Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management

Key Features

Madagascar is a world apart, evolving from a set of unique, isolated environmental circumstances.

Live and study in Fort Dauphin.
The program is based in Fort Dauphin (Tolagnaro), a town of approximately 50,000 people. Situated on a peninsula at the southern end of a chain of rainforested mountains, Fort Dauphin is surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean and is home to some of the country’s cleanest and most beautiful beaches.

Five very distinct ecosystems exist within a fifty-mile radius of Fort Dauphin, making it a great base from which to take a variety of educational excursions. Students are able to appreciate the wonders of rainforests, spiny thicket, gallery zones, coastal vegetation, and transitional areas.

Examine Madagascar’s long-term conservation and development needs.
Students are not only exposed to spectacular natural settings; they also explore the human pressures placed on the country's ecosystems and possibilities for the future. Students grapple with questions of conservation versus development. Often these debates raise more questions than solutions, further compelling students to study, learn, and contribute to the discussion.

Explore a variety of integrated themes in collaboration with Malagasy partners.
The program offers thematic units on biodiversity, lemur ecology, conservation and environmental management, environmental impacts of mining and economic development, forest types and land use over time, ethnobotany, ecotourism, and marine studies.

The Environmental Research Methods and Ethics seminar allows students to experiment with a wide range of social and natural science field techniques alongside Malagasy counterparts studying environmental management.

Enhance your French while learning Malagasy.
Students are able to improve their French, while studying the environmental and conservation issues about which they are passionate. Students also learn Malagasy to connect more deeply with the Malagasy people. Students have multiple opportunities to improve their speaking skills in both languages through time in the classroom; on field excursions; time with host families, friends, and Malagasy students; and through conversations with the program’s extensive network of partners and contacts. 

Community ecology project with Malagasy students
During the village stay, students will work closely with their Malagasy counterparts in designated groups on a community ecology study. Project activities may include an ecological inventory of a forested area (e.g., looking at its physical features or species, or on the human influences observed) or may focus on the physical, cultural, and social aspects of the village. Students conduct interviews, synthesize their data, and present their findings in Fort Dauphin.

Visit key sits related to Madagascar's contemporary ecology and conservation.
Madagascar is an incredibly rich country in terms of flora and fauna. During excursions outside Fort Dauphin, students directly witness current conservation challenges, such as deforestation for cattle grazing and mining, slash and burn agriculture, charcoal production and fuel wood use, production of non-food cash crops, and the illicit trade in endangered species. Madagascar’s national system of park management is juxtaposed with local livelihood practices, where people view the forest as a source of food, shelter, energy, and medicine. Learn more about the program’s excursions.

Complete an Independent Study Project.
During the final month of the semester, students focus on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in which they conduct primary research on a selected topic. The ISP is conducted primarily in southern Madagascar or other appropriate locations.

Sample topic areas include:

  • Behavioral ecology of lemurs
  • Community-based resource management
  • Conservation assessments of endangered species
  • Coral reef management and conservation
  • Cash crop production and links to local livelihoods
  • Medicinal plants in the marketplace
  • Ecotourism
  • Carbon sequestration and financing
  • Land tenure reform and agricultural production
  • Payments for ecosystem services
  • Sacred forests
  • Sustainable land use techniques


Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Fort Dauphin (Tolagnaro)

Language Study: French,  Malagasy

Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields; 3 semesters college-level French Read more...

Madagascar

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)


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