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.

Major academic themes include:

  • Mountain and forest ecology and conservation
  • Climate change
  • Geology and hydrology of mountain regions
  • Community forest management
  • Influence of Buddhist philosophy in conservation
  • Rural-urban migration
  • Agriculture & 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

Field Skills

You will practice valuable skills in the field which may include: remote sensing and mapping, species identification and distribution mapping, biodiversity surveys, research design and implementation, camera trapping and mist netting, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, protected-areas assessment, and research presentation.


You will visit different ecosystems and communities while in the field, 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.

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All program components are subject to change.