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Himalayan Study Abroad Program
International Undergraduate Research Experiences in Nepal
Sustainable Development Action Lab, Nepal Study Center, UNM

An experiential learning experience that combines research, hands-on community service learning projects, & eco-adventure. At the heart of this program is the interdisciplinary collaborative community service learning component that invites students from any discipline to join hands to analyze existing problems in the community and offer solutions. The study abroad program is built upon an interdisciplinary course called The Sustainable development action lab, offered by the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico, USA.

The program involves:

* Taking classroom to the Field

* Collecting primary data through field survey reserach

* Analyzing survey data through graduate students mentorship

* Building interdisciplinary approach to research, learning, and problem solving

* Developing STEM tools from natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities

* Implementing projects in the community, if possible, through study abroad trips

* Disseminating research output & experiences through on-and-off campus conferences

Himalayan Study Abroad (2018-2019)
(December 18th - January 5th, 2019)
Professor Alok K. Bohara (, Kevin Estes (
International local partner PNMF's
Lumbini Center for Sustainability (LCS)

Summary Outline of the Study Abroad Program (2018-2019)

A. This year the team completed 5 projects on tracking environmental attributes and raising awareness. The UNM team  set up a network of pollution sensors in Butwal and Siddharthanagar (schools), which you can track live through this website: .

1. Project Outdoor Air Quality Monitoring Network (PurpleAir in four corners in greater Siddharthanagar Metro areas and in an adjoining city of Butwal)
2. Project Ground Water Level Monitoring,
3. Project Sanitation Awareess Outdoor Neighborhood Bulletin Board Prototype
4. Project Academic-Community Science Translation Seminar and Interaction
5. Project Reusable Menustration Sanitation Kits Distribution and Hygiene Awareness (in remote hill schools – Baskateri and Aglung Phedi in Gulmi District)

B. Cultural exposure and interactions with student comunity leaders and policy makers

C. Wildlife conservation and Chitwan National park visit

Study Abroad Material:
Study Abroad BrochureCLICK HERE
Study Abroad SyllabusCLICK HERE
Study Abroad FlyerCLICK HERE 
Follow us on Instagram: @yogdaunm
Study Abroad in the Media News: UNM Newsroom

(Experiential learning)

Working with the local collaborators - a non-profit NGO, PNMF and its polytechnic college PNC - DEMP (modeled after the New Mexico’s BEMP) was developed to track various environmental parameters and to help spread awareness regarding air pollution, water pollution, weather, river flow dynamics, bio-diversity, and waste management around the city of Siddharthanagar. This year the UNM group chose three schools (public and private) to install a network of outdoor pollution tracking sensors in various parts of the city. This live streaming pollution data can be viewed on the website by searching for the country of Nepal. The UNM student team also designed and helped build a prototype Neighborhood Billboard structure and a shaded-platform for the purpose of spreading awareness messages by displaying an easy-to-understand poster. The DEMP lab on the host’s campus ground also saw the installation of a ground water level monitoring device.

Ground Water Level Monitoring Device: Click Here
Ground Water Level Log: Click Here

Cultural Exposure and Interactions with Students and Community

The UNM team interacted with the neighborhood mother's group and college students and shared some of their scientific research they had carried out at UNM's classroom. The team then went on the hill tour and crossed three districts -- Kapilvastu, Arghakachi and and Gulmi to carry out the "W4W menstruation kits distribution and  awareness project"  in a school in Gulmi District. The group then went on a hill circle tour to observe and experience various sustainable development activities and cultures.


Nature Hike and Wildlife Conservation Visit

Finally, the students visited a world renowned wildlife conservation site Chitwan National Park, famous for rhinos, tigers, crocodiles, and bird species (activities/observations: elephant and alligator breeding sites/farms, rhinos viewing, river canoe trip, jungle walk, invasive species, and park management etc.).

Himalayan Study Abroad (2017-2018)
(December 19th - January 6th, 2018)
Professor Alok K. Bohara (, Michael Benjamin Goodwin (
International local partner PNMF's
Lumbini Center for Sustainability (LCS)

Summary Outline of the Study Abroad Program (2017-2018)

A. Launching of a pilot Citizen Science Environmental Monitoring Program in urban town of Siddharthanagar, Nepal as a part of the community-engaged service and research learning:

1. Water quality monitoring (main focus, along the line of the New Mexico's BEMP project),
2. Air quality monitoring (trial run), and
3. Climate monitoring (rainfall, temperature, wind speed etc.)
4. Bio-diversity tracking: Setting the groundwork for an urban wildlife refuge concept by the Danda River (pilot exploration, along the line of Valle del Oro)

B. Sustainable Development Tour of the surrounding hill communities. (Check the Program Itenerary)

C. Sharing research outcome and study abroad experience in conferences (on-campus and off-campus)

The program at a glance

An interdisciplinary group of University of New Mexico (UNM) students traveled to Nepal on the Himalayan Study Abroad Program this December (December 19th, 2017- January 6th, 2018) offered by the Nepal Study Center (NSC) and Department of Economics. The mission of this study abroad program was to build a Citizen Science (CS) Initiative, in particular, to develop and implement the Danda Ecological Monitoring Program (DEMP) developed by a series of students in previous economics courses under the NSC's Sustainable Development Action Lab concept. Working with the local collaborators (a non-profit NGO, PNMF and its polytechnic college, PNMHI), DEMP was developed to track various environmental parameters and to help spread awareness regarding air pollution, water pollution, weather, river flow dynamics, bio-diversity & waste management around the city of Siddharthanagar. The UNM group met with the Mayor of Siddharthanagar and expressed interest to help link the Nepal CS program with the similar conservation initiatives in New Mexico. Our students also participated in a Seminar Abroad event jointly with the local students presenting their work. The group then went on a hill circle tour to observe and experience various sustainable development activities and cultures. They also participated in a community service project that distributed reusable mensuration kits to women in a rural school (10th, 11th, 12th grades) and carried out a survey to help identify women's health needs. DEMP will provide continued community engaged research opportunities for other UNM undergraduate and graduate students in Nepal. Students from the recent study abroad program will also be participating in an undergraduate panel of the Southwestern Society of Economists (SSE) Annual Meeting to present their research and share their experiences. The study abroad program was co-led by Professor Alok Bohara and Michael Benjamin Goodwin (graduate student, economics department).

