Cloistered amidst the dramatic backdrop of the Himalayas, Bhutan has captured the imagination of explorers and scholars alike. Part of its allure can be found in Bhutan’s intentional seclusion from the world beyond its boundaries. Up until very recently, the royal monarchy carefully controlled external influences, only allowing television into the country in 1999. Even today, travel to Bhutan is tightly monitored by a deliberately restrictive visa program for foreign visitors. Bhutan’s seclusion, however, has resulted in an unparalleled conservation of long-held values, Buddhist beliefs, and cultural practices. Through homestays, community engagement, and immersion in cultural practices, our semester explores how Bhutanese traditions have created a society uniquely centered on the values of community happiness and environmental sustainability.
- Tibetan Buddhism, the state religion, can be found everywhere in Bhutan, from government policies to educational systems to everyday cultural practices. Monastery visits and a retreat will provide Buddhist teachings.
- Examining Bhutanese conceptions of happiness will offer insights into unique cultural worldviews that will dynamically interact with development and other topics we look at during the course.
- This program will go on one longer trek up to two weeks long and several shorter day hikes in the Himalayas.
- Independent study options include archery, traditional weaving, cooking, monastic life, dance, conservation and local fauna & flora, animal husbandry, meditation, Tibetan traditional medicine, tourism, and more.
- Elementary instruction in Dzongka, the main language spoken in Bhutan.