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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, open to all majors. It runs through Block 2 with a two-week field course module in East Africa over the winter break (January). The specific dates are still to be determined. There will be a tuition fee for the field module. An information session will be organized in Block 4 of 2018-2019. The course will count for Global Citizenship credits.
Selection is by application.


Deadline: July 31, 2019
Provide the following:

  1. Letter of motivation in which you 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.
  2. Your CV
  3. Your transcript (print screen from Usis is fine)

Submit all documents via email to:


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 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 course on searching for sustainable livelihoods teaches students about the challenges and opportunities of pursuing interdisciplinary research. Students will learn that complex and dynamic livelihood systems can best be understood by combining knowledge from different disciplines and fields of study as well as employing different methodological approaches and techniques.
The course is team taught by instructors with different disciplinary backgrounds and specializations. They work together to demonstrate how such collaboration can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the conditions, contexts, strategies, and outcomes of efforts toward sustainable livelihoods.
The course emphasizes practical knowledge and learning in real world settings. In both sites in The Netherlands and East Africa, classroom type seminars with reading will be 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, survey design, interviewing, 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 learn to identify and analyze the challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinary research and engagement

  • Students will learn to identify and analyze the ethical challenges and value of pursuing cross-cultural and cross-regional research and engagement

  • Students will learn to approach sustainable livelihoods from an interdisciplinary systems perspective

  • Students will learn about different methods used to better understand complex livelihood systems and the value of mixed-method approaches

  • Students will gain regional knowledge on the environmental, economic, political, and socio-cultural landscape in which people in East Africa are searching for sustainable livelihoods

  • Students will engage in practical, hands-on learning in real-world settings on current challenges and opportunities related to sustainable livelihoods.

  • Students learn and apply key methodological approaches and techniques commonly used in field work. For example, they will learn how to conduct semi-structured interviews, field observations, journaling, and biodiversity quantification.

  • Students will be trained in group work, including collaborating in research and project work, communicating cross-culturally, and pursuing field work together.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

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.
    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.


Final field report: 25% (Pass/Fail)
Participation: 15% (Graded)
Assignments: 4x15% (Graded)


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 Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Interested students should contact the following instructor:

  • Caroline Archambault