F&ES 738 Himalayan Diversities

Video: Meet Alark Saxena

Himalayan Diversities: Environment, Livelihoods, and Culture

This course will introduce learners to the biological and cultural diversity of the vast Himalayan region, an area of incredible local, regional, and global importance. Join Professor Alark Saxena, lecturer and program director of the Yale Himalayan Initiative, as he delves into the natural and social worlds of this transnational space, covering everything from languages to climate change, to the future of the region.

The course is divided into six modules, each lasting one week, as well as an introductory unit. Each module includes videos, readings, resources, discussions, and assignments, completed asynchronously at the learner’s own pace. In addition, students will have the opportunity to meet 2-3 times with their professor and their classmates during live online discussions. 
  • Week 1 will introduce students to the scale and scope of the Himalayan region, its geology and environmental history.
  • Week 2 will focus on the cultural diversity of its peoples, their languages, religions, and cultures.
  • During Week 3, students will learn about the immense biological and ecological diversity of the Himalayas.
  • In Week 4, students will consider the physical landscapes of the region, as well as the livelihoods of the people who inhabit them.
  • Week 5 will offer a look at the changes and challenges to the social and climatic structures of this area.
  • The course culminates in Week 6 with an in-depth discussion of the future of the Himalayan region and the potential for long-term sustainability. 
In addition to the main course, students will have access to supplementary modules, such as the Geographic Focus Sessions. These additional modules give students the option to explore areas of particular interest or to enhance their knowledge of a specific country or region. 

At the end of the course, learners will be granted a certificate signifying their completion of Himalayan Diversities: Environment, Livelihoods, and Culture.

Join us for this unique learning opportunity, connect with other alumni and professors, and expand your knowledge of this vast and fascinating region! 

FAQs for This Course

Why do you think alumni would be interested in taking this course?
The Himalayan region, often referred to as the planet’s “third pole” is a source of 10 major rivers, four global biodiversity hotspots  and home to more than a billion people. The Himalayan region is also home to 40% of world’s poor population and faces extreme vulnerability due to climate change, rapid urbanization, migration, large infrastructure projects and loss of biodiversity.

The course on Himalayan Diversities is the first of its kind that is trans-regional and multi-disciplinary. It has been designed to understand the diversities of environment, culture and livelihood by exploring the interconnections between land and the people of the region. The course is focused on issues rather than disciplines and aims to find solutions to current challenges.

The course has been designed for alumni (practitioners and scholars) who are professionally or personally interested in the region. With the idea of exploring sustainable pathways, the course provides an opportunity for the participants to understand, evaluate, and debate some of the key challenges of sustainability in the region. Learning through videos, recorded presentations, and online discussions with world renowned subject experts from the region, the course provides our alumni an opportunity to interact and create a new professional network for their future development.

What are the specific learning objectives of the course?
  • Familiarize with the scale and scope of the Himalayan region by looking at the region as a trans regional whole.
  • Create an in-depth understanding of the drivers of biological, cultural and livelihood diversities in the region.
  • Evaluate the drivers of major changes within the region and understand the interconnectedness between those drivers.
  • Explore the challenges and opportunities for sustainable mountain development.
  • Create a network that provides alumni from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to share, learn from each other’s experiences and explore new opportunities associated to the region. 
How will the course be run?
The course will take place over six weeks and each participant will be expected to commit to 8-10 hours of coursework per week. The majority of that time will be “asynchronous” – according to the individual schedules of the course participants – with assignments due every Monday. There will also be live discussion sections with guest experts that will require the participants to be available at specific times. The scheduling of those live discussion sections will be conducted in the first week of class to best meet the schedules of enrolled participants.

The main people involved in the delivery of the course are:
  • Alark Saxena ( Yale F&ES,’07 M.E.M., ’15 Ph.D.), is the main instructor of the course. He is also the Director of Yale Himalaya Initiative, and Anobha Gurung (Yale F&ES, ’10 M.E.M., ’16 Ph. D), is the teaching fellow. Anobha Gurung is also the Yale Himalaya Initiative Speaker Series Coordinator. Both Alark and Anobha will guide the participants through the course to create an enriching experience.
  • Drs. Mark Turin and Kamal Bawa, along with other guest experts will deliver online lectures, participate in live discussion sections, and provide answers to subject-specific questions.
What types of learning tools will be used (online lectures, blogs, etc.)?
The online course employs a variety of learning tools, including:
  • Pre-recorded lectures by subject experts;
  • Optional and required readings of selected articles/papers/reports to complement the presentations
  • Discussion sections conducted live with guest experts;
  • Weekly assignments which will evaluate the participant’s understanding of the content;
  • A rich electronic library of materials and literature on variety of Himalayan subjects and geographic regions ; and
  • Discussion forums for individual and group exchange.

What types of assignments must participants complete?
  • Weekly discussion and comment to postings by peers, demonstrating the participant’s understanding of the content.
  • Final projects based on participant’s interest. The project can take different forms ( article, case study, review) in consultation with the instructor. 
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