Agroecology and Food Security in the Himalaya

Explore agroecological systems, sustainable food production, and nutritional security in the Himalaya—one of the most diverse ecological systems in the world.

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Jun 4 – Jul 23

Program Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Global Health & Well-being

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Climate & Environment

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Development & Inequality

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Why study food security in India?

Perched on the mountainous borders of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, Sikkim is situated in the Himalayas of northeast India and is the first state to adopt total organic food production, putting it at the forefront of food politics. In this spectacular setting of high peaks and deep valleys, study sustainable agriculture as it contrasts with globalized industrial agriculture. Journey through the Himalayas to learn about biodiversity conservation, organic farming, and farmers’ rights in a system that could hold a solution to future food, nutritional, and ecological issues. The unique perspectives of farmers, villagers, experts and practitioners provide an introduction to the realities of rural life and socioeconomic development in India’s Eastern Himalayas. Visits will include non-governmental organization headquarters, prominent academic and research institutes, and smaller communities. In addition, get hands-on agricultural experience doing farm work during an 18-day village homestay and a self-designed collaborative group project.


  • Explore Sikkim, India’s first organic food state, and home to Kanchanjunga, India's highest and the world's third-highest mountain.
  • Understand nuances of industrial vs. agroecological agriculture.
  • Study the impact of globalization on food production and small farmers.
  • Live at Bija Vidyapith (Earth University), Navdanya’s world-renowned conservation farm.


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


Navdanya Farm, Dehradun 

Navdanya (meaning “nine seeds”) was founded in 1987 by scientist, ecofeminist, philosopher, and author Dr. Vandana Shiva. This groundbreaking farm has spearheaded an agroecological movement. After a few days of orientation in Delhi, live at at Bija Vidyapeeth of Navdanya, in the foothills of the Himalaya, and deepen your understanding of globalized industrial and agro-ecological food systems. Apply ecological principles and reflect on what safe, healthy, just, and inclusive food systems mean for the future.

Gangtok, Sikkim

In the capital of Sikkim, tour a local weekly farmers’ market to get a sense of Sikkim’s food culture, and meet with government officials to better understand the successes, challenges, and opportunities for implementing Sikkim’s organic farming policy. This trip will take place toward the end of week two of the program. Students will return to Gangtok during the final week of the program to focus on a field study project and consolidate lessons learned about agroecology and food security in the Himalaya.

Lingchom Village, West Sikkim

Witness the village’s Asarey Mela, a community fair to mark the peak agricultural season when rice is transplanted, celebrating the diversity of food, music, people, and nature. Distinct ethnic groups living in this village, the Limbu and the Lepcha, engage in agroecological agriculture farming for self-sufficiency. Interact with these communities and learn about crop production and land-use patterns in Sikkim, as well as the future of farming in the context of globalization and changing worldviews.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Describe agro-ecological systems, basic principles and their application in mountain agriculture by collaborating with communities’ viewpoints.
  • Analyze the multi-functional approach of traditional integrated farming from social, economic, cultural, ecological, and sovereign perspectives.
  • Engage in hands-on activities such as working on farms, food processing, and making agro-based products.
  • Reflect on opportunities and challenges in the implementation of organic food production requirements of local state policy.
  • Analyze the role of gender in conservation and management of local agro-biodiversity and food production and nutrition.
  • Implement a food-related project in strict observance of ethics.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Ecological vs industrial food systems
  • Principles of agroecology and its application in Himalayan small farming food systems
  • Gender perspectives on agrobiodiversity and food systems
  • Safe, healthy, just, and inclusive food systems
  • Cross-cultural communication

Agroecology and Food Security in the Himalaya

Agroecology and Food Security in the Himalaya – syllabus

(ASIA3010 / 3 credits / 45 hours)

This interdisciplinary course focuses on agroecology, the new movement around the world focusing on sustainable farming from the complementary perspectives of food security and farmer sovereignty. The course aims to develop understanding of the traditional integrated agriculture systems practiced by small farmers in the Sikkim Himalayas based on agro-ecological principles and observing the local living food economies that holds the solution to the future of food, nutritional and ecological crises.

The course also provides deeper analysis about the political economy of food, nutrition and health and how different anthropogenic factors and changing world views impact small farmers’ traditional ecological agriculture, paving the way to reflect deeply on what entails a safe, just, healthy, and inclusive food system in the context of Himalayas and the world. In addition, the seminar will impart an understanding of the resilience in community based agro-ecological practices that can be applied to any part of the world. Students engage in hands-on agricultural community practices and develop new skills and diverse perspectives necessary for analyzing the sustainability of food production and nutritional security. The course prepares students for the Food Security Field Study Project.

Food Security Field Study Project

Food Security Field Study Project – syllabus

(FSPR3080 / 3 credits / 45 hours)

A project-based course designed to immerse students in the development, planning, and execution of a field study project related to the program theme. The project is carried out in collaboration with community members and in strict adherence to the SIT Human Subjects Review policy. Engagement in this project allows students to understand and analyze changes in local food production systems, nutritional security, the complexity of food politics and organic food production, impacts of globalization, and community-based action focused on food and nutritional security. The course entails preparing a proposal, carrying out the project in collaboration with a local community, and presenting the outcomes in both written and oral form. In the process, students gain skills in project management, interpersonal communication, problem-solving, and oral and written presentation.


Chalamthang, Patuk, and Lingchom

Experience three village homestays: Live with families in Chalamthang and Patuk for a total of 18 days. Also, travel to Lingchom for three nights, and go sightseeing for one night in Pelling. These separate and culturally immersive stays expose you to integrated farming systems and practices that conserve and foster biodiversity with traditional/indigenous knowledge. Each experience prepares you to conduct a collaborative project by providing an understanding of food sustainability and nutrition security within the context of globalization, gender and government policies.

Faculty & Staff

India: Agroecology and Food Security in the Himalaya

Tara Devi Dhakal, MSW
Academic Director
Durga Prasad Sharma
Academic and Field Coordinator
Manoj Sain
Program Coordinator
Gautam and Maili Maila
Ghanashyam Sharma, PhD

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & 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.

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