Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition


This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Bhutan. Read more about the SFS program model.

Major academic themes include:

  • Mountain and forest ecology and conservation
  • Climate change
  • Geology and hydrology of mountain regions
  • Forest and natural resource management
  • Environmental governance
  • Gross National Happiness and the influence of Buddhist philosophy on conservation
  • Urban migration and development
  • Agriculture and food security


On the Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition program, you will take three 4-credit disciplinary courses, one 2-credit religion and culture course, and a 4-credit capstone Directed Research course. Courses are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning. Each course combines lectures, field exercises, assignments, tests, and research. All courses are taught in English.

Click on each course to view a description and download the syllabus

SFS 2010 Religion and Culture of Bhutan 2 credits
SFS 3040 Political and Socioeconomic Dimensions of Environment 4 credits
SFS 3050 Land Use, Natural Resources, and Conservation 4 credits
SFS 3060 Mountain Ecology 4 credits
SFS 4910 Directed Research 4 credits

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: GIS and mapping, species identification and distribution mapping, forest and biodiversity surveys, camera trapping and mist netting, protected areas assessment, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, research design and implementation, and research presentation.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include mountain ecosystems, subalpine conifer forests, alpine meadows, rural villages and small towns, subtropical broadleaf forests, high-altitude mountain passes, monasteries and sacred sites, and agricultural communities.

Directed Research

In the Directed Research course, each student completes a field research project under the mentorship of a faculty member – beginning with data collection and analysis and concluding with a research paper and presentation. Project subject areas span ecology, natural resource management, conservation science, environmental ethics, and socioeconomics.

Find Out More
All program components are subject to change.

Where You'll Be Living

The Center is located at one end of the stunning Paro Valley, at the base of a towering ridgeline dotted with Buddhist monasteries. Campus is a small cluster of buildings designed in the traditional Bhutanese architectural style. A pleasant walk brings you to the markets, shops, and cultural events of Paro Town.

  • Dorm living in 2-4 student rooms
  • Classroom and dedicated student study spaces
  • Kitchen and dining hall, and on-site cooking staff
  • Student lounge and ping-pong tables
  • Verandas with scenic views of the valley
  • Hiking trails and local roads for running