Analyze current trends and long-term prospects for local food production and nutritional security in the Himalaya, one of the most fragile, important, and biodiverse ecological systems in the world.

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    Study in Sikkim, a stunning mountainous state and ecological hotspot.

    Sikkim stands at the forefront of national and regional food politics. Its traditional agricultural systems maintain rich agro-biodiversity critical in ensuring nutritional security among mountain communities. It was the first state in India to legislate 100 percent adoption of organic food production.

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    Get hands-on agricultural experience during a village homestay.

    By the end of the first week you will be living with a homestay family in the village of Lingee Payong. You will take part in the household’s daily chores and activities such as working your family’s farm, making agro-based products, and processing ethnic food varieties.

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    Develop a collaborative project with your host community.

    Projects are designed by you and innovation lab co-participants in conjunction with your host community members. The project will be relevant to farming communities and focused on food and agriculture.

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    Attend a half-day workshop led by local experts and community members.

    The workshop aims to prepare you for the collaborative project by giving you an understanding of sustainability in relation to food and nutrition security in the context of globalization, climate change, and government policies.

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    Analyze conservation and management of food production through the lenses of society and gender.

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    Explore agricultural systems, agro-biodiversity conservation, and food culture.

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    Discover how climate change, globalization, and government policies impact food production and nutritional security.

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development | Economy | Inequality

Development | Economy | Inequality

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Prerequisites

None. Previous college-level coursework or other significant preparation in environmental studies, agriculture, policy studies, sociology, or related fields recommended.

Key Topics of Study

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Key Topics of Study

  • People, livelihood, culture, and society in Sikkim
  • Traditional and integrated agriculture systems in Sikkim
  • Agro-biodiversity
  • Food culture and habits
  • Gender and local agro-biodiversity
  • Production and nutrition
  • Globalization and food production in mountain communities
  • Climate change and agriculture
  • Government policies on rural development and its implication on food production and nutrition

Coursework

coursework

Coursework

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The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Food – syllabus
(ILAB3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
An interdisciplinary course focused on integrated Himalayan agricultural systems and nutritional security in the context of education systems, globalization, climate change, and government policies in local communities. The course emphasizes the practical aspects of local agro-biodiversity, food production, and food culture as students engage in hands-on agricultural community practices and develop a collaborative, food-focused project.

Excursions

excursions

Excursions

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Sumbuk Village

student groupA three-day site visit to Sumbuk, in south Sikkim, is scheduled during the end of the second week to link key theoretical concepts and policy questions with lived experiences and to provide a comparative site for food and nutritional security questions in the state of Sikkim. Sumbuk is witnessing changes in agriculture, some because of climate change’s impact on water resources, some thanks to government policies. This visit will give you insight into changes in agricultural production, crop and land use patterns, food culture and nutrition as a result of globalization (e.g., the import of packaged foods), and livelihood (from farming to industry).

The Sumbuk site visit takes place prior to the formal start of your collaborative lab project and provides context and preparation for your work on the lab project you develop.

Faculty and Staff

staff

Faculty and Staff

Tara Devi Dhakal, PhD Candidate, Academic Director

Tara DhakalTara holds a master’s degree from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She specialized in social and economic development and organizational management. She studied agriculture as an undergraduate and earned a postgraduate certificate in women’s studies. She is pursuing her PhD, focusing on rural sociology and socioeconomic development in the eastern Himalayas, particularly agro-based livelihood security and resilience in farming households in Sikkim.

Tara comes from a farming community in south Sikkim. She was a researcher and development consultant with NGOs and international development organizations in India and Nepal. She’s been an eco-health researcher with BAIF Development Research Foundation; a gender and social inclusion consultant with The World Conservation Union, Nepal; a consultant with International Center for Integrated Mountain Development; and a consultant on community development with JPS Consultants Delhi/IC Net-JICA Japan. She has conducted a literature review of the eastern Himalayas on agro-biodiversity conservation from a gender perspective and done field studies on gender-based traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and conservation of agro-biodiversity. Tara is interested in community development, rural livelihood, agro-biodiversity, and gender issues and is strongly influenced by social justice and equity and deeply connected to sustainability and practices of environmental and humanitarian spirituality.

Awadhesh Aadhar, Program Coordinator

Awadhesh AadharAwadhesh has worked for SIT for more than 17 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in law, sociology, and management. He has assisted in SIT’s summer program on Himalayan Art and Architecture and traveled with students to mountain sites. He is responsible for financial accounting and organizing and coordinating program logistics. He enjoys reading poems and playing cricket and badminton.

Manoj Sain, Student Health Services Coordinator

manoj sainManoj has a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of Rajasthan. He has worked with SIT for more than eight years and is responsible for student health services and program logistics. Previously, he managed his own pharmaceuticals business and was a tutor. He has traveled to mountainous terrain on student excursions and loves photography, dance, and playing cricket and badminton.

