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Local Knowledge & Sustainable Development in the Himalayas

Local Knowledge & Sustainable Development in the Himalayas
Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday: A special screening of the rough-cut of Helena Norberg-Hodge’s new documentary, The Economics of Happiness. In 1975 she was one of the first Westerners to visit Ladakh, or Little Tibet, where she witnessed the psychological, as well as ecological impacts of the global consumer culture on once thriving and sustainable communities. The film highlights the psychological, social, and ecological benefits of economic localization, and the steps—at the community, national, and international levels—that can bring us there. A Q&A with the director will follow the screening.

Saturday: This workshop will bring together local and international actors who have been engaged in forms of sustainable development that integrate local forms of knowledge. During the course of the workshop we will see how these individuals have incorporated local knowledge in initiatives such as social entrepreneurship, environmental protection, pastoral development, and alternative economies.

Sangay Gya

Sangay Gya
Nationalities Normal College, Qinghai Normal University
Professor and Vice-President

Sangay Gya is an influential figure in developing Tibetan and Chinese bilingual teaching methods and curriculum for mathematics, science, and sustainable development. He is the deputy director of Qinghai Snowland Great Rivers Environmental Protection Association and has also been the principal facilitator for various education-related projects of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Oxfam, World Wide Fund for Nature, China’s National Ministry of Education, and more. His numerous publications include Tibetan-language geometry, algebra, and chemistry textbooks and teaching materials, edited volumes on Tibetan Buddhist sustainable development education, and papers on Tibetan astrology, Tibetan pastoral resources, and bilingual education research.

Jigme Gyaltsen

Jigme Gyaltsen
Jigme Gyaltsen Nationalities Vocational School, Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Jigme Gyaltsen holds a degree from Qinghai Nationalities University and has studied at several prominent Tibetan Buddhist colleges. To promote his vision for educational reform, in 1994 Jigme Gyalsten established the Jigme Gyaltsen Nationalities Vocational School in Golok Prefecture, Qinghai Province, which now has 730 students from several provinces. In order to support the school, in 2000, Jigme Gyaltsen established Snowland Treasure Co., Ltd., which makes and sells European-style cheese made from local yak milk. Incorporating traditional Tibetan dairy production practices with guidance from international cheese artisans, the cheese has been sold abroad and featured as a Slow Food Presidium. Most recently, he has established the Machen Rajun Girl's School, the first school of its kind for girls in Tibetan areas, which now has 340 students.

Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena Norberg-Hodge
International Society for Ecology and Culture and the Ladakh Project

Helena Norberg-Hodge, a native of Sweden and a linguist by training, is a leading critic of conventional notions of growth and development. She is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), which examines root causes of social and environmental crises, while promoting more sustainable and equitable patterns of living. Its activities include The Ladakh Project and Local Food Programme among others. She is the author of numerous works including Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, based on her first-hand experience of the effects of conventional development in Ladakh. Her work has received wide support and recognition and in 1986 she received the Right Livelihood Award, known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize.”

Tsering Wangdu Shakya

Tsering Wangdu Shakya
Institute for Asian Research, University of British Columbia
Canadian Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia

Tsering Shakya, a native of Lhasa, is a renowned scholar on both historic and contemporary Tibet. He earned his Ph.D. in Tibetan Studies from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). His most expansive work to date, The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947 (1999), is the first comprehensive account of Tibet's recent history. He was also co-editor of the first anthology of modern Tibetan short stories and poems, Song of the Snow Lion, New Writings from Tibet (2000), as well as a study of the relationship between senior British colonial officers and Tibetan elite as depicted in rare, previously unpublished photographs taken by members of the British Mission in Lhasa in Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936-1947 (2003).


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