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Programs : Brochure

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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Advisor: Kelly Jo Bahry Click here for a definition of this term Advising Required: Yes
Language Pre-requisite: none Minimum GPA: 3.0
Class Level Required for Admission: Second-semester Sophomore standing Click here for a definition of this term Non-AU Students Accepted by AU: No
Language of Instruction: English Language Courses Offered: No
Housing: Dormitory Internship: No
Click here for a definition of this term Program Type: Not Direct Enrollment
Program Description:

Is This Program Right For You?A student walking in the Turkana Landscape

AU Abroad is pleased to offer a unique opportunity for students to study at the Turkana Basin Institute.  For the fit and adventuresome, this program offers you the experience of remote desert locations in rural northwest Kenya near Lake Turkana.  It offers the opportunity to study archaeology and environmental science in the cradle of civilization.  Learn about the groundbreaking studies in Paleo Anthropology of world renowned anthropologists including Richard and Maeve Leakey.  The desert environment of Turkana affords you the unique opportunity to study a million years of human and geologic history up close.  This program is ten weeks long in two different sites and is worth 15 credits.  A video showing the academic and physical environment of the program can be found here.

About Turkana Basin Institute (TBI)

The Turkana Basin Institute (TBI) is a privately funded, non-profit initiative, founded by Richard Leakey and Stony Brook University. It is a collaborative, international, multi-disciplinary enterprise that seeks to facilitate fieldwork within the Lake Turkana Basin by providing logistical support to researchers. The primary research focus is human prehistory and related earth and natural science studies. As the most important repository of fossil evidence for human evolution, a major commitment of TBI is to safeguard the extensive fossil deposits in the region through engagement with the local communities.


Because of the unique nature and locations of this program, the course offerings are delivered in a compact 10-week program.  Instruction for each of the courses will take place in six, three credit, 12-hour days for two weeks for each course, for a total of ten weeks.  The course offerings include:

Geology of the Turkana Basin
Ecology of the Turkana Basin
Vertibrate Paleontology and Paleoecology of the Turkana Basin
Human Evolution

Course descriptions can be found here.

Classes are taught by renowned experts in their fields. Past instructors have included William Anyonge, Rene Bobé, Raymonde Bonnefille, Doug Boyer, Alison Brooks, Craig Feibel, Mikael Fortelius, Fred Grine, Sonia Harmand, Lisa Hildebrand, Bonnie Jacobs, Louis Jacobs, Cara Johnson, Bill Kimbel, Richard and Meave Leakey, Chris Lepre, Fredrick Manthi, Dino Martins, Hélène Roche, Matt Skinner, and Bernard Wood.

TBI Students looking at Rocks

Through the Field School students will:
  •     Learn about field transects & landscape mapping
  •     Compare of modern and prehistoric flora and fauna
  •     Experience  fossil prospecting, identification, and taphonomy
  •     Learn techniques of paleoenvironmental reconstruction
  •     Receive Practical training in archaeological and paleontological survey and excavation techniques
  •     Participate in field trips to important paleontological and archaeological sites, diverse ecological settings, and remarkable geological features throughout the Turkana Basin
  •     Participate in labs and lectures covering the latest topics and most current research in the Turkana Basin
  •     Attend presentations on important human prehistory discoveries by senior paleoanthropologists
Photo galleries showing what residents of TBI do can be found here.

A statement about safety in Turkana and maps of the region are shown here.


AU Abroad offers several merit based Mobility Awards every semester ranging from $250 to $2500.  Students need who are interested in applying for the Mobility Award need to do so seperately from the TBI application.  TBI also offers their own list of scholarship resources for students.

Student LifeA photo of a TBI Dormitory

All participants will live in dormitories that are modest but fully equipped.  Students will have the option to sleep in the open air veranda, or in walled sleeping quarters.  All meals are included and are prepared at camp.  Students will have the opportunity to learn about local people and visit important sites in the region.  Because of the remote nature of location, internet and cell phone access are limited, and entertainment is heavily dependent on how resourceful each student is.

The Field School Blog can provide further insight into what to prepare for in such an exceptional location.

Visa Regulations

Any visitor to Kenya has to apply for a visa before arrival.  Please look at requirements for the visa here.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2018 03/08/2018
Varies by program 09/05/2018 11/22/2018
NOTE: Program dates are tentative. Final dates will be confirmed upon acceptance into the program.
Spring 2019 10/01/2018
Varies by program 01/17/2019 04/03/2019
NOTE: Program dates are estimates. Do not finalize travel arrangements until exact dates are given by program.
Fall 2019 03/08/2019 ** Varies by program 09/05/2019 11/22/2019
NOTE: Program dates are tentative. Final dates will be confirmed upon acceptance into the program. Do not finalize travel arrangements until exact dates are given by the program.

** The time it takes to receive an admissions decision varies greatly by program; it can take as little as two weeks or as long as several months. Contact AU Abroad for further details on your program's admissions timeline.

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