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* Communities and Conservation in South Africa
Acornhoek, South Africa; Hamakuya, South Africa; Kruger National Park, South Africa; Makalali, South Africa (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Summer
Budget Sheets Summer
CSU Deadlines / Program Dates:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2018 12/01/2017 12/15/2017 06/10/2018 07/01/2018
Priority Deadline: December 1 - Final Deadline: February 15 (pending spots available)
Participants will depart the U.S. on a group flight June 8 to arrive on June 10.
Fact Sheet:
Language(s) of Instruction:
Program Coordinator:
Aimee Jones
Program Type: CSU Short Term Program
Program Description:

Communities and Conservation

South Africa

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This summer CSU faculty-led program takes you into the wildest areas of savannah South Africa to work with and learn from rural community members. The course will offer insights into the innovative forms of community-based natural resource management emerging in South Africa.

Program At-a-Glance

WHEN: June 10-July 1, 2018 (Depart the U.S. on June 9)

CREDITS: All committed students will be registered for ANTH/ESS 482A: Communities and Conservation I: Collaborative research for resilient social-ecological systems (4 credits) and ANTH/ESS 482B Communities and Conservation II (2 credits) through CSU's Division of Continuing Education. All tuition and program charges will be billed at the start of the summer term.  

COST: See Budget Sheet for details. The program fee includes tuition and fees for six credit hours through the Colorado State University Division of Continuing Education, round-trip international group flight (Denver to S. Africa), shared accommodation, all in-country meals, all required excursions, international medical and evacuation insurance, on-site transportation, and faculty support. Program fees do not include passport and fees, books and supplies, and personal spending money.

SCHOLARSHIPS: Applicants for this program are eligible for scholarships through the Office of International Programs. Pell grant recipients may also apply for the Benjamin A Gilman Scholarship.

PROGRAM LEADERS: Dr. Melissa McHale, Associate Professor, Ecosytem Science and Sustainability, and Dr. David Bunn, Senior Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Lab at Colorado State University.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: Minimum 2.5 GPA. Instructor approval. Good disciplinary standing.

Academic Overview

This summer CSU faculty-led program takes students into the wildest areas of savannah South Africa to work with and learn from rural community members. The course will offer insights into the innovative forms of community-based natural resource management emerging in South Africa. The goal will be to understand the new landscapes of conservation associated with post-apartheid South Africa, and in the process, to explore the wicked problems faced by the millions of people living in poverty on the edge of protected areas. The program combines some very adventurous travel with detailed field experience, data gathering, and meaningful, long-term partnerships with rural South African communities.

The main focus is on social-ecological issues facing the 2 million or so people living on the edge of one of the world’s great game reserves: the Kruger National Park. Flying in to a research base on the boundary of the Park, participants will spend time interacting with community leaders in Kruger’s southern border villages, studying water security, resource harvesting, and human-wildlife conflict.  Moving into Kruger itself, and travelling in open safari vehicles, we’ll experience the reserve’s remarkable savanna species diversity. Working with South African National Parks scientists, we’ll examine current issues around elephant and lion management, and the complexity surrounding rhino poaching. 

A highlight of the course will be a week of field work in the villages of Hamakuya, on Kruger’s northern border and close to Zimbabwe.  Staying in platform tents and rural huts, participants will be privileged to work with an energetic young team of African environmentalists associated with the Tshulu Trust, helping to support their resource management and ecotourism program.

Course Objectives ESS 482A

  • Identify travel requirements and protocols for traveling to South Africa on this program (knowledge)
  • Describe the differences between non-profit and for-profit organizations (comprehension)
  • Compare and Contrast a variety of examples of non-profits and evaluate the factors that contribute to a “successful” 501c3 organization (comprehension)
  • Describe the social, political, and cultural history of South Africa in the pre- and post-apartheid years, and the impact of this history on present-day environmental management, policy, and justice (knowledge)
  • Evaluate community-based natural resource programs in Africa considering a range of success stories, failures, and lessons learned (evaluation)
  • Interact with a variety of interdisciplinary scientists, managers, non-profits, and communities while researching complex natural resource challenges in the Greater Kruger National Park Social-Ecological System (application)
  • Analyze the specific challenges faced by the people of HaMakuya, Limpopo Province, and work with the Tshulu Trust to contemplate integrative long-term sustainable solutions in the region (analysis)
  • ?Students will be graded on quality of assignment and project work along with classroom participation.
Course Objectives: ESS 482B:
  • Reflect on the overall learning experience in South Africa and evaluate lessons learned in context of American policies and cultural norms (analysis)
  • Communicate complex social-ecological challenges and insights to a broader audience (application)
  • Envision how a non-profit could inspire positive change for underprivileged communities in South Africa (synthesis)
  • Formulate interdisciplinary projects with peers that will contribute to the initiation of a US based non-profit that supports the Tshulu Trust and the HaMakuya community (synthesis and application)


Located in northern South Africa, the program will take place in relatively remote rural areas in and bordering Kruger National Park.  Districts and villages to be visited include the Wits Rural Facility in Acornhoek, Shingwedzi Research Camp in Krugar National Park, HaMakuya, and Makalali.  HaMakuya ("the place of Makuya") is notable both because of the strength of its community organisation, and for the substantial contradictions it experiences relating to poverty, refugees from neighboring Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and the proximity of the vast Kruger National Park, South Africa's largest wilderness area.   


Housing and Meals 

Students will be housed in shared residence halls with clean communal bathrooms near by at the Wits Research Facility, shared home stays in HaMakuya, and permanent tents in Shingwedzi Research Camp and Makalali. All meals will be catered and are included.