Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples
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Examine Tibetan and Himalayan politics and religion, history and culture, and the pressing contemporary issues facing communities in exile, particularly in the case of Tibet.
Through thematic lectures and fieldwork, students explore issues of cultural change and preservation, religious revival, and [sub-]regional geopolitics. Students are challenged to consider the contemporary and historic connections between diverse Himalayan “landlinked” communities. Questions of self-identification and recognition, as well as of diaspora, exile, and migration, are important topics for analysis in this program.
From the Nepal program base, students gain access to a rich array of human and material academic resources throughout the Kathmandu Valley and beyond, learning with prominent Tibetan (and Nepalese) Buddhist teachers, as well as regional, ethnic (e.g., Sherpa and Tamang), and community political players and experts.
In-country resources include:
- Monastic universities
- Refugee schools
- Traditional Tibetan medicine clinics
- Regional branches of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other NGOs
- Political organizations of Himalayan ethnicities
Time outside the program base is a major component of the program, on excursion to Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal and/or to the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China (conditions permitting), as well as to other Himalayan Tibetan[-oid/-ish] areas, such as Bhutan, Sikkim/Darjeeling, Mustang, or Ladakh. Excursions enhance understanding of Tibetan civilization 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 Boudha, Kathmandu, with a Tibetan (or Sherpa) family.
Senior faculty advisor Hubert Decleer has been providing leadership and guidance to SIT Tibetan Studies students for nearly 25 years.
Under his tutelage, numerous alum of the program have gone on to become professors of Asian studies, religious studies, philosophy, and linguistics at universities across the US. Learn more about Hubert and his enormous impact on the program.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Nepal, Kathmandu
Language Study: Tibetan
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