Remote Pitt in the Himalayas

 

Join us on an Educational Expedition of Discovery. Travel virtually to the Himalayas with a team of experienced teachers, working remotely in the remote mountains, to learn about one of the most spectacular environments on earth.

Remote Pitt in Himalayas is a study abroad partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and the Hanifl Center for Outdoor Education. Three courses based on unique, curated, multi-media content produced and delivered by Hanifl Center experts in Himalayan environment, culture, religion, and natural history. Each course takes students virtually into the mountains using remote, video technology to bring experiences to life. Each course has a synchronous and asynchronous component with in-depth, interactive engagement with local experts.

Some of the program’s features:

  • Virtual guided tours of life in Himalayan villages
  • Remote participation in religious festivals
  • Virtual experiences that will inspire you to write about your adventures
  • Get up close with leopards, bears, ibex and a world full of Himalayan wildlife
  • And much, much more!

You may sign up for all three courses (9 credits) but must sign up for at least two. 

No travel is involved, and there is no additional cost for you.

 

 

 

 

What You'll Accomplish

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about Himalayan history, society, and culture through remote virtual tours focused on the relationship between nature, the environment, and geography,
  • Gain a better understanding of the intersections of religion and ecology through virtual exploration of the sacred mountains of the Himalayas, journeys with pilgrims, and travel to birthplace of yoga,
  • Explore the process of composing narratives based on observation, memory, and imagination.
What You'll Study

 

  • There are four courses offered on the program. Each course is for 3 credits.
  • You may sign up for all three courses (9 credits), but you must sign up for at least two courses.
  • Two of the courses (Himalayan Geography and Himalayan Biodiversity) are cross-listed between Anthropology and Environmental Studies departments.
  • The courses will be offered in a hybrid synchronous/asynchronous mode and will meet synchronously for 1 hour per week. (Please see the course description below for the day/time of the synchronous meeting.) In addition, there will be 2 hour of self-scheduled asynchronous modules for each course that you will work on each week.
  • If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate requirement, please meet with your respective advisor to discuss the program and what the courses will fulfill for you.

 

The courses are approved for these General Education Requirements:

  • Himalayan Biodiversity – Natural Science and Specific Geographical Area
  • Religion and Ecology – Philosophical Thinking and Cross-cultural Awareness
  • Himalayan Geography – Specific Geographical Area
Himalayan Geography (virtual) (ANTH0730)

Synchronous Meeting: Tuesday 8:00 – 9:00 am

The Himalayan region is characterized by a tremendous range of social and cultural diversity that corresponds to climatic, ecological and geographical variation, as well as local and regional geopolitical factors.  Historical change from the emergence of early forms of social complexity centered on chiefs and their forts – from which the regional designation of “Garhwal” takes its name – through the development of kingdoms and larger polities shows the intimate link between geography, environment and socio-political transformation.  Similarly, local language patterns, regional religious practices, musical styles, mythology, food culture, sartorial fashion, architectural design, agricultural and transportation technologies and engineering and trade networks have all been shaped by the structure of mountain barriers, bounded valley communities and bracketed lines of communication that follow river systems.  Whereas the political economy of the Himalayas has been structured around agricultural production, and the development of elaborate field terrace systems, there have also been subsidiary economies centered on trans-Himalayan trade and pilgrimage as well as pastoral nomadism and transhumance.  Since the colonial period, the Himalayas have increasingly become a place for rest, relaxation, tourism and adventure, and this – along with further political transformations since Indian independence -- has led to the rapid development of urban areas. 

This course will provide a survey of Himalayan history, society and culture with virtual, remote tours that focus on the relationship between nature, the environment and geography.

 

Religion and Ecology (virtual) (ANTH1798)

Synchronous Meeting: Tuesday 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Explore the sacred mountains of northern India, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet to gain a better understanding of the intersections of religion and ecology.  Journey with pilgrims, monks, and ascetic world renouncers.  Sit on the banks of sacred rivers with priests.  Travel virtually to Rishikesh, birthplace of yoga, and to a high-altitude lake sacred to followers of the Sikh religion.  Circumambulate Mount Kailash, the axis of the world.  Study the mythology of sacred rivers.  Students will find answers to the questions: what is sacred about the Himalaya; who is it sacred to; and how is sacredness maintained?  The conjunction of religion and ecology in this course will be approached in multiple ways. It will include understanding sacredness as something that is omnipresent—existing before and after time—and beyond human comprehension, and also as something that is constructed and requires maintenance and preservation.

Himalayan Biodiversity (virtual) (ANTH1801)

Synchronous Meeting: Wednesday 8:00 – 9:00 am

Ranging in altitude from several hundred meters above sea level to over seven thousand, from subtropical forests to high altitude meadows and deserts, and from areas with little or no rainfall to regions that are among the wettest in the world, the Himalayas define a geographical region of enormous geological variation and biodiversity.  The goal of this course is to gain an understanding of this diversity, with a focus on ethology, the study of animal behavior and the interaction of animal species.  Go on virtual adventures following Ibex, Himalayan bears, elephants, tigers, leopards, blue sheep, and musk deer.  Learn about the epic high-altitude migration of bar headed geese and hundreds of bird and insect species unique to the mountain environment.  Learn why monkeys are both sacred and a menace and how conservation involves a detailed understanding of human/non-human animal interaction.

