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Students Study and Research in Indian Himalayas

UM students are in India for the next several weeks on a study abroad course in the Indian Himalayas. They're taking part in two courses led by Professor Keith Bosak: Himalayan Environment and Development and Tourism, Livelihoods and Sustainability in the Himalaya. They'll spend the next three weeks trekking around the Nanda Devi region to study its culture, the environment, and local community development efforts.

This year students are joined by preeminent mountaineerJohn Roskelley who has ascended peaks throughout the world since the early 1970s. John hasn't been back to this region since he was part of a tragic climbing expedition there in 1976. Students will also deliver gear to local guides that was donated and collected here in Missoula. The initiative, called Gear for Garhwal, donates gear to community-owned eco-tourism operators in the region.

Additionally, three University of Montana graduate students went to India last week to work with Indian students and faculty on a research exchange.

The three UM students, all Native Americans, will study issues related to climate change and socioeconomic change in tribal populations in India. In the fall, three Indian graduate students will come to UM for six weeks to learn about tribal culture in Montana.The three UM students are Kim Paul of Browning, Clay Burnett of Arlee and Miranda Laber of St. Ignatius.

Paul is an enrolled member of the Amskapi Pikuni Blackfeet Tribe and also is Northern Cree and Shoshone. She is working toward her master’s in environmental chemistry, Native American studies and biomedical sciences. Burnett is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and is earning his MBA. Laber is a first-generation descendant of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Blackfeet Nation and is studying indigenous education and film.

The United States-India Educational Foundation’s Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative funded this joint research. The grant originally was awarded to Michael Caballos, former director of UM’s Native American Research Lab. When Caballos left UM, the project was reconfigured to focus on tribal regions in the Himalaya.

Read more about the Indian Himalaya Study Abroad course.