Study Abroad in Bhutan: Academics

Students of many different backgrounds and interests will benefit from the Bhutan study abroad program. In additional to the three courses (9 credits) taught by Naropa's in-country faculty member, students will choose two classes (6 credits) at one of the Royal University of Bhutan campuses that has partnered with Naropa.

Each campus of RUB specializes in a particular educational arena: Language and Culture Studies, Natural Resources, and Education (please see below for descriptions of each RUB campus, as well as course descriptions for spring 2016). In addition to their areas of specialization, each campus offers courses related to Bhutanese culture and society, enabling Naropa study abroad students the opportunity to pursue their special area of interest while deepening their knowledge and understanding of Bhutan as a whole.

Applicability of Credit

For Naropa students, many of the courses offered through the Naropa Bhutan study abroad program apply towards core, major or minor requirements. The applicability of these credits towards one's degree requirements means that many students can participate in this study abroad opportunity while still graduating on time. To see where each class fits into core and major requirements, visit the Academics page for Study Abroad. Please see your academic advisor for specific information on how these classes will fit into your degree plan.

Students visiting from other universities will need to check with their academic advisor to confirm how these courses will apply towards their degree.

Course Descriptions for Courses Taught by Naropa's In-Country faculty

All students participating in Naropa's Bhutan study abroad program will take the following three courses, taught by Naropa's in-country faculty member and a faculty member from RUB. These courses will begin during the 3-week in-country orientation. Students will work independently on these courses after moving to the RUB campus of their choice. For Naropa students, all three courses are considered "in–residence."

BSA 325 Traditional Culture and Contemporary Issues of Bhutan (3)

This course is designed to introduce students to historical and contemporary Bhutanese culture, including Geography, History, Politics, Ethnography, Religions and Cultural values, both ancient and modern. This course seeks to locate students' understanding within the Bhutanese view of their world through the lens of Gross National Happiness. Students will feel competent and prepared in essential aspects of daily life in Bhutan.

BSA 335 Contemplative Intercultural Studies (3)

This course is an introduction to contemplative practice, exploring the interface between meditation practice and cross-cultural experience, and how they can creatively inform each other. We explore and train in a variety of contemplative practices including methods drawn from Bhutan’s rich spiritual tradition. In the context of cross cultural experience, we explore ways in which fixed beliefs and schemas create suffering and confusion in our lives. Students are challenged to go beyond habitual responses and generalizations and cultivate deeper levels of compassion and global understanding.

BSA 350 Guided Independent Study: Bhutan (3)

This course invites students to explore and research a topic about Bhutan - its people, environment, culture and current issues. Students will carry out their independent study project during their semester at the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) under the guidance of the NU faculty and the designated RUB faculty mentor at their respective campuses. Following the guidelines specified in the syllabus, students select a topic, have it approved and carry it to completion in the form of a final paper and formal presentation. Topics may be related to the student's area of focus or academic discipline in their BA studies.

Royal University of Bhutan

In addition to the three classes taught by Naropa's in-country faculty member, students will choose two classes from one of the following campuses (please click on the name of the campus to read course descriptions for spring 2016 classes). For Naropa students, these classes will be considered non-resident courses.

For the Spring 2016 semester, students may choose to study at:

The College of Natural Resources

CNR is a beautiful campus, designed with traditional Bhutanese architectural elements. It is about three hours outside of Thimphu over an 11,000 foot pass, and is close to the town of Wandue Photrang. Its natural setting is highly conducive to the academic emphasis of the campus, which includes animal science, agriculture, forestry, and sustainable development.

The campus features experimental farms and animal husbandry facilities, and is surrounded by forests. The campus is self-contained, yet small villages surrounding the campus are easily accessible to students.

CNR offers a potential array of experiential courses for Western students interested in the environment and agriculture.

Room and Board
Naropa students would live in self-catering hostels, which are dorms with small kitchens. Meditation space is available on the top story of each hostel. Showers are available, but with only cold water. There are washing machines available on campus.