 

Himalayan Biodiversity (virtual) (ENVSTD1311)

Synchronous Meeting: Wednesday 8:00 – 9:00 am

Ranging in altitude from several hundred meters above sea level to over seven thousand, from subtropical forests to high altitude meadows and deserts, and from areas with little or no rainfall to regions that are among the wettest in the world, the Himalayas define a geographical region of enormous geological variation and biodiversity.  The goal of this course is to gain an understanding of this diversity, with a focus on ethology, the study of animal behavior and the interaction of animal species.  Go on virtual adventures following Ibex, Himalayan bears, elephants, tigers, leopards, blue sheep, and musk deer.  Learn about the epic high-altitude migration of bar headed geese and hundreds of bird and insect species unique to the mountain environment.  Learn why monkeys are both sacred and a menace and how conservation involves a detailed understanding of human/non-human animal interaction.

 

Himalayan Geography (virtual) (ENVSTD1310)

Synchronous Meeting: Tuesday 8:00 – 9:00 am

The Himalayan region is characterized by a tremendous range of social and cultural diversity that corresponds to climatic, ecological and geographical variation, as well as local and regional geopolitical factors.  Historical change from the emergence of early forms of social complexity centered on chiefs and their forts – from which the regional designation of “Garhwal” takes its name – through the development of kingdoms and larger polities shows the intimate link between geography, environment and socio-political transformation.  Similarly, local language patterns, regional religious practices, musical styles, mythology, food culture, sartorial fashion, architectural design, agricultural and transportation technologies and engineering and trade networks have all been shaped by the structure of mountain barriers, bounded valley communities and bracketed lines of communication that follow river systems.  Whereas the political economy of the Himalayas has been structured around agricultural production, and the development of elaborate field terrace systems, there have also been subsidiary economies centered on trans-Himalayan trade and pilgrimage as well as pastoral nomadism and transhumance.  Since the colonial period, the Himalayas have increasingly become a place for rest, relaxation, tourism and adventure, and this – along with further political transformations since Indian independence -- has led to the rapid development of urban areas. 

This course will provide a survey of Himalayan history, society and culture with virtual, remote tours that focus on the relationship between nature, the environment and geography.

 

 

This program is offered to you in partnership with the Hanifl Centre. Located in the Himalayan town of Mussoorie the Hanifl Centre produces educational opportunities for students of all ages interested in learning about the environment.

With an established record of great achievements and international accreditation, Hanifl Centre staff and affiliates base their understanding of the environment on a lifetime of study and experience in the mountains.

Hanifl staff draw on the resources and extensive networks built by the Centre to develop in-depth course content that is unique to the experience of each instructor and curated specifically for Pitt Study Abroad courses.

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts

Nazir Noori

Salam! I’m Nazir and I'm your Study Abroad Program Manager. I was born and raised abroad and went to schools in Afghanistan, Iran, and the U.S. I also took classes in India and United Arab Emirates. I worked for the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and German Foreign Office for over ten years before moving to Pittsburgh in 2014. At the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, I assisted Afghan students to study in the U.S., and now I'm glad I have the opportunity to help you study abroad.

Schedule a Zoom appointment with me below or get in touch with me through email to discuss study abroad options.

 
 

Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways!

  • Log in to Pathways or use the Navigate app
  • Select Appointments > Schedule an Appointment
  • Select Pitt Global as the appointment type
  • Select General Study Abroad as the School/Unit
  • Select Study Abroad Program Specific Questions as the service
  • Select Study Abroad Virtual Advising as the Location
  • Select my name and find a time that works for you

Don't see a time that works for you? Just send me an email!

Your In-Country Contacts

Akshay Shah (Instructor: Himalayan Geography)

Akshay Shah is head of programs at the Hanifl Centre.  He is an environmental activist who has established conservation and leadership programs in the mountains.  He is also a certified Wilderness EMT with expertise in community health and medicine.

Suniti Datta (Instructor: Himalayan Biodiversity)

Suniti Datta has lived in the Himalayas for decades and is an expert in natural history and field biology.  Affiliated with the Wildlife Institute of India he has conducted field research on elephant ethology. He is an avid student of ornithology and the intricate relationship between birds and the mountain environment.

 

You will pay you regular Pitt tuition and fees, according to your in-state or out-of-state residency status. There is no additional cost for you.

Please note that there is a $350 non-refundable deposit when you sign up for the program. This is not an additional cost. The deposit you pay will be credited back to your spring semester bill.

What Else You Need to Know

The program dates and calendar are aligned with the University of Pittsburgh academic calendar for the spring 2021 term.