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Two Rivers, Two Geographies, Two Peoples, and Two Cultures

Environment and Society Himalayan Study Abroad Program: Summer 2009

We are back from Kathmandu!!!

Report: Himalayan Study Abroad Program: At the Top of the World
May 24th – June 6th, 2009

A Collaborative Study Abroad Program of the Nepal Study Center (NSC), Department of Economics, University of New Mexico (UNM), and Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal

We just finished our first HSAP 2009 program: May 24 - June 6th.

UNM Faculty: Professor Alok K. Bohara and Professor Jennifer Thacher, Department of Economics, University of New Mexico (UNM)

Students: Jamison Shekter, Kelly Williamson, Patrick Duff, Holly Buehler, and Kelsie Cano Atzberger

Acknowledgement: Center for Regional Studies (UNM), Vice President’s Office for Student Affairs (UNM), Jeffrey Drope of Marquette University (Teerlink Family Foundation), and Martin Ravin of Colorado for their financial contributions. The last two private contributions were used for the sustainable development projects in our model villages (e.g., smokeless stoves and briquette making and the rainwater harvesting project in a school, respectively)

We would also like to thank Kathmandu University (KU) and KU School of Management; Department of Economics (UNM), graduate students, and staff; Jawalakhel Rotary Club; Friends of Bagmati (FOB); Nick Simons Institute; Hotel Dwarikas; Patan Business and Professional Women (PBPW, Kiva-Nepal); International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD); National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC); Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FOST), and our Himalayan Study Abroad coordinator Sushila Adhikari (KU student) for their assistance and help.

The program had five basic elements: 1) academic lectures at Kathmandu University by experts and faculty (environment, water quality, eco-system, health, clean-up action plans, development, culture, history and politics), 2) field trips along the various phases of Bagmati river basin --upper, middle, and lower, 3) cultural exposure (world heritage sites and traditional village tours), 4) engagement in hands-on sustainable development projects --rain water harvesting (with Jawalkhel Rotary Club), smokeless stove (with FOST), and tele-microfinance (with Kiva-Nepal), and 5) UNM students’ interaction with KU students and other grass-roots organizations (e.g., FOB). At the end of the trip, students were required to submit a journal and a research paper. (For full report, go to the following link.)

Download Complete Report: Himalayan Study Abroad Program: At the Top of the World May 24 th – June 6 th, 2009
Himalayan Study Abroad Summer 2009 Trip Photos: click here
Kathmandu University Teaching Hospital (Bahunpati Village Health Post: international experience in community healthcare management) Photos: click here
Daily Program Schedule in Kathmandu: click here
Orientation One-page Flyer: click here

Program Organizers

Collaborating Partners

Department of Economics, University of New Mexico
Nepal Study Center, University of New Mexico
Kathmandu University, Nepal

and other contacts in Nepal

Summer 2009 faculty participants

Jennifer Thacher, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics,
Alok K. Bohara, Professor, Department of Economics,
and Others

Courses at UNM

Course requirements

• Economics 203/Community and Regional Planning 203 (Spring 2009: January 15- May 15)
• 2-week field Study in Nepal (May 24-June6)

Even though the primary course for this program is Economics 203 (Environment and Society), which is cross-listed as Community and Regional Planning 203, this program is open to students from other classes and disciplines who are interested in an interdisciplinary educational experience. Economics 203 has no pre-requisites. Limited seats could be made available for graduate students. Economics 203 will be offered in Spring 2009.

Space for the Nepal trip is limited, and although enrollment in Economics 203 is not required, preference will be given to students who are enrolled in the course. A separate 3-credit course --Econ 395: Himalayan Study Abroad-- allows students to earn 3 credits out of this summer international experience. All the reading preparation is done in the Spring Semester prior to departure to Kathmandu. At the end of the trip, students are required to submit a journal and a research paper.

Course content

Students will learn a basic understanding of environmental and natural resource issues and their impact on the society and the culture. These issues are addressed in the classroom lectures by comparing two river systems under two different geographic landscapes and cultural settings: the Rio Grande in New Mexico and the Bagmati River in Nepal. The program culminates in a field experience in Nepal to learn about the Bagmati River in Kathmandu valley.

This course will entail the classroom discussion surrounding the two river systems and their respective roles in the two communities. Numerous field trips in New Mexico bring issues surrounding the Rio Grande to life. Guest lectures and tours focus on pollution, biology, economics, health, and the cultural significance of the two rivers.

Independent Study Option

Upon return from Kathmandu , interested students will have an option to work out a plan with their professors to earn a 3-credit independent study on topics of their interest and field experience. Students choosing this option are strongly advised to make a prior-arrangement with their professors before leaving for Kathmandu .

Two-week Field Trip in Kathmandu

Environment and Society’s program features environmental and cultural classes, guest lectures, visits to the origin and the exit points of the Bagmati River in the valley, cultural and religious sites in Kathmandu, and nature hikes.

Students will also help build an eco-friendly project possibly at a learning center on a hill in Dhulikhel, a historical town in a valley about 30 KM east of Kathmandu. There could be other alternate ideas and sites based on the interest and the availability of resources. Some possible innovative ideas are: cloud harvesting/fog catching, Bagmati ecosystem monitoring project, rain water catchment, solar and wind power, drinking water.

The two-week program in Kathmandu will provide students with the following experiences about the Bagamati river basin through guest lectures, field visits, community projects, and nature hikes:

• Environment and conservation
• Arts, culture, myths, and legends
• Sustainable development (e.g., micro credit program)
• Environment and health (e.g., ecosystem monitoring, water quality testing, water borne illness)
• Sustainable technologies to promote environmental conservation (e.g., briquet making from recycled materials; smokeless stove;compost toilet; rain, solar, wind, and cloud harvesting)
• Community participation and grass-roots organizations

Students are encouraged to observe, compare, and contrast the economics, culture, and biology of two rivers – the Rio Grande and Bagmati. Students are encouraged to keep a journal of everyday events .

Aerial View of the Bagmati River
Bagmati's Journey
KTM Valley and  Bagmati River
Chobhar Ganes

Application Process, Eligibility and Language Requirement
Language Requirement

No Knowledge of Nepali required.


Eligible participants should be full-time students enrolled at a NM college or university, preferably enrolled in the course: Econ 203 –Environment and Society. Others are encouraged to contact professors Jennifer Thacher <> or Alok K. Bohara <>

Application Process and Deadlines

Application deadline March 3, 2009
Initial deposit of $1000 due March 3, 2009
Balance due by April 3, 2009

Fees and Travel Scholarships

$1,000-1,500 per student

Included in the fee: Room and board in Kathmandu (room, breakfast, and lunch), local transportation, field trips, nature hiking, guest lectures from Kathmandu University

Not Included in the fee : Tuition, airfare, passport fee, dinners, mandatory travel insurance ($36), personal expenses, and the outside of the field trip excursions (e.g., trekking destinations, safari trips, and camping).

Travel Grant Opportunities

Regents International Study Grants
Deadline: October 15th for spring semester programs March 1st for spring break, summer and fall programs
International Studies Institute Scholarships
Deadline: First week of March

Suggested Reading Materials
Click here

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