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TBI - Origins Field School

  • Details and Cost

    About the Program

    This field school, offered during both Fall and Spring semesters, is designed for students with an interest in Africa, science, and the essence of what makes us human. The Turkana Basin region, made famous over the past five decades through the work of Richard, Meave and Louise Leakey, has produced much of the world's most important fossil and archaeological evidence for human evolution. Our program addresses the place that humans occupy in the natural world and how they came to occupy that place. It offers eighteen upper-division or graduate credits in geology, ecology, vertebrate paleontology and paleoecology, human evolution, archaeology and culture.

    Location Turkwel, Kenya
    Program Type Faculty-Led Program
    Program Term Fall, Spring
    Program Dates Fall 2022: September 7th - November 23rd

    Spring 2023 January 18th - April 2nd
    Language of Instruction English
    Budget View Budget
    Living Arrangements

    The Origins Semester Field School program is based at TBI’s Ileret and Turkwel campuses, built respectively on the east and west sides of beautiful Lake Turkana. Students live in comfortable, safe, dormitory-style quarters. Clean water, showers, flushing toilets and electricity are provided, as are mosquito nets, towels and bedding. Internet and cell phone service is available. 

    Meals served are fresh and varied, and very healthy. Vegetarian options are made available.

    The Ileret campus is situated on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana, and provides access to the fossil collection areas where Richard and Meave Leakey launched their groundbreaking hominin research in the 1960s and 70s. In this region live the pastoral Dassanatch people, often seen herding their goats around the lake, who are employed locally as lab technicians and essential camp staff.

    The Turkwel campus is located southwest of the lake, overlooking the picturesque Turkwel River, and is a relatively short drive away from important fossil and archaeological sites such as Lothagam, South Turkwel, and Nariokotome, where the famous Turkana Boy skeleton was discovered. This is the land of the Turkana people, after whom the lake was named. Like the Dassanatch, they are seen regularly herding their camels nearby, and are indispensable around camp as skilled specialists and support staff.
    Additional Information Faculty-Led study abroad programs may require group travel. Please reach out to your IAP Coordinator prior to making any travel arrangements.
    Program Housing Statement: Stony Brook University is required to comply with the housing policies of the host country, partner institution and/or hotel/hostel. These policies may include requirements such as sex-based housing placement.


    GPA 2.0 GPA or higher
    Other Requirements
    Rutgers University, University College London and American University students are required to apply using this link. 

    The Turkana Basin Institute has developed partnerships with these institutions to provide their students unique experiences in Kenya. Please contact the Program Director for more details.

    Application Deadline

    Spring: November 1

    Fall: July 1

    Deadline extensions are posted at the top of this page.

    Students are encouraged to apply early as applicants are accepted on a rolling basis.

    Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis, and are encouraged to apply as early as possible.
    Candidates may be interviewed to determine their qualifications for participating and representing Stony Brook University abroad.

    Student Feedback

    “Take advantage of every opportunity you can through this program, the professors are amazing, the landscape and surrounding deposits are some of the best in the world” -  Participant, Spring 2011 Semester

    “Enjoy the delicious food, the lectures, movie nights, fossil hunting sessions and camping nights. The field school ends so soon.” -  Participant, Fall 2016 Semester'

    “Even if it's going to be really hot and intense, it will be one of the best and enlightening experiences in your life.” -  Participant, Spring 2017 Semester

  • Academic Information

    Course Information

    • Ecology: Linking People and Nature (ANP 304/ANT 504) - Study the habitats of our early ancestors by examining analogous modern ecosystems.
    • Sedimentary Geology and Geochronology (GEO 303/504) - A survey of the sedimentation, stratigraphy, volcanism, and tectonics of the area, which will include training in field methods.
    • Earth & Life Through Time (ANP 305/ANT 505) - Glean information from vertebrate fossils about the appearance, evolution, and causes of extinction of major organisms.
    • Human Evolution (ANP 306/ANT 506) - Lectures by senior paleoanthropologists, laboratory exercises using casts of important finds, and field trips to discovery locations.
    • Prehistoric Archaeology of Africa (ANT 307/507) - Examine evidence for three million+ years of hominin technological adaptations aro
    • Immersion in Another Culture (ANT 311): This course is an opportunity to consider contemporary Kenya in detail while in the country.  Lectures, texts, and field excursions consider history, language, cultural systems, social change, and social arrangements toward providing students with a comprehensive understanding of another cultural system.  We will focus on the appreciation of Swahili culture in Kenya in its natural and historic settings.  Activities are designed to promote cultural sensitivity, enabling students to confront their own assumptions and cultural biases, and increase their intercultural communication competence.
    • Optional: Independent Study (ANP/ANT 487 or ANT 610)

    All participants following the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) can request GLO and EXP+ in addition to requirement(s) fulfilled by their coursework.

    Graduate courses are now available, please email for more information.

    For UAlbany cohort course evlauations click HERE.

    Academic Policies

    • Students must maintain full-time status while abroad
    • Credits earned on this program will calculate toward a student's GPA at Stony Brook University. Non-SBU students are advised to check their home university policy on grade and credit transfer.
    • Students following the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) may request for GLO and EXP+ in addition to requirements fulfilled by their coursework.

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