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SIT Study Abroad Nepal: Borders, Identity & Community Resilience
Kathmandu, Nepal (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Fall
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This program is currently not accepting applications.
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Program Sponsor: SIT/World Learning 
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Minimum GPA: 2.5 Fields of Studies: Anthropology, Communications, Economics, Education, Environmental Studies, Geography, Health Sciences, History, International Relations, International Studies
Language of Instruction: English Experiential Learning: ITR Field Study, URI Affiliated Program
Class Standing: 2. Sophomore, 3. Junior, 4. Senior
Program Description:
Program Description:

Nepal: Borders, Identity & Community Resilience*

*This program has combined coursework from two previous programs in Nepal and will be offered for fall 2020 only.

Witness Nepal’s challenges negotiating tradition and modernity while balancing its neighbors India and China and analyze Tibetan and Himalayan politics and religion.

This transdisciplinary program will explore the critical global issues of Identity and Human Resilience and Development and Inequality, in the Nepalese context. Your program starts online with discussions, assignments, and readings designed to equip you for immersion and hands-on learning. Tackle critical global issues through lectures and writings, while starting Nepali or Tibetan language lessons. In Kathmandu, live with Nepali and/or Tibetan-speaking homestay families, build lifelong connections, and get involved in society. Study identity, borders, and humans’ relationship with the state and speak with activists to understand their struggles for equal rights, recognition, and justice. Visit highland and “middle-hill” rural communities and engage with locals to discover how they are working toward community development and environmental protection. Confront issues of power relations while staying in a Tibetan refugee camp. Trek in the high Himalayas as a guest of Tibetan[-oid] communities. Traverse a vertical slice of the country from Lumbini, at sea level in the southern plains on the Indian border, to the highest gorge in the world on the edge of the Chinese border, exploring and analyzing Nepal’s remarkable biological, geological, and cultural diversity. Prepared with essential language and research skills, conduct original fieldwork on a topic of your choice during the final four weeks of the semester.

Program Highlights

  • Explore changing gender and social justice rights from notable regional experts and local activists.
  • Examine Tibetan and Himalayan society, geopolitics, religion, and arts, and visit remote communities on high-altitude treks.
  • Live with a host family in Kathmandu; learn the Tibetan language and/or Nepali.
  • Traverse Nepal, south to north, from India to Tibet and China, from sea level to the roof of the world.
Please visit the SIT Study Abroad website for details on the program courses (including syllabi), educational excursions, and housing.

Independent Study

Conducted in in Kathmandu or, conditions permitting and with program approval, in other parts of Nepal, and/or in Tibetan and Himalayan communities in Nepal. The Independent Study Project (ISP) is an opportunity for students to conduct first-hand, meaningful, and original field study projects. Sample topic areas include: ecotourism and its effect on wildlife management; geographies of development; preservation of temple architecture and heritage sites; water scarcity in Kathmandu valley; statelessness and discourse on citizenship; community forestry; migration and population issues; rural development and aid; and women’s health challenges; the politics of language and education in Tibetan communities; reflections from former political prisoners; youth identity in the Tibetan diaspora; traditional Tibetan medicine; the reemergence of the Bön tradition; Tibetan Muslims; the economics of the Tibetan carpet industry in Nepal; the economy of Sherpas and mountaineering tourism; a case study of a traditional Buddhist college; nuns and Tibetan female mystics; the changing status of women in Buddhist monastic life; migration and Tibetan exile settlements.
A large number of students have gone on to use their ISPs as the basis for further research under Fulbright fellowships in Nepal or in securing professional positions with NGOs, the State Department, and the United Nations.
Sample ISP topic areas:
  • Rural development and aid
  • Community forestry
  • Changing food geographies and agricultural practices
  • The emergence of a middle-class society
  • Emerging dating and marriage patterns in urban Newari youth
  • Remittance economies and development
  • Women’s health challenges and roles in development
  • Gender equity and rights
  • Changing status of women in Buddhist monastic life
  • Mapping street children in Kathmandu
  • Squatter communities and land access in Kathmandu
  • Human rights in post-conflict situations
  • Humanitarian aid and post-earthquake reconstruction efforts
  • Preservation of world heritage sites
  • Monastic universities for secular students from abroad: the case of Chinese and Korean disciples
  • Buddhism as a “science of mind and mental transformation” meets neuroscience and cognitive psychology
  • Options for Tibetan Muslims in exile
  • Climate change and cultural adaptation in the Himalaya
  • Economy of Sherpas and mountaineering tourism
  • Sherpa mountaineering encounters with the World Wildlife Fund

Key Topics of Study

  • Clime change and environmental concerns in the Himalayas
  • Caste, class, gender, and religion in Nepal
  • Redefining development, social capital, and civil society
  • Ethnicity, nationhood, and social and political change
  • Complexities of Nepalese, Tibetan, and Himalayan border tensions between India and China
  • Traditional Tibetan and Himalayan civilizations, politics and Buddhist history, and urgent issues of exile

Contact SIT Study Abroad

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Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
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