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  • Locations: Nairobi, Kenya; Nanyuki, Kenya
  • Program Terms: January
  • Restrictions: UVA applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: January
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Description:
Giraffes in Kenya

UVA in Kenya: Conservation Finance


We’re in a world of hurt.  According to the United Nation’s recently-released IPCC report on global climate change, we have scarcely a dozen years to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5?C.  Failing to meet this target – by even half a degree – will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. (UN IPCC, 2018).  Meanwhile, global wildlife populations have fallen by 60% in just over four decades, the result of accelerating pollution, deforestation, wetlands conversion and yes, climate change (WWF, 2018).  We are facing unprecedented threats to Earth’s biodiversity and natural resources.  We must do more to address these challenges, now.

One major challenge to the better conservation of nature is the lack of available funding. It’s estimated that $300–400 billion of annual funding is needed to preserve healthy ecosystems – an amount 6-8 times larger than what’s currently being allocated by (mostly) governments, foundations and international agencies.  

Fortunately, we’re seeing an increase in capital committed to conservation efforts. Conservation finance  – crafting financial agreements to benefit both nature and investors – is an exciting new field which holds significant promise for addressing our current conservation crisis.

 Africa is a particularly compelling location to study conservation challenges as it is home to large numbers of threatened species and vast habitats worthy of protection.  Many exciting conservation finance programs already exist on the continent, but there is a need for many, many more.

This January term course includes time at a 58,000-acre wildlife conservancy in central Kenya. With a wildlife rescue center, a conservation education program and strong leadership dedicated to the preservation and improvement of natural capital, it’s an ideal venue for students to learn about and ideate ways of addressing real-world conservation challenges.


Announcements IconAnnouncements

Interviews with the Program Director are encouraged. Contact Professor Mark White at to schedule an interview.

Location IconLocation

After a few days in Nairobi, Kenya's capital city, visiting with leaders in the field of conservation finance, students will travel to a conservancy where they will engage with conservancy staff to identify, evaluate and imagine project needs and funding sources.  

Zebra in Kenya Maasai in Kenya

Courses IconCourses

Conservation Finance (draft syllabus)
COMM 4589; 3 credits
GSVS 4559; 3 credits

Course Objectives
The following specific learning goals will be addressed in this course:

  • Understand the challenges facing wildlife conservation efforts in Africa (as an example for the rest of the world)?
    • Ecological challenges
    • Social challenges
    • Economic challenges
    • Political challenges
  • Advise ways to address these challenges (by adapting/amending existing models or imagining new methods)
  • Present results to stakeholders; respond to questions/defend arguments

The combination of experienced University faculty, lectures by well-respected practitioners, on-site visits to international organizations and the unique natural assets of central Kenya contribute to a unique, purposeful and well-developed intellectual experience for students and faculty alike.

The course is open to all majors in the University, with preference given to upper-level Commerce, Environmental Science, and Global Studies: Environments & Sustainability students. Interviews with the Program Director are encouraged; contact Professor Mark White to schedule an interview.

Information about all McIntire School of Commerce Global Programs can be found here

Faculty IconFaculty

Dr. Mark White |

Associate Professor of Commerce and Director of the McIntire Business Institute, Professor White’s academic expertise lies in the areas of corporate finance and sustainable business practices. Professor White believes an international experience is a “must” for a well-rounded education and  has led study-abroad programs to more than 30 countries over the past 20 years.

Accommodation and MealsAccommodation and Meals

Students will stay in shared accommodation with most meals included throughout the program. In Nairobi, participants will be housed in a centrally-located hotel. At the conservancy, the group will stay in shared houses or tents.

Cost and Financial Aid

The program cost and payment schedule are listed under the "Budget Sheets" link at the top of this page. Students with identifiable financial need are encouraged to apply for fellowships, scholarships, and financial aid.

Elephant in Kenya

Accessibility IconAccessibility

The University of Virginia believes in providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities on an individual and flexible basis. This program will include substantial time spent walking or standing. If you believe that you would require adjustments in order to fully participate in this program, please contact the Student Disability Access Center at 434-243-5180 as early as possible in order to begin this dialogue.


Passport IconPassport and Visa

All participants will need a valid passport in order to participate in the program. Students must ensure that their passport is valid at least six months past the program return date. US passport holders and students of many other nationalities will need a visa to enter Kenya.  International students should consult for visa and entry requirements, and meet with their International Student Advisor in the International Studies Office for information about re-entering the U.S. at the conclusion of the program.


Health Info IconHealth and Safety Information

Travelers should have documentation of yellow fever vaccination to enter Kenya. There are also additional recommended immunizations and medications for travelers to Kenya. For more information about the yellow fever vaccine and other vaccines/medications, check out the CDC website: Supply permitting, the ISO will set up a clinic on Grounds to facilitate receipt of the vaccine.

All students considering Education Abroad should consult the Students Abroad section of the U.S. Department of State’s web-based travel resources and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler’s Health web resources to research health, safety, and security conditions; visa requirements; immunization requirements; and recommendations on staying healthy and safe in their target destination(s). Students should also carefully review the UVA Education Abroad Health & Safety Abroad web page. Parents and guardians are strongly advised to review all of these resources, as well. UVA students and visiting students enrolled in UVA Education Abroad programs are subject to the University of Virginia’s Policy on Student International Travel.

This program is currently not accepting applications.