Durga Prasad Sharma, Academic and Field Coordinator

Durga is from South Sikkim. He has an undergraduate degree in English and has worked with nonprofit and intergovernmental organizations in Sikkim and Darjeeling, India. He has worked in sustainable development, with a focus on rural water security and livelihood and biodiversity issues, and has published research. He works with government agencies on Rural Water Security Planning for the drought-prone areas in Sikkim and with the National Biodiversity Authority’s Bio-resources Documentation and Access and Benefit Sharing Project. He likes traveling and trekking, particularly visiting ancient monuments and museums.

Key expert facilitators for the program include:

Gautam Maila

Gautam Maila is a farmer whose wisdom on agriculture is immense. He manages his farms with his wife and has conserved traditional varieties of food crops and vegetables, learning through trial and error. He loves to be in nature.

Sandeep Tambe, PhD

Sandeep graduated from Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai, received his MSc from the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, and has a PhD from the Wildlife Institute of India. He is a member of the Indian Forest Service and works in the Sikkim government’s Rural Development Department, focusing on water sources rejuvenation in drought-prone areas. During his time in the Forest Department and The Mountain Institute, Tambe was instrumental in initiating participatory protection of biodiversity-rich protected areas. That initiative, in partnership with eco-development committees and local NGOs, has resulted in a measurable reduction of threats to forests and wildlife. He is a photography, alpine flowers, and trekking enthusiast.

Ghanashyam Sharma, PhD

Ghanashyam has more than 15 years of experience in biodiversity conservation and agro-ecology, ecosystem services, climate change, traditional farming systems, traditional knowledge systems, community development, environmental governance, mountain culture, and livelihoods in the eastern Himalayas. He is involved in access and benefit sharing of traditional knowledge. He researches traditional agro-forestry systems, climate change adaptation, mountain agricultural biodiversity and production systems, trans-Himalayan agro-pastoralism, habitat ecology, and mountain spring revival initiatives. During postdoctoral research at United Nations University in Tokyo, he compared traditional farming systems and agro-biodiversity in the Eastern Himalayas, Northern Thailand, China’s Yunnan Province, and the Northern Mountainous Region of Japan. 

Collaborative Lab Project

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Collaborative Lab Project

In conjunction with your host community, you and your group will design a collaborative project related to food that is relevant to the community’s needs.

data collectionThroughout weeks one and two of the program, potential ideas for collaborative lab projects, grounded in mutual interests, will emerge from your immersive experiences within your host community. These ideas will be developed through dialogue with community members and frequent critical reflection sessions supported by academic literature. You will have further conversations with community members on the project type and its design by the end of week two.

Week three will focus on project execution and preliminary implementation. The final week (week four) will focus on the realization, assessment, and trouble-shooting of the proposed project. Depending upon the scale of the project and feasibility given the remaining available time, you may be able to complete the project proposal for implementation and completion of the project at a later date.

Engagement in this hands-on project will equip you to understand and analyze the sustainability of food production and nutrition security within rapidly changing agricultural systems. You will also have acquired new skills in implementing innovative techniques to promote sustainable food production in other contexts.

Homestays

homestays

Homestays

The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.

in traditional attireYou’ll spend two weeks with a homestay family in the village of Patuk in Sikkim’s south district. This extended and culturally immersive stay exposes you to farming systems and integrated, sustainable farming practices that respect biodiversity, traditional knowledge, and Mother Earth. You will learn about in-situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity and the role of gender in food production and processing and in ensuring nutritional security. You will participate in agricultural practices such as sowing, transplanting, harvesting, making hay mats, and processing food with village families.

You will also have a three-day homestay during the excursion to Sumbuk village.

Cost and Scholarships

costScholarships

Cost and Scholarships

SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students. 

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

 

Tuition: $4,750

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

Cost of all lecturers / local farmer experts who provide instruction to students in:

  • Sikkim: people, livelihood, culture, and society
  • Traditional and integrated agriculture systems in Sikkim
  • Agro-biodiversity: food culture and habits
  • Gender and local agro-biodiversity: production and nutrition
  • Globalization and food production in mountain communities
  • Climate change and agricultural biodiversity
  • Government policies on rural development and its implication on food production and nutrition
  • Half-day workshop with experts and local community members
  • All educational excursions
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $1,225

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in New Delhi (two nights), hotels (six nights in Gangtok) and homestays (two nights in Sumbuk during a site visit and 15 days in Lingee Payong for an immersive homestay and during the collaborative lab project), and costs during the evaluation period.
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly or through an appropriate stipend or homestays.
  • Travel fare from New Delhi to Gangtok and back, excursion travel in Sikkim 

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $ 125

Immunizations: Varies

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.

Contact A Former Student

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