~ By Taylor Blaire Mosher, COSS media assistant

From May 21-June 6, eight students traveled to the Himalayas to participate in the first Fresno State study abroad course offered in Nepal, Geography 177T, “Cultural Landscape and Environmental Change in the Himalayas.”

The 3-unit course was designed to give students the opportunity to study the unique environmental conditions of the Himalayas and the impact of climate change on mountains and common life in this area.

Dr. Mohan Dangi, Fresno State associate professor of geography and city and regional planning, led the course alongside professors Ram Chaudhary and Dr. Kedar Rijal of Tribhuvan University, the national university of Nepal. Eight Fresno State students enrolled in the study abroad course from a variety of different majors including geography and city and regional planning, anthropology, earth and environmental science, business and deaf education.

These eight students, with a variety of academic backgrounds, came together with eight other student researchers representing six institutions, including Tribhuvan University, and eight of the 75 districts of Nepal as well as various national ethnicities. They were joined by three professors, one scientist and two field assistants, bringing the team to 22 researchers in total.

“When you bring together a group of people with various backgrounds and various levels of education and guide them through research with experts in the field—I don’t know how often you get this opportunity,” Dangi said. “I’ve been to Nepal many times and fell in love with the people of the mountain regions. I wanted to try to understand their local problem and bring some sort of awareness, because these problems are also global.”

The student and faculty research team spent the week performing extensive research in the Annapurna area of the Himalayan mountain range, particularly in Ghandruk, a small village nestled in the mountains. Their research focused on environmental concerns in five primary areas: air, water, soil, forests and solid waste.

The two-week trip concluded with a student presentation held on June 4 in Kathmandu that was attended by Nepal’s former prime minister Jhalanath Khanal and national and international experts. After their return home, the students in the course spent the next four weeks organizing their research and composing a final report.

“This course was a unique and wonderful experience having taken place within the beautiful and challenging country of Nepal,” said Harold Gallagher, a Fresno State geography and city and regional planning student and retired aviation and aerospace professional, who attended the course. “The course objectives and the area in which it took place were matched like no other course I have had the privilege of attending. Dr. Dangi has been most successful in creating and leading this course through its completion. The effort expended by Dr. Dangi has paid off handsomely and all the students are richer for that effort. No other experience in my lifetime can equal the challenges and rewards of Geography 177T.”

The work of the Geography 177T researchers garnered a wide range of press coverage in both national and international news media, and the team held a press meeting in Pokhara, Nepal, following the conclusion of their research. To view two articles from international news media, visit the links below.

The Himalayan Times – “Scientists conclude study in Annapurna area

Recent Fusion – “Environmental research carried out in Annapurna Region

Dangi says he will be offering the course for a second time next summer from May 21-June 7, 2018.

For photos from the trip, flip through the slideshow below.

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