questions.

These materials may be periodically updated to reflect new program information prior to departure. Be sure to check your SIT Account often.