Generous financial support for the conference has been provided by the Study Abroad Office, University of Pittsburgh; a Year of Pitt Global Grant from the University Centre for International Studies, University of Pittsburgh; Faculty Development Funds from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh; the Asian Studies Centre, University of Pittsburgh; and the Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study.

Goals and Agenda

The primary goal of this academic conferences is to develop a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary understanding of environmental problems in the Himalayan region, to formulate recommendations on how best to address these issues, and to develop strategies for educational development that will increase public understanding and awareness of Himalayan environmental challenges, both in India and elsewhere in the world. A secondary goal that builds on this is to develop strategies that will enable students at all levels of education to “learn from the Himalayas” through outdoor, experiential study and engaged participation in environmental programs. A third, practical goal is to use insights gained from the conference to enhance the curriculum of the three University of Pittsburgh study abroad programs that are based at the Hanifl Centre: Pitt in the Himalaya, Wilderness First Responders and Environmental Health, and CBA Outdoor Leadership.


The objectives for the conference are to develop recommendations for the development of environmental educational programs for students in India as well as in other countries. A fundamental assumption is that increased public awareness based on education that produces an understanding of the nature and extent of environmental problems in the Himalaya will be critical to the development and implementation of effective policies. It is anticipated that the conference will produce informed insight on experiential educational programs that take advantage of the Himalayan region as a vast, outdoor classroom, highlighting the challenges of climate change and the importance of conservation and sustainable, environmentally conscientious development.

Programme and Panel Details

12:00 PM - 03:30 PM - Arrival at Claridges Nabha Palace

03:30 PM - Transfer from Claridges to Hanifl

04:00 PM - 05:00 PM - Tea, Hanifl Centre

05:00 PM - 05:30 PM - Orientation, Hanifl Centre

06:00 PM - 07:00 PM - Keynote, Hanifl Centre

- Introduction: Stephen Alter

- Dhritiman Mukherjee: A Visual Journey Through Himalayan Biodiversity

07:30 PM - Reception and Welcome Dinner, Hanifl Centre (By invitation)

08:15 AM - Transfer from Claridges to Hanifl Centre

09:00 AM - 09:15 AM - Welcome and Thanks

09:15 AM - 10:30 AM - Presentations

- Sushil Ramola: Sustainable Mountain Development

- Jiban Mani Poudel: Himalayan Environment: A School to Promote Sustainable Development

- Ravina Aggarwal: Rivers of Resilience in the Himalayas

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM - Tea Break

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Discussion

- Moderator: Joseph S. Alter, University of Pittsburgh

- Questions: How does an appreciation for indigenous knowledge in the Himalaya change the way in which environmentalism is understood on different levels: locally, regionally, nationally and globally?

- How should we integrate Himalayan indigenous knowledge into education and policy?

12:30 PM - 01:30 PM - Lunch, Hanifl Centre

02:00 PM - 05:30 PM - Guided tour of Jabarkhet Nature Reserve

05:30 PM - Transfer from JNR to Claridges for Panelists

07:00 PM - Dinner, Claridges Nabha Palace (By invitation)

08:00 AM - Transfer from Claridges to Hanifl

08:45 AM - 10:30 AM - Presentations

- Maharaj K. Pandit: Let Deep Science Seep Deeper into the Himalayan Civil Society

- Kathryn Hardy: Dirt and the Buffalo: Purity, Pollution, and Interspecies Lifeworlds in Varanasi

- Ghazala Shahabuddin: People, Birds and Forests in the Himalayas: A Blueprint for Conservation.

- Gopal S. Rawat: Strategies to Revamp Environmental Education in the Indian Himalayan Region.

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM - Tea Break

10:45 AM - 11:30 AM - Discussion

Moderator: - Akshay Shah, Hanifl Centre

Questions: - How do human/non-human animal relations in the Himalaya change the way in which we understand ecology and the environment?

Is biodiversity in the Himalaya different from biodiversity in other contexts and environments? What are the specific challenges that face conservation efforts in the Himalayan region?

11:30 AM – 11:45 AM - Transfer from Hanifl to Woodstock School for Panelists

11:45 AM – 12:30 PM - Tour of Woodstock School

12:30 PM – 01:15 PM - Lunch at Woodstock School

01:30 PM – 01:45 PM - Transfer from Woodstock to Hanifl Centre for Panelists

02:00 PM – 03:30 PM - Presentations

Pasang Yangjee Sherpa - Climate Change in Sacred Himalaya

Brian G. McAdoo - How Do Geohazards Affect Humans and Humans Affect Geohazards? Examples from the Anthropocene

Valentina Zuin - How Can Environmental Education Benefit Local Communities?

Mahesh Rangarajan - Nature and Nation: History and Ecology in the New Century

03:30 PM – 04:00 PM - Tea Break

04:00 PM - 05:00 PM - Discussion

Moderator - K. Krishnan Kutty, Hanifl Centre

Questions - How do geology, topography and landscape shape our understanding of the environment and environmental problems in the Himalaya? How can we use cosmology, mythology, geological time and ecological history in the Himalaya to better understand and teach about the environment?

06:00 PM - 09:00 PM - Reception and Dinner, Oakville (By invitation)

08:00 AM - Transfer from Claridges to Hanifl for Panelists

09:00 AM - 10:30 AM - Presentations

Sejal Worah - The Himalayas: Searching for Sustainable Development

Kireet Kumar - Monitoring and Management of Water Resources in Western Himalaya

Alark Saxena - Sustaining Himalayan Diversities: A Call for Interdisciplinarity

Sanjay Sondhi - Promoting Sustainable Community-Based Conservation and Livelihood Programs in the Himalayas: Opportunities and Challenges

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM - Tea Break

10:45 AM – 11:30 AM - Discussion

Moderator - Suniti Bhushan Datta, Hanifl Centre

Question - What are the ethical and moral standards for environmental activism in the Himalaya? How should we understand sustainable development as a framework for environmental activism? If development is sustainable, can it benefit everyone? If not, who -- or what -- should benefit from Himalayan sustainable development projects?

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM - Wrap-up and Debrief

Joseph S. Alter, University of Pittsburgh

K. Krishnan Kutty, Hanifl Centre

12:30 PM – 01:30 PM - Lunch

01:30 PM - Transfer from Hanifl Centre to Claridges

Departure on Airline Schedule