Explore the rich culture, biodiversity, and dramatic mountain views of the Bhutanese Himalayas. Spend six weeks surveying forests, visiting ancient shrines, and studying issues of conservation and development in one of the most fascinating countries in the world. This summer session includes a group research project in the field.
Trek across forested ridges and remote villages, camping out under the stars and learning about Bhutanese culture and ecosystems firsthand
Program Costs & Financial Aid
Meet Your Admissions Counselor
SFS provides a comprehensive study abroad experience during a 6-day/week program schedule. SFS delivers the highest level of support and an unparalleled academic experience.
Room & Board:
Pre-program advising and on-site orientation
Tuition and research fees
Housing at the field station and on excursions
Daily meals and snacks
Airport transfers for arrival and departure
Field excursions and cultural activities
Emergency evacuation and 24/7 support
Official transcript processing
In addition to SFS program costs, students should plan for some additional expenses estimated
All students are welcome to apply for our need-based financial aid. Students who exhibit financial need for their program will be offered SFS financial aid. SFS aid is offered through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.
Pell Grant Match
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.
Many applicants receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.
Olivia graduated from the College of Charleston with degrees in Spanish and International Studies, focusing on Latin America. She spent her college years looking for ways to engage with global learning outside of the classroom, taking two short-term study abroad trips to Honduras and Cuba and later spending a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When she was on campus, she served as a peer mentor to freshmen honors students, tutored Spanish, and led campus tours.
After graduation she continued to pursue her passion for international education and student affairs. She worked for her alma mater as a Site Director for the iCharleston bridge program for two years. In this role she lived in London, advising and supervising a cohort of freshman students during a fall semester abroad. Later, Olivia traveled to León, Nicaragua where she lived for three months and earned her TEFL/TESOL certification. She is currently working towards a Master of Education degree through James Madison University and the University of Salamanca, which focuses on Spanish language and culture.
Olivia was thrilled to join the SFS admissions team in 2018. Her own international experiences have been transformative, and she is enthusiastic to be able to help students on their own journey of global learning as an Admissions Counselor.
Week 1: Introductions, orientation to the capital of Thimpu, class begins
Week 2: Field lectures in landscape ecology, explore Buddhist sacred sites
Week 3: Classes in forestry management, livelihoods, and mountain environments, recreational trek
Week 4: Data collection days and analysis of research findings
Week 5: Data analysis, research writing and wrap-up, and presentations
Week 6: Trek to Tiger’s Nest (Takstsang) Monastery, closing activities
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
Geology and hydrology of mountain regions
Community forest management
Influence of Buddhist philosophy on conservation
Agriculture & food security
In the Forests in the Land of the Thunder Dragon program, you will take one 6-credit course. This course is participatory in nature and is designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, tests, and a small research project. This course is taught in English.
Click on each course to view a description and download the syllabus
SFS 3580 Eastern Himalayan Forests and Rural Livelihoods (6 credits)
is an interdisciplinary, field-based course where students get to know a country in a region that is recognized worldwide for its dramatic mountain landscapes and rich flora and fauna. We travel in Bhutan, learning about how environmental issues and rural development goals intersect. Trekking across valleys and ridges and through villages, students gain an intimate knowledge of the local environments and rural livelihoods. Students develop skills in assessing environmental problems, defining research questions, conducting field research, and communicating results. They gain an appreciation of the complexity of identifying and addressing conservation issues in a rapidly developing region.
You will gain practical skills in the field such as: 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, 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.
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 10-minute walk brings you to the markets, shops, and cultural events of Paro Town.
Dorm living with 2-4 bunks per room
Classroom and library
Kitchen and dining hall, on-site cooking staff
Student lounge and ping-pong tables
Verandas with scenic views of the valley
Hiking trails and local roads for running
Click on the icons below to learn more about our Center in Bhutan.