Examine Tibetan and Himalayan history and culture, Buddhism, and the pressing contemporary issues facing communities in exile, particularly in the case of Tibet.
Through thematic lectures and field work, students explore issues of cultural preservation, religious revival, and sub-regional geopolitics and are challenged to consider the contemporary and historic linkages connecting different Himalayan communities. Questions of self-identification and recognition, as well as issues of diaspora, exile, and migration, are important topics for analysis in this program.
From the program base in Nepal, students gain access to a rich array of academic resources throughout the Kathmandu Valley and beyond, learning from prominent Tibetan and Newar Buddhist scholars, as well as regional, ethnic (Sherpa and Tamang), and community experts.
In-country resources include:
Personnel of former refugee schools
Traditional Tibetan medicine clinics
Regional Himalayan branches of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other NGOs
Political organizations of Himalayan ethnic groups
Time outside the program base, on excursion to Tibetan settlements in India and/or the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China (conditions permitting), is a major component of the program. Excursions enhance understanding of Tibetan and Himalayan cultural traditions and the recent refugee and exile experience, from a range of vantage points and perspectives.
Meaningful cultural immersion in the local context is facilitated by Tibetan language instruction and a six week homestay in Kathmandu with a Tibetan or Sherpa family.