A Winter-break UNM's Global Office Page: Himalayan Study Abroad Program
Program Brochure: Click here
Program Itenerary: Click here
Program Syllabus: Click here
Program Itenerary Map: click here

DEMP Citizen Science Monitoring Labs: Click Here
Seminar Abroad Workshop: Click Here
Daliy Student Blog Entries: Click Here
Study Abroad in the Media News: UNM lobo , Albuquerque Journal

Citizen Science Initiatives
(A week long experiential learning)

Sustainable Hill Tour
(A week long eco-adventure)

A Visual Eco-adventure Tour Outline of the Himalayan Study Abroad Program:

Kathmandu capital city: Landing and departure and some sight seeing
Manakamana Hill: Cable car ride across the Trishuli Rive and up to a mountain top.
Siddharhanagar: Engage in citizen science pilot projects such as the long-term water and air quality monitoring; and scope out the future Urban Wildlife Refuge sites along the Danda River.
Lumbini and Kapilvastu: 650 BC World Heritage cultural sites visit (birthplace of Buddha).
Madhane Community Health Center: Explore sustainable development projects such as, health care and hygiene, organic farming experiments, and clean stove; Arubindo Ashram spiritual eco-adventure and bio-diversity tour and experience.
Tamghas Valley: Hill-top nature hike through singing forest.
Ridi: Kali Gandaki River valley and canyon trip.
Chitwan National Park: Elephant ride to observe rhinos and tigers, if lucky

Study Abroad Collaborator and the Citizen Science Project Platforms: A non-profit local organization PNMF, its college campus, and its international research platform LCS.

Dissemination of Research and Experience at Conferences

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Conference (UROC), University of New Mexico
Thursday, April 19, 2018 in the UNM Student Union Building (SUB), University of New Mexico
Jesus Vazquez, Household Waste Management Effects on Health and Behavior: A Case Study of Siddharthanagar

STEM Bridge Undergraduate Research - Problem-based Learning: Health and Environment in Urban Nepal
Southwester Society of Economists Annual Meeting (SSE 2018) in Albuquerque, New Mexico during March 7 - 10, 2018.  SSE 2018  held in conjunction with the Federation of Business Disciplines (FBD) Annual Conference.

For Program outline: Click Here

Research Power Point Slides
DEMP Monitoring Protocols: air quality, water quality, weather, and river stage : Click here
Household Waste Disposal and Health : Click Here
Hand Washing and Illness : Click Here
Education and Willingness to Clean River Danda : Click Here
Air Pollution and Respiratory Illness : Click Here

Student Feedback

"The group had a little packing party before we depart on Sunday. All the supplies (air sensors, water testing kits, river stage monitors, safety materials, etc.. ) are packed away in everyone's bags. Here we come Nepal!"
"Before the Yogdan group heads out to Nepal this December, it's important that they practice all the environmental monitoring protocols. Enjoy a little video of a couple of students gathering a water quality sample from the Rio Grande to practice testing the water quality."

"This is just the beginning of a diverse forest that is ready to change the fate of an untold amount of people world wide. Kathmandu is the first adventure, its rich cultural density, history, diversity, and beautiful land is the perfect representation of what Nepal brings to the world as well as what the people of Nepal can bring to the global community."
"Our first day exploring Kathmandu begins with the surprise stop to visit some cute critters that enjoy the offerings at the Syambhu Nath (stupa). The day was filled with peaceful stupas, delightful ginger tea, and deep historic explanation on the city of Kathmandu."

"Day Three was our first day at the Pratiman Neema Memorial Foundation. We were welcomed by a thankful and generous community of faculty and students with a massive amount of flowers and selfies. Our day consisted of introductions and guest lectures that outlined our mission for the following eight days as we work together to improve the Danda River and the health and awareness of the community."
"What started off as a nerve-wracking and uncertain day filled with presenting our semester-long work turned out to be a day where each of us learned something new. In addition to getting over our stage fright, our group had the joy of listening to a couple of students from PNMHI present their own findings. I was very impressed with their work!"
"We installed the Laser Egg and The Weather Station and along the way worked with the eco-club and mentors to properly learn how it functions and uploads data properly."

"Well of course we stopped for tea and graceful took in the beautiful Himalayan view! After being in the city for a while and crammed in the cars, turning that windy corner and then, BAM! there emerges the amazing mountains as vast and mysterious as we had hoped."
"I can not possibly think of a better way to start the new year than with meditation and early morning yoga at the Arubindo Ashram. The feeling of the crisp morning air and the sun on my face as we sat on a plateau overlooking the mountains is both humbling and empowering. The massive landscape around us reminded me of what little place we take in the world. Yet, it also reminded me of the importance of the role we play in the world, and motivated me to keep working for a better environment and well-being for everyone."
"While our efforts to bring resources and education on feminine hygiene and menstruation are undoubtedly a huge step of progress for the girls at the school we visited, I can’t help but think of all the progress that can still be made in this subject. After learning more about the cultural stigmas of female menstruation, I was both fired up and inspired to learn more about the changes possible. Education, resources, and a shift in outdated traditions are all necessary for a healthy lifestyle for women, especially in rural parts of Nepal."

For more student feedback, Click Here


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