Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples

Examine Tibetan and Himalayan politics, religion, and the pressing contemporary issues facing communities in exile, particularly in the case of Tibet.

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Through thematic lectures and fieldwork, students explore issues of cultural change and preservation, religious revival, and [sub-]regional geopolitics. Students are challenged to consider the contemporary and historic connections between diverse Himalayan “landlinked” communities. Questions of self-identification and recognition, as well as of diaspora, exile, and migration, are important topics for analysis in this program.

From the Nepal program base, students gain access to a rich array of human and material academic resources throughout the Kathmandu Valley and beyond, learning with prominent Tibetan (and/or Nepalese) Buddhist teachers as well as regional, ethnic (e.g., Mustang, Newar, Sherpa, Tamang, Tsum, Yolmo), and community political players and experts.

Program center in Kathmandu

Significant time is spent outside the program base, on excursion to Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal as well as to other Himalayan Tibetan[-oid/-ish] areas, such as Bhutan, Sikkim/Darjeeling, Mustang, or Ladakh. (Unfortunately, for the time being, it is impossible for SIT or indeed for any US student group to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China.) Excursions enhance understanding of Tibetan civilization and Himalayan cultural traditions, and the refugee and exile experience, from a range of vantage points and perspectives.

Meaningful cultural immersion in the local context is facilitated by Tibetan (and Nepali) language instruction and a six-week homestay in Boudha, Kathmandu, with a Tibetan (or Sherpa) family.

Hubert Decleer Senior faculty advisor Hubert Decleer has been providing leadership and guidance to SIT Tibetan Studies students for more than 25 years.
Under his tutelage, numerous alumni of the program have gone on to become professors of Asian studies, religious studies, philosophy, and linguistics at universities across the US. 

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Kathmandu

Language Study: Nepali,  Tibetan

Prerequisites: None

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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