Earth Expeditions
Elegant cheetah, close up
Silhouette of elephant’s head
Male lion, mouth agape, alongside a female
Moonrise over Waterburg Plateau
Students conduct inquiry about termite mounds

Course Overview

Experience ongoing research projects such as radio tracking, cheetah physiology, ecosystem management, and the design of school and community programs.

Travel to Namibia, Africa, with Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Miami University instructors to join the Zoo's long-term partnership with the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)--the global center of cheetah conservation worldwide. This course is primarily based at CCF headquarters and explores how conservation organizations can succeed while partnering with local communities to save wildlife. Ongoing research projects at CCF include radio tracking, cheetah physiology, ecosystem management, and the design of school and community programs in Namibia. Discover the power of inquiry to generate knowledge and inspire conservation. All students will have the chance to conduct an inquiry investigation of the local ecosystem, asking their own questions, collecting data, and presenting conclusions. Students may also participate in CCF field research including species behavioral studies, waterhole surveys, and full or new moon game counts. 

Prior to and following the field experience in Namibia, students will complete coursework via Dragonfly Workshops' Web-Based Learning Community as they apply experiences to their home institutions and communities.

Course Themes

  • Introduction to the ecosystems of Namibia
  • Cheetah biology, ecology, and conservation
  • Ecology of top predators, particularly large cats
  • Community-based environmental education and action including understanding wildlife-friendly farming practices
  • Curricular development and educational leadership
  • Land use and conservancy management
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Participatory education

A typical Earth Expeditions day in Namibia is likely to include:

  • Learning directly from CCF staff on program initiatives, operations, and field research methods
  • Visits to field conservation sites
  • Lectures from CCF staff, guest experts, and course facilitators
  • Student-led discussions of key course topics
  • Engagement with local communities
  • Open inquiries
  • Journal writing


Namibia is located on the West Coast of southern Africa. It is a large country with a fascinating blend of African cultures and a modern infrastructure. The country gained its independence in 1990 and has a progressive constitution that provides for a democratic, secular state. Known for its dramatic environments, Namibia's shifting sand dunes, fog-shrouded coasts, and grasslands remain a sanctuary for African wildlife.

"In all my life of conservation education, work with animals, field courses, and just being outside in nature, I have never been so moved by an experience. It was a spiritual moment -- one I will never forget for the rest of my life."

- James O., Sidney, Ohio

Planned Sites in Namibia

Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)

Most of the course will take place at or around the Cheetah Conservation Fund headquarters located in the bushveld ecosystem of North Central Namibia -- in the heart of cheetah territory. Under the leadership of Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF maintains a modern Research Center housing research facilities and a veterinary clinic, an Education Center, and a Visitor's Center.

Etosha National Park

We will visit Etosha National Park, one of the world's greatest wildlife-viewing locations, home to elephants, giraffes, zebras, springboks, elands, hyenas, lions, cheetahs, leopards, ostriches, and many other species.

(Course locations are subject to change.)

Dragonfly Workshops Web-Based Learning Community

Upon acceptance into the program, students will join instructors and classmates in Dragonfly Workshops' collaborative Web community to complete pre-trip assignments. After returning home, students will continue to work in their Web-based community through early December to develop projects initiated in the field, discuss assignments, and exchange ideas. All students should expect to spend two to three hours a week contributing to their Web-Based Learning Community from their home or school computer. Navigating the Web platform is easy--it's designed for people with no prior computer experience. To learn more about this unique Web experience, visit

More Information

For more information on the admissions process, physical requirements, and more, please visit Admissions and/or FAQs.

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Course Details

Notes from the Field

Earth Expeditions, Namibia

Connecting to land and sky, Namibia

James Maloney

Environmental Educator from Langhorne, Pennsylvania

"My experience in these Miami University courses has been nothing but extraordinary. I have grown so much as a person through my field courses in Belize, Peru, and Namibia. After returning from the field, my research on topics from predator foraging success to the negative effects of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid on northeastern trees has broadened my personal knowledge base. And in my profession, my experiences can directly translate to more authentic learning moments for my students."

Program Costs