Experience how global, regional, and local forces are interacting dynamically to shape and reshape Nepal today.
By engaging with an outstanding array of academic and community experts, you will experience how global, regional, and local forces are interacting dynamically to shape and reshape Nepal today. The Nepal: Development and Social Change program examines the myriad factors — including historical, religious, economic, and political forces — that have impacted, and continue to affect, the diverse country of Nepal.
Lectures and discussions on this program, provided both in Nepal and on excursion, incorporate the following topics:
- Introductions to Nepal and development: Locating Nepal in the region (and Kathmandu’s place in Nepal); religious traditions that help define Nepalese society; causes and conditions for change and conflict; introduction to international development
- Diversity and history: Caste and ethnicity in Nepal; early and modern history of the Kingdom; economic forces in the Himalayas; defining development
- Ethnicity, nationhood, and social and political change: Ethnicity and nationalism; political history of Nepal; social change in conflict areas
- Development and social issues: Gender issues in development; women’s development challenges in Nepal; in search of agency
- Development redefined: Social entrepreneurship; social capital and civil society; development and freedom
- Governance, opportunities, and challenges: “Fixing” development in Nepal; development in the twenty-first century; under the governance umbrella
Learn from influential experts in the development arena.
The program takes full advantage of the countless academic resources located in the Kathmandu Valley, including visiting scholars, a plethora of NGO and INGO headquarters, bilateral and multilateral donors (such as USAID, DfID, GTZ, and the World Bank), and a wealth of important, world-famous cultural heritage sites.
You will have direct exposure to some of the most inspired and important Nepali scholars and practitioners in the development arena, such as activists for ethnic rights, women's issues, education reform, and urban renovation.
Explore the Kathmandu Valley (program base).
The program is based in the vibrant and dynamic Kathmandu Valley. The SIT program house is conveniently located in Naxal, right in the center of Kathmandu near the former royal palace, and provides a safe and quiet haven in the midst of busy urban activity.
Famous for its architecture and Newari culture, the Kathmandu Valley contains seven monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. These include the ancient city of Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Durbar Square, the famous Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Boudha, the Hindu temple complex Pashupatinath, and Patan city. Kathmandu is a cosmopolitan city, and the valley is extremely diverse with many ancient Newari villages within easy access. The program incorporates numerous excursions to many of these important locations within the valley.
Develop competency in Nepali.
You will develop speaking, reading, and writing skills in Nepali with some of the best Peace Corps–trained teachers in the country. The program keeps class sizes small and encourages you to practice your language skills at every opportunity. To that end, language instructors will accompany you on excursions so language learning can continue away from the program base.
Before the ISP period, most students gain enough fluency in Nepali to test at Intermediate Mid on the ACTFL, and every semester there are a few who reach advanced levels on oral proficiency tests. All students typically develop a level of fluency that allows fieldwork without need of translators. Many alumni of the program have used their Nepali language skills in support of winning Fulbright fellowships and securing professional positions in Nepal after graduation.
Learn appropriate methodologies to undertake fieldwork.
The Field Methods and Ethics seminar focuses on the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. Material includes:
- Cross-cultural adaptation and skills building
- Appropriate methodologies
- Field study ethics and the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy
- Developing contacts and finding resources
- Developing skills in observation and interviewing
- Gathering, organizing, and communicating data
- Maintaining a work journal
- Fieldwork practicalities specific to Nepal
Enjoy unique learning opportunities.
The coursework, field experiences, and program components are well integrated and supportive of one another. SIT’s Development and Social Change program in Nepal gives you an up-close look at the ways in which development is reshaping a traditionally rural society into one that is rapidly becoming globally connected and modern. But there’s even more to the program than you might imagine. Drawing on a program history of 40+ years, the program has published its own language textbook.
Experience Nepal's tremendous diversity on excursion.
Though rich in academic resources and the nerve center for international development interventions, Kathmandu, the program’s base, is just one part of Nepalese culture in the Himalaya, making excursions outside the valley indispensable in recognizing the social, economic, and developmental differences among Nepali people in the region. Excursions outside the Kathmandu Valley will expose you to Nepal’s remarkable biological, geological, cultural, linguistic, social, and religious diversity. These excursions will give you an understanding of the biological, geological, cultural, linguistic, social, and religious diversity of the country. You will see wildlife; trek through the Himalaya; and visit villages, NGOs, small businesses, and local organizations. On these excursions, you will be able to immerse yourself in ways that tourists could never imagine. Many students develope deep and lasting relationships with the people they meet.
Independent Study Project
You will spend four weeks working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursing original research on a selected topic of interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Kathmandu or, conditions permitting and with program approval, in other parts of Nepal. A large number of students have gone on to use their ISPs as the basis for further research under Fulbright fellowships in Nepal or in securing professional positions with INGOs, the State Department, and the United Nations.
Sample topic areas for the ISP include:
- Rural development and aid
- Community forestry
- The emerging middle-class society
- Remittance economies and development
- Women’s health challenges and roles in development
- Human rights in post-conflict situations
- Preservation of world heritage sites
- Changing food geographies and agricultural practices
- Emerging dating and marriage patterns in urban Newari youth