About the Course

This four-week field program is based in Rwanda, Africa, one of Central-East Africa’s most progressive countries and home to several species of monkeys and apes, including the famed mountain gorilla. Students will go on adventure treks to observe gorilla families and golden monkeys on the slopes of the extinct Virunga volcanoes, follow groups of chimpanzees, black and white colobus and guenon monkeys in an afro-alpine jungle, and go on Safari to watch wildlife and study troops of baboons and vervet monkeys in a savanna setting. The aims of this intensive field immersion are threefold:

                                    1. PRIMATE SOCIOECOLOGY: To experience and understand the dynamics of primate social relationships (e.g., family systems, mothering styles, adolescence, and fathering), and their connection to social systems and local ecology;

                                    2. FIELD METHODS: To learn how a variety of quantitative field observation techniques and data gathering tools are used to describe and analyze social interactions, social systems, and environmental features;

                                    3. GLOBAL ADVENTURE: To gain global competency by experiencing and adapting to the novel challenges of travel and work in a foreign culture and landscape, and often in remote, physically demanding field locations.

This course promotes a strong interdisciplinary and comparative approach to primate social behavior, family systems, ecology and conservation, combining perspectives from evolutionary biology, psychology, anthropology, and human development. It is a unique program developed by the University of Arizona's Fathers, Parenting, and Families Initiative of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, & Families.

The course is also open to students from other universities and from a wide array of disciplines, as well as more generally to all students who wish to benefit from an overseas first-hand encounter with the world’s most magnificent primate species in rare ecosystems, and the dynamic cultures of Rwanda.

This 6 credit course can be taken in either Family Studies, Anthropology, or Psychology. Credit may also be available from a variety of other UA departments. Click here for specific information about course credit.


Rwanda is an ideal location for a Primate-focused field course. View the GALLERY to see the

9+ primate species

that can be observed within Rwanda's national parks and forest preserves.

Other Field Schools

Based on our research, there are very few primate studies field schools. Those few field schools that include primates at all focus on primate conservation. NONE offer the combination of interdisciplinary approach to primate social behavior and unique experiences that we offer.

- 10 or fewer primate-focused field courses

- 2 course offered in Africa

- 1 encourages interdisciplinary approach to primate social behavior

- 0 focused on comparative primate socioecology

- 0 encounter as many primate species for comparison

- 0 experience as many different ecological settings