Collaborative Research

MERC and our partners have developed a collaborative approach to research intended to benefit scholars and scientists, the Maasai community, the wildlife and habitat in the Maasai Mara Serengeti Ecosystem, and the global community to whom we are all ultimately accountable. Researchers working with MERC are required to respect Dopoi Center protocols which include bringing back any published research to the community in agreed upon form.

Prescott College class on wildlife conservation, 2016.

The Problem of Research in Maasailand

As is true in many indigenous communities, “research” in Maasailand is often considered to be, in the words of Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith, a “dirty word.” Very little trust exists for researchers themselves, and especially for large scale research projects which are assumed to exist solely for the benefit of researchers and may exploit and misrepresent local knowledge. Today in spite of this troubled past it is clear that research is sorely needed and desired in Maasailand.

Prescott College students conduct oral interviews with residents of Olgulului Group Ranch, 2006.

MERC’s Research Model

MERC creates opportunities for researchers and scholars to work with Maasai community members, political leadership, Non-governmental organizations, and any others who share the goal of generating and applying knowledge to support sustainable futures in Maasailand under the stewardship of the Maasai community.


Kaitlin Noss presents research on the history of Amboseli National Park to Kenyan media, 2006.

Research Partnerships

MERC has worked with Prescott College since 2005 to develop this model of collaborative research. Since 2017 we have expanded this relationship to include the Engineering program and Barrett Honors College at ASU.