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Searching for Sustainable Livelihoods: Field Course in East Africa and The Netherlands




Admissions requirements

The course is a 10 ECTS 200-level course. It runs through Block 2 with a two-week field course module in East Africa over the winter break. The specific dates are still to be determined. There will be tuition fee for the field module. An information session will be organized in Block 4 of 2016-2017.
The course will count for Global Citizenship credits


  • Statistics

  • at least 1 100-level course in EES, GPH, or GED

Selection is by application. Briefly (max 1 page 1.5 spaced) explain your interest in the course, how it fits into your study plan, and what experience you have that you think help prepare you for this field course.


Across the globe humans face the challenge of building successful livelihoods, ones that not only bring them financial security and stability, but enhance their capabilities and provide them with other important aspects of well-being, be it good health, happiness, identity, and/or belonging. Such pursuits are arguably taking place in increasingly more complex, dynamic, inter-connected and challenging environments. Population pressure, climate change, resource depletion, are only some of the forces pushing us to find innovative ways to adapt to changing ecologies, enhance livelihood resilience, and ensure a continued productive and healthy resource base.In the Netherlands, for example, intensive food farmers in Limburg are trying to find ways to make space for nature and the renewal of biodiversity. In what may seem worlds away, Kenyan and Tanzanian Maasai try to accommodate wildlife and tourism without sacrificing resources for their livestock, central to their food security and health.

This cross-continent comparative and interdisciplinary field course investigates challenges related to sustainable livelihoods, with a focus on issues related to the environment, public health, social/cultural life, and development.

Faculty from GED, EES, and GPH will work together to team-teach on the intersection of their respective disciplines, demonstrating how such collaboration can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the conditions, contexts, strategies, and outcomes of efforts toward sustainable livelihoods. The comparative experience (NL and East Africa) will not only provide important variation and contrast but will also shed light on the inter-linkages and the circumstances under which sustainable livelihoods require some kind of international, cross-regional collaboration or cooperation. Both in The Netherlands and East Africa, the course emphasizes practical knowledge and learning in real world settings. In both sites, classroom type seminars with reading will be importantly complemented with hands-on learning, field visits, and guest speakers.

From the perspective of methodology, students will learn methodological approaches and specific field-based research techniques from anthropology, environmental science, public health, and development studies. Examples include but are not limited to transect walks, biodiversity counts, nutritional assessments, survey design, interviewing techniques and observations, journal writing, and participant observation. The course will highlight the value of mixed method approaches and will prepare students for working in interdisciplinary teams and in cross-cultural settings.

Course objectives


  • Students will practice identifying and analyzing challenges and opportunities related to sustainable livelihoods from an interdisciplinary perspective;

  • Students will develop the analytical and practical skills to conduct cross-cultural and cross-continental comparative analyses;

  • Students will gain practical, hands-on knowledge in real-world settings on current challenges and opportunities related to sustainable livelihoods. Specifically, they will learn how to conduct semi-structured interviews, field observations, keeping a research dairy, biodiversity quantification, measuring health parameters.


  • Students learn and apply key methodological approaches and techniques commonly used in field work;

  • Students will learn the importance of mixed-method approaches and apply these methods to analyze complex challenges which exist on the interface between different disciplines;

  • Students are trained in group work, including cross-cultural competencies and the ethical dimensions of conducting field work. This means students will be able to collective work on an interdisciplinary research topic, and to identify which methods from different disciplines can be used to further understand the issue.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The Netherlands (block 2):

  • Seminars prior to the field trip are organized in block 2.

  • Fieldwork is an important part of this course to master practical skills. The fieldwork will be conducted during class time and in weekends. Most likely there will be one weekend when we will go on an extensive field trip.

East-Africa (Winterbreak):

  • Two weeks of an intensive field module in East-Africa, in tents, which will comprise of classroom-type seminars, field-trips and project work.

  • Comparative projects on sustainable livelihoods will be conducted, connecting and comparing experiences from the Netherlands to East-Africa.


Final report: 25%
Participation: 15%
Assignments: 4x15%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Will be provided prior and during the course on an ongoing basis.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Interested students should contact the following instructors:

  • Thijs Bosker:

  • David Ehrhardt:

  • Caroline Archambault

  • Jessica Kiefte: