CAC 2019:  Project Tiger

You are invited to join a select group of Canisius students to address the following questions: 

What is the relationship between tigers and humans in the 21st century?     And what should it be?

This will be a two-credit experiential course that will involve

  • travel to observe wildlife in India during January 2019. 

  • participation throughout the Spring 19 semester in a video production that will document this project.


The tiger -- the magnificent predator that sits at the top of the food chain in Asia -- can be viewed as a quintessential symbol of wildlife on earth.  To us, it embodies power and beauty.  We admire the ferocity that it displays with its prey, and we admire the tenderness that it displays with its babies.  No other species draws the respect and admiration of people as much as it does. 

At present it is estimated that there are only three to four thousand tigers remaining in the wild.  Only three to four thousand!  And because their natural range overlaps with the geographical areas with the most dense human populations, the challenges impacting their conservation cannot be overstated. 


By contrast, it is estimated that there are now more than ten thousand tigers held in captivity, most of them in the hands of private individuals.  Incredibly, there are twice as many tigers held as pets by wealthy people than there are tigers living in natural conditions! 

And of course there are zoos.  Some are highly professional institutions that strive to serve as agents of positive change.  They try to keep their animals in the best possible conditions, and they promote tiger conservation via extensive educational programs.   But other zoos quite honestly exploit tigers by taking advantage of people's strong desire to be close to this species.  Some even go so far as drugging their animals so that paying customers can pose for photos. 


But there is more to this story.  There is now a nearly universal interest in tiger conservation across the globe.  People everywhere pay attention to news about tigers, and are interested in their conservation and welfare. 

And that brings us to the issues that CAC will tackle this year. 


In January 2019, the CAC team will travel to India in order to visit national parks that strive to maintain healthy populations of wild tigers.  There, the students will also witness first hand the pressures that impact these parks from the growing human pollutions.    Following that, the project will include short field trips within the US to explore the status of captive tigers.  Through this process, the students will work with Dr Noonan to produce a video program that will explore

  • the status of tigers in the wild

  • the efforts by zoos to preserve tigers

  • the conditions of tigers held in private hands

  • the efforts by "sanctuaries" to cope with surplus tigers

Throughout this time, six things will be expected of the student participants:

  1. First and foremost, the students will play roles in a film  that will convey the complex issues related to tiger conservation and human-tiger interactions.  The studentsí own struggle with the issues, and their first-hand experiences, will be the story of the film. 

  2. The students will participate in the group study of tiger ecosystems in India.  This will involve two weeks of travel (from 28 December 2018 to 13 January 2019). 

  3. The students will participate in five separate day trips to tiger facilities within the US.  These trips will occur over weekends during the Spring 19 semester (exact dates to be determined).

  4. Each student will be expected to master the complex issues involved in this topic.  This will involve academic assignments and exams that will take place during once-weekly meetings throughout the Spring-19 semester. 

  5. The students will collectively advocate for a progressive approach to the issue via a significant position paper that will be due at the end of the semester.  

  6.  In addition, each student will make a presentation on this topic to a live audience of school children. 


Each on-screen participant will contribute $2000.  The CAC program will cover the additional costs. 

Those payments will include both the India travel (including the costs of visas), and the subsequent day trips.   

In addition to the $2000 payment described above, each student will be expected to also cover any expenditures associated with obtaining his/her own passport, any elective immunizations, and any necessary clothing.  


Application to participate in Project Tiger is open to students of any academic year, and of any major. 

A total of six students will be selected to serve with Dr Noonan as the characters in the Project Tiger film.  When considering applicants, the following traits will be important: 

  • an ability to speak well on camera

  • an infectious personality that will animate the video content

  • a serious commitment to wildlife conservation 

  • a record of academic excellence

  • excellent writing skills 

The selection process will involve: 

  1. Written application.  This will convey the studentís background, writing skills, and motivation.  It will also be an opportunity to show an understanding of how to engage others on the topic of conservation. 

  2. Live tryout.  This will give each student a chance to show his/her ability to speak effectively on-camera, and to function in a dynamic group setting. 


To apply to be a member of the Project Tiger team, complete the following application no later than 28 Sep 2018:


A personal note to students from DR NOONAN

Please do not be intimidated by the selection process.  Rather, if this project sounds like it was meant for you, then please be inspired to step up to the challenge. 

When considering applicants, I will not care if you are a freshman or a senior, whether you are tall or short, or about anything else other than whether you want to work on this project as much as I do.  You do not have to perfect.  You just have to show that you are enthusiastic and thoroughly committed to making a difference in the world. 

Cheers, DrN


THe CAC Program

As additional background, an overview of the CAC program can be obtained at the following two web pages:


In addition to the six CAC students described above, two additional students will be selected to serve as the behind-the-camera team.  With Dr Noonan they will be the videographers and editors of the film.  The cost for each video team member will be $1000.  The CAC program will cover the other travel costs.  (Because these positions will require intent focus on the video production, these two students will not be involved with the 2-credit academic content of this project.) 

When considering applicants, the following traits will be important: 

  • past experience in video production

  • demonstrable skill with videography (camera skills)

  • proficiency with the process of digital video editing

The selection process will involve: 

  1. Portfolio Review:  This will involve a review of the studentís past video experience and productions.

  2. In-person Interview.  This will be an opportunity to discuss project goals and the ways to contribute. 

  3. Live tryout.  This will give each student a chance to demonstrate his/her ability to work with video cameras, and/or with video editing software. 

To apply to be a member of the Project Tiger Video Team, please assemble a resume that emphasizes your video-related skills and experiences.  Send this to Dr Noonan as a PDF file no later than 28 Sep 2018.  Then make an appointment with Dr Noonan for an in-person interview.  


Contact Info: Michael Noonan, PhD, Canisius College , 2001 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14208