On the trails of our ancestors: The Tanzania Field School in Anthropology (OTA-TFSA)

This is a 4 credits/30 hours per week research-based field school course that provides students with an intense four weeks’ field-based learning experience that focuses on paleoanthropology, paleoecology, geology, archaeology, ecology and conservation, and culture of nomadic pastoralists of the Ngorongoro highlands and agricultural communities of the Southern highlands in Tanzania. The field school takes place in the Serengeti Plains of northern Tanzania at a 3.5 million years old Laetoli paleoanthropological site; a 1.9 million years old Olduvai Gorge archaeological site within the Ngorongoro Conservation Are; and a 260 Kya Isimila Acheulian Stone Site in the southern highlands of Tanzania. The objectives of the Tanzania field school in anthropology is to provide students with opportunities to participate in rigorous, yet culturally enriching training and research projects in anthropology where students will:
– Be involved in inquiry-oriented investigations in anthropology in which they will interact with peers, teachers, and the participating Tanzanian communities;
– Gain experience in accessing the scientific knowledge found in a variety of sources, including field lectures, actualistic experiments, and observations;
– Apply science contents to new research problems in society and health issues, ecology and conservation, and paleoanthropological research;
– Engage in problem-solving, planning, decision-making, and group discussions on a variety of issues relevant to the field school research topics.

This is a rigorous field-based training with hands-on activities approach (30 hrs. per week) where students will explore various research questions related to the human condition. For example, students will spend 3 – 4 hours in the mornings surveying, systematically collecting fossil specimens or doing some experimental studies with supervision from field assistants and instructors. Participating instructors in the afternoon will offer alternating 45 – 60 minutes long lectures per day (in the evenings) and students are expected to take notes, keep field journals and take part in-group discussions.