Image: Dr. Mohan Dangi speaks at the Internationalization of University Education Conference at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Photo provided by Dangi.

Written by BoNhia Lee, University Communications

Dr. Mohan Dangi spent three weeks in Nepal this summer speaking about the environment and studying people’s vulnerability to climate change in the Trans-Himalaya.

Dangi, professor in the Department of Geography and City & Regional Planning in the College of Social Sciences with specialization in environmental science and engineering, and his colleague Dr. Timothy Stearns from the Department of Management in the Craig School of Business, were among six professors from the United States invited to speak at the Internationalization of University Education conference organized by Tribhuvan University on June 9 and 10.

Dr. Timothy Stearns speaks at International Seminar on Environmental Engineering and Management in Pokhara, Nepal. Photo provided by Dr. Mohan Dangi.

Tribhuvan University, Nepal’s oldest and central university, invited internationally-known experts who have studied or have deep interests in Nepal, said Dangi, who started studying solid waste in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, since 2004. He has tackled energy and environmental issues in Nepal since 1998. In 2018, Dangi was a Fulbright Specialist at the Central Department of Environmental Science in Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Nepal.

“(The conference) proffered a venue to have an honest discussion about Nepal’s journey to higher education and showcase highlights of years of work we’ve done as students, as a researcher, and as a professor,” Dangi said.

Speakers at the conference emphasized the need for educational and infrastructural reform in Nepal and suggested active academic collaboration between Tribhuvan University and its partner institutions to meet the changing demands of students and society.

While in Nepal, Dangi and his international colleagues met the President of Nepal and former Prime Minister, had a conversation with country staff of Paani (water) Project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, and carried academic discussions with university officials at Tribhuvan University and Nepal Open University.

Dangi traveled to the city of Pokhara where he and his U.S. colleagues presented in the International Seminar on Environmental Engineering and Management. They also visited Lo Manthang, a town in Upper Mustang located at 12,600 feet in the Himalayas to study how indigenous people are coping with the impacts of climate change in a harsh high mountain setting.

“My research group from the U.S. and Nepal has been consistent in understanding the environmental challenges Nepal faces,” Dangi said. “The topics cover key national environmental problems of Nepal — air, water, soil, solid waste and forest… Addressing these problems in very remote topography and in the highest mountains in the world presents a unique opportunity for us to learn about them, which are also global problems with greater implications.”

Dangi has taken Fresno State and the University of Wyoming students to Nepal four times through study abroad courses.

“We need to make sure that the future generation understands and has opportunity to undertake these global problems before they get worse, and there couldn’t be any better place than Nepal to study and experience the topics because Nepal truly is a living laboratory.”

A day after their conference in Nepal, Dangi and his U.S. and Nepali colleagues announced a Global Conference on Environment & Sustainability to be held in Kathmandu from Nov. 22 to 24, 2020. Tribhuvan University in partnership with Nepal Open University, Far Western University, Kathmandu Institute of Applied Sciences, and faculty and scientists from seven U.S. universities, including Fresno State, Colorado School of Mines, the University of Wyoming, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Florida State, The Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, San Diego will be involved.

Dangi plans to return for the event with number of Fresno State faculty and students, including some of his departmental colleagues and Dr. Michelle DenBeste, dean of the College of Social Sciences. In addition, Dangi is presently recruiting students for his summer 2020 study abroad course in Nepal for which he has received scholarships for 10 students.

Dr. Mohan Dangi and Dr. Timothy Stearns with schoolchildren near the Tibet border. Photo provided by Dr. Mohan Dangi.