2018 Trek to the Himalayas of India Course

ENVS Mountain Resiliency (3 Credits)

May 20th – June 12th, 2018

Course Description:

What is resiliency? Why is it an important part of sustainable development? How can we draw wisdom and knowledge about resiliency from diverse communities, cultures, and livelihoods? These are the core questions to be explored in this international, field-based ENVS course. The importance of traditional knowledge systems, socio-ecological relationships, and spiritual connectedness to landscapes will be explored through a place-based resiliency curriculum. Our group will travel to two mountain communities in the Himalayas of India, learning about the region, the culture, and a variety of sustainable development issues. The curriculum emphasizes the interdependence and interconnectedness between individuals, their community, and natural systems. This course will provide a unique experiential learning environment and reward students with new perspectives for approaching the environmental, social, and economic issues which face our global societies today.

Partner Organization: The Foundation for Contemplation of Nature   

This course was developed in partnership with the FCN, a non-profit organization based out of Majkhali, Uttarakhand, India. For the past 6 years, FCN has hosted a variety of student groups, including students from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and University of Pittsburgh. Contemplation of Nature has been developed as a distinct practice that draws from recent research in the field of psychology, neuroscience, and biology. The practice advocates a simple way of being with nature, and can be offered in any environment, from an office building to the forest floor. In the past, the FCN has combined a sustainability education curriculum, based in cultural and environmental studies of the region, with the practice of nature contemplation. The Mountain Resiliency curriculum for this course builds on what has been offered in the past, creating an experiential, place-based pedagogy in sustainability and resiliency. You can learn more about the FCN’s mission, values, and community engagement at the following website: www.foundnature.org

Abbreviated Schedule:

Segment 1 – Regional & Cultural Orientation (May 20th – 29th)

Our group will meet in New Delhi on May 20th. We will spend the night at a hotel in Delhi. A bus will pick us up early in the morning on the 21st and we will drive approximately 10 hours to the Uttarakhand Organic Agriculture Training Facility in Majkhali, where we will stay for the next two nights. This facility provides comfortable accommodation in bamboo cottages, sleeping two people per room. The students will be given the first full day to adjust at their own pace. The village is just a short walk away, as are the Foundation for Contemplation of Nature (FCN) facilities. After these first two nights, the group will travel to Pithoragarh. Students will learn about the Kailash Sacred Landscape Initiative and take walking pilgrimage tours within the surrounding mountain region. Additionally, there is a possibility of an overnight trip to a nearby high-altitude ashram. This week will give students adequate time to adjust to their new surroundings, preparing them for two weeks in a village homestay.

Segment 2 – Majkhali Homestay Section (May 30th – June 12th)

After completion of the trek, the group will return to Majkhali. The students will stay with a family from the community in traditional housing. A few years back, a group of 10 village families came together and formed a self-help group to offer homestays to foreign students. Each family can host two students, with all the families being in the same neighborhood. This homestay system has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) students, who participate in a 10-day culture section in Majkhali as part of the NOLS India semester. During this two-week segment, students will spend time between their homestay families, the village, the surrounding forests, and the FCN facilities. Each day the students will make the short walk from their homestay to the FCN, where various activities and workshops will be administered. Time spent in a conventional classroom setting will be limited each day; the students will quickly realize that their homestay, the village, and the forests are all meant to serve as classrooms for this course. The content and flow of the mountain resiliency curriculum will encourage students to think about resiliency and sustainable development in new and interesting ways, with a variety of local case-studies enhancing the learning process. Additionally, a certified yoga teacher will lead us through a basic yoga course of the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy founded by Swami Sivananda. At the end of these two weeks, students will have the chance to reflect on how the course shaped their perception of resiliency, global sustainable development, and nature connectedness.

Cost and Payment Information:

The cost of the program is $3,325 + the cost of credit.  The cost for undergraduate credit is the Extended Studies per credit fee and the cost of graduate level credit is the standard tuition rate.  The price includes all related costs, lodging, designated excursions, and activities.  Program cost does not include airfare, visa, gear, personal needs, individual travel, or other activities outside the established program schedule.  A $1,500 non-refundable deposit is due on or before February12, 2018.  A full refund, less the $1,500 deposit, will be made if written notice of cancellation is received by March 16, 2018.  No refunds will be made after March 16, 2018 nor will refunds be made to students not present for the program or for those who drop out after the course begins.  You must be 18 years of age, with a 2.5 GPA prior to departure to participate in this course, and have completed 24 university credits.  Students who earned probationary academic status at the end of the spring term will forfeit the course fee and will not be allowed to participate.  Students must register for 3 credits and remain on-site May 20 - June 12, 2018. 

A non-refundable deposit of $1,500 is due January 31, 2018.

A payment of $1,200 is due by March 1, 2018.

Final payment is due April 1, 2018. 

Applications are available in the Extended Studies Department located at Taylor 303 and can be requested by emailing the Extended Studies Department.  For more information on the course, please contact Dr. John Hausdoerffer.