Nepal: Development and Social Change
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Witness the challenges facing Nepal as it works to balance tradition and progress and negotiate economic, political, and social change during a very dynamic period in history.
From the sea level plains of the Terai to the world’s third pole, Mt. Everest, Nepal is a land of complex ethnic, cultural, and political diversity. Once thought of as a mythical Shangri-La, Nepal continues to struggle with development and modernization as well as with defining its own national identity.
Emerging from the Maoist “People’s War”, Nepal is now crafting a new constitution that seeks to give voice to ethnic minorities and heal internal divisions. At a time in its history where Kathmandu is increasingly cosmopolitan, with amenities found in most capital cities, rural Nepalese communities —shaped by their physical environments, pressured by scarce resources, and somewhat left on the periphery of development—have found innovative solutions that have helped them move forward in a challenging environment.
Through thematic lectures and field work, students on the program explore how international development, political conflict, an emerging civil society, and global markets are all working to redefine Nepal in the twenty-first century. Emphasis is placed on examining efforts at social change amidst political renegotiations between citizens and the state. Questions of global and local forces in development and the interplay of cultural and ethnic identities, gender, caste, and class are important lenses for analysis in the program.
Based in the Kathmandu Valley, the program takes advantage of the learning resources in the city and well beyond: from UNESCO World Heritage sites to Himalayan villages. In Kathmandu, students engage with academics, I/NGOs, and the lived environment, staying with host families to help facilitate meaningful cultural immersion. In addition to fieldwork around the Valley, students take two extended excursions to better understand development and social change from different perspectives: the first to either the Terai or the middle hills region, and an extended excursion and homestay in the Himalayas. In the past, the second excursion has taken place in the Annapurna, Everest, or Langtang regions.
In- country resources and lecturers are drawn from institutions such as:
- Tribhuvan University
- Fulbright Commission in Kathmandu
- The Mountain Institute
- The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
- Martin Chautari
- Social Science Baha
- Nepal School of Social Sciences and Humanities
In the Words of an Alum
"SIT Nepal was an experience beyond what I could have ever expected. Everything was as hands on as it could possibly be, complemented by a good dose of real academic theory, case studies, and lecturers by some of the biggest innovators in their field.
The language classes were amazing - the teachers were definitely some of the best in Nepal and were so enthusiastic, innovative, and caring in their teaching methods that learning was both enhanced and class was something I looked forward to every day.
The learning approach and experience from my research on the program helped me shape my Fulbright research, and the field visits and techniques learned on SIT really enhanced my research undertaken on the Fulbright.
The homestay was also incredible. I even returned to stay with them for the first 5 months of my Fulbright research."
Spring 2006 student
Fulbright Recipient (2007-2008)
Currently with the World Food Programme Nepal
Salome Vanwoerden, graduate of Rice University and Spring 2009 student on this SIT Study Abroad program, was awarded the Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship, an annual award that returns SIT Study Abroad alums to their host countries to conduct development projects that benefit human rights. She will implement a photography and art therapy class for mental health patients at a Kathmandu hospital starting in October. During her Independent Study Project, she taught daily painting workshops for the patients at the same clinic. “Just the act of creating something and getting feedback really helped their self-esteem,” she said. Read more...
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Nepal, Kathmandu
Language Study: Nepali
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