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AU Nairobi | Environment & Human Health

Program Structure

Students at the base of large Baobab tree

The Environment and Human Health (EHH) program is a unique opportunity for students interested in environmental issues, public health, and international studies who want to pursue varied opportunities in Kenya's diverse landscape. EHH students will have orientation and take courses for about a month in Nairobi while living in a homestay alongside Contemporary Issues in Kenya and Africa students, and then move to Aboseli for about two weeks for the conservation course described below. EHH students will join Contemporary Issues in Kenya & Africa students in western Kenya for a rural homestay experience. EHH students will then move to the Turkana Basin Institute to take an intensive course in northern Kenya for about two weeks. Environment and Human Health students will then pursue an internship or an independent research project for the remaining portion of the semester in Nairobi or another Kenyan location determined by program staff that suits each student's academic needs. Students in this program will then finish the semester with the Contemporary Issues in Kenya and Africa students for a final excursion to wrap up the semester. This program is worth 15 or 16 credits.

Academics (Spring)

In Nairobi

Overlook of buildings with patios and hanging laundry

Environmental Health

ENVS-324; 3 credits

This course will examine the physical, chemical and biological factors in the environment that impact community health and health behaviors. The concept and methods of risk assessment will be discussed, as well as how health‐supportive environments can be created and maintained. This course can count as a Public Health elective and is taught at the AU Nairobi Center.

Group of Kenyans with rainbow umbrella

Immersion in Another Culture, Survival Swahili, and Kenya History

SABD-325; 3 credits

This course is designed to facilitate your immersion into Kenyan Culture in order to maximize your study abroad experience. The class will look at aspects of Kenya’s diverse and complex culture in the context of being an international student. We will explore cultural patterns, identity, ethnicity, gender and stereotypes through an anthropological lens. Guest lecturers will be invited to share their expertise on specific topics. Language training in “survival” Kiswahili will also be included in this course. Kiswahili is the largest and fastest growing African-based language spoken in Africa. It is the lingua franca for most of East Africa and parts of Central Africa, spoken by 100 - 150 million people in various capacities. It is also the national or official language of at least five nations; Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Union of the Comoros. Finally, this course will focus on Kenyan history. You will be able to navigate your semester more thoroughly through this context. This course is taught at the AU Nairobi Center.

In Amboseli

View of river near Lake Turkana

Environmental Conservation and Social Science

SABD-325; 3 credits

This course is conducted at the Mpala Research Center, and examines global and local dimensions in the conservation of the environment including its ecosystems and biodiversity. It looks to identify challenges and also attempts to consider best-case scenarios for successful and sustainable conservation measures. This course can count as a Public Health elective.

In Turkana

Giraffe drinking from pond at Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Environments, Ecosystems and Evolution

ENVS-311; 3 credits

This course is taken at the Turkana Basin Institute founded by Dr. Richard Leakey and Stony Brook University in northern Kenya. This course offers an introduction to the ways scientists use the fossil and archaeological records to learn about past changes in Earth’s climates, environments, and animal communities, and how humanity’s ancestors responded to those changes physiologically and technologically. Interdisciplinary lectures will show evidence from the Turkana Basin’s paleoenvironmental, fossil and archaeological records of the dynamic interactions between the climate,environment, local food webs, and ancient human populations. This background will prepare students for training in paleoanthropological and archaeological field methods.

Program Choice

Student watching sunset at Lake Turkana

Environmental Science Independent Project

SABD-325; 3 or 4 credits

Students will spend the final weeks of the program pursuing a full-time independent research project (3 or 4 credits) or internship (3 credits), located in Nairobi or at other select sites in Kenya under the program’s direction. Subjects focused on included permaculture, lake biology and ecosystems, wildlife management, and sanitation and epidemics, any of which can be examined against the social categories that have come to serve as units of analysis in the social science research. Examples of such independent research projects or internships could include but are not limited to: issues of women empowerment in the fishing industry; HIV/AIDS and and the fishing culture; Kenyan youth contributions in the environmental conservation; and how devolution of government resources impact on wildlife management.

"The program courses were some of the most academically engaging classes I have taken and actually challenged me to rethink a lot of things I thought I knew about development."

-Student Evaluation