Southern African Ecology, Culture, and Programs in Environmental Communication in Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia


Communication 496:  Field Studies in Communication, 3 crediits or
Communication 586: Graduate Field Studies in Communication, 3 credits




A limited number of $1,000 scholarships will be available on a competitive basis to matriculated CCSU students with a GPA of at least 2.50 who are registered for at least one of the academic courses associated with this program.

This three week tour of southern Africa visiting Namibia, Botswana and Zambia will provide participants with a real feel for these beautiful and fascinating countries. The tour will be conducted by Professor Ben Tyson who once lived and worked in the region for five years. Professor Tyson’s expertise, then and now, focuses on the communication aspects of environmental change issues.

The tour will start in Windhoek, Nambia and travel overland in a 17 seat 4wd air conditioned vehicle to Livingstone, Zambia.  Participants will stay at in upscale bungalows two nights and backpacker lodges (with dorm style sleeping arrangements) a few nights, but the vast majority of nights will be spent camping (cots and high quality tents provided).  The camping locations will vary from bush camping in the Okavango Delta (with no facilities or electricity) to very sophisticated park sites with swimming pools and bars. All are safe. Meals will be cooked communally most days with participants on their own for lunches and dinners on a few occasions in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Livingstone.
As the course and tour unfold, participants will be learning how environmental communication is used by governmental and nongovernmental agencies to protect and conserve wildlife. This is particularly interesting in a country where there are few sources of revenue and tourism-based wildlife viewing brings in much needed income to communities. Traditionally, the people of the region have been keen hunters and livestock farmers – both activities which conflict with wildlife protection. Working closely with communities to achieve their cooperation is therefore an integral part of any environmental communication strategy in the region. Throughout the trip, participants will learn from conservation specialists, park rangers, and local villagers about measures to communicate the need to conserve and protect wildlife in the region. The group will visit the Namibia Botanical Gardens Environmental Education Centre, the National Museum of Namibia historical and natural science/zoological sections, the Otjitotongwe Cheetah farm, and the Namutoni Environmental Education Centre in Etosha National Park. Objectives of this Ministry of Environment and Tourism Environmental Education Centre are:
1. to increase knowledge and awareness of the diversity of the fragile nature of the Namibian environment and to encourage the sustainable use of Namibia's natural resources for the present and future generations.
2. to positively influence peoples' attitudes, knowledge and behaviour towards the environment.
3. to build capacity among Namibian youth and encourage them to take the lead in sustainable environmental, social and economic development.
4. to share and develop skills for identifying, critically evaluating and solving environmental problems.

The group will have numerous chances to experience the local culture first hand. In Mondesa they will meet a Herero woman and find out about her traditional dress and the symbolism behind her headdress. They will learn the click vocabulary of the Nama-Damara people and about their traditional medicine. The group will visit the ancient carvings (petroglyphs) and paintings (pictograms) at Twyfelfontein that are thought to have once taught children which animals were good to eat, which were dangerous, and what their spoor was like. Later in the tour, the group will have a chance to spend an entire day in a Himba village. There will be a translated lecture on the history and culture of these unique people and their environmental conservation activities. This will be followed by a village tour and explanation of the Otjikandero Himba Orphan Village Project. On the tropical green northern border of Namibia the group will again have a full day to interact with villagers and visit a local school and church. And once we cross into Botswana, the group will have an afternoon to visit to a local village and gain an introduction to the much different Botswana culture.

In addition to these scholarly pursuits, the group will have time to explore the markets, shops and beaches of Swakopmund. They will experience the Namib Desert and go on a guided walking tour to see the vast diversity of funa and flora it sustains. They will visit the amazing Walvis Bay flamingo colony. A special treat is the visit to Etosha National Park, one of Namibia's foremost areas for conservation and tourism. The park is home to the world's largest population of black rhinoceros, abundant elephant herds, lion prides, dozens of other large and small mammal species and prolific birdlife. In addition to game viewing drives in the day, evenings are spent at a floodlit waterholes viewing nocturnal animals. Equally special is when local guides and polers take the group on Mokoros (local canoes) into the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The polers will find a safe deserted island for lunch and afterwards take the group on a guided walk. The polers grew up in these areas and their knowledge of animal and plant conservation goes beyond anything found in books. Near the end of the tour, the group will enjoy a guided game drive in Botswana’s Chobe National Park (home of the Big 4 - rhino, lion, elephant, and buffalo) and a fantastic game viewing river cruise where the group will have the opportunity to see vast numbers of animals.  The tour will end in the town of Livingstone, Zambia next to the magnificent Victoria Falls where participants will have free time to roam around and explore the area. The group will take a sundowner cruise their last day down the mighty Zambezi river, where they can reflect on the adventures of the last three weeks.

Prior to leaving for the tour, there will be four full day sessions at CCSU that will include basic instruction on environmental communication and an orientation to the tour. This will be held from June 30 to July 3. The objectives of this instruction are:
•    for participants to be able to distinguish between strategies to change environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviors (Reinforcement, Persuasive, Educational and Participatory/Dialogic strategies) and familiarize them with aspects of how these strategies are applied to wildlife conservation measures in southern Africa.
•    to familiarize participants with the geography, history and culture of Namibia and Botswana .  

The objectives of the 3 week tour following this instruction are:
•    for participants to witness first-hand how strategies to change environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviors are applied in Nambia and Botswana.
•    for participants to witness first-hand the geography and culture of Namibia and Botswana.

In addition to an exam based on the readings and class discussion at CCSU, all students will be required to keep a daily journal of their observations during the tour. These journals will be turned in and graded.  In addition, a semester project paper is required for graduate students. Students are to develop a detailed descriptive paper or case study detailing how Reinforcement, Persuasive, Educational or Dialogic strategies are used by an organization or community of their choice in southern Africa to change environmental knowledge, attitudes or behaviors. Competencies students will exhibit at the end of all of the courses include:  
•    an understanding of the diversity of values, beliefs, ideas in southern Africa
•    an understanding of one’s own culture vis-a-vis southern African culture
•    an ability to communicate effectively and interact with people from other cultures
•    an ability to cope with unfamiliar settings with resiliency
•    knowledge of contemporary environmental conservation issues in southern Africa
•    knowledge of strategic communication-based measures used to remediate these environmental conservation issues

Registration Information and Program Costs

The cost of the travel program includes round-trip airport transfers in the U.S. and abroad, economy-class international airfare, double- or triple-occupancy accommodations, most meals, and ground transportation and entrance fees to all required site visits. All personal expenses (i.e., medical, souvenirs, laundry, telephone, etc.) are not included.   Course tuition is not included in the Course Abroad program fee.

Fulfillment of the University's International Requirement: 

All credits earned overseas on a CCSU-sponsored study abroad program, including courses offered in conjunction with Course Abroad programs, automatically receive "I Designation" and count toward fulfillment of the University's General Education International Requirement.

Registration Form

Check out the program itinerary!

$5,595 per person, exclusive of tution and fees

Registrastion Deadline

March 15, 2014

Travel Dates

July 5- 26, 2014

Faculty Director

Prof. C. Ben Tyson
Communication Department, CCSU
(860) 832-2699


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