Paro College of Education

PCE is located on a hillside adjacent to the town of Paro on an attractive campus designed with traditional Bhutanese architectural elements. All academic and housing facilities are in close proximity, and the campus is landscaped with a pleasing array of flowering plants and trees. Roads and pathways are well paved or cobbled. Auditoriums, sports halls, library and classrooms incorporate the use of wood and traditional motifs.

Paro College offers courses in primary and secondary teacher education and includes a small number of counseling courses.

Room and Board
Self-catering hostels (dorms with kitchens) are available only for girls. Boys will stay in the regular hostels, and take meals at the dining mess hall. PCE has a new dining mess hall, equipped with modern kitchen facilities. The girls' self-catering hostel has hot water showers (when available); all clothes washing will need to be done by hand.

Institute of Language & Culture Studies

The ILCS campus is located on a hilltop overlooking the Trongsa district, an hour's drive from the town of Trongsa, and a six hours drive from Thimphu. It is a new campus with an impressive scale of modern architecture and with an integrated campus design. The campus is still actively undergoing construction of new dorms and other additions. It offers a new library, assembly hall, dance and performance rooms, as well as computer labs and classrooms. The campus has one small village adjacent to it with limited facilities, and other villages are too distant for student access.

ILCS is a new campus that has a strong focus on traditional arts and culture. They have designed a new BA in Bhutanese and Himalayan Studies that they envisioned with international students joining in mind.

Room and Board
Students are housed in segregated men and women's hostels, which will offer self-catering in the future when facilities are completed. Currently, students take meals in a dining mess hall. Walks between some areas of the campus involve rough trails through construction areas. The classrooms and library are modern, comfortable, and spacious, and built to accommodate a rapidly increasing student population.

College of Natural Resources classes

CNR Courses within B.Sc. in Sustainable Development

BSOC 102 Bhutanese Society and Culture (3)

This module on Society and Culture is developed by relating to the four pillars of Gross National Happiness (GNH) with an attempt to establish how culture infuses into each of the pillars thus contributing vitally to the realization of GNH. Through this module students not only understand the basic fabrics of Bhutanese society, and fundamental aspects of culture that identify Bhutanese society from the rest to the world, but at the same time students acquire a firm understating of GNH more from a cultural perspective which intricately is more pervasive than any single material of GNH. This module helps the graduates establish themselves as culturally sensitive persons and appreciate cultural values and principles.

BEVS 202 Environmental Studies (3)

This module provides knowledge and skills on concepts of environment and its degradation. It aims to impart knowledge on the emerging environmental issues in the international and national context. It also leads to understanding environmental practices and applying skills to manage emerging environmental issues.

BEVS 102 Introduction to Ecology and Ecosystems (3)

The general objective of this module is to introduce students to the concept of ecology and ecosystems. This helps students in appreciating the dynamic nature of an ecosystem. It covers the basic principles of population, community and ecosystem ecology. It covers ecosystem ecology extensively with studies on energy and material flux, productivity, and freshwater and forest ecology. It also gives practical experience in field ecology.

BDEV 101 Introduction to Sustainable Development (3)

This module aims to introduce students to the core concepts and challenges of sustainable development as well as the institutions and approaches addressing these challenges. Particular attention is given to the role of sustainable livelihoods in urban and rural contexts. Students are expected to learn about goals, indicators and monitoring and evaluation systems in development practice. Finally this module focuses on Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a model for sustainable development.

BNRM 305 Climate Change: Vulnerability, Mitigation and Adaptation (3)

This module provides insight into one of the burning climatic issues, how climate change can affect our daily lives and what are the factors responsible for causing climatic change. The module also leads to understanding how the world as a community is combating the climate change mitigation and adaptive measures are being undertaken globally.

COM 201 Intro to Development Communication (3)

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the concept, theories and principles of development communication, the role of development communication in development, and the process, tools and techniques of communication to bring about social change. It will provide students the understanding of how to design and evaluate communication interventions and tools in different context and situations.

PHD 201 Public Heath for Sustainable Development (3)*
*(offered spring 2016 pending official approval from Naropa's Curriculum Committee)

The aim of this module is to provide non-health students with a basic understanding of public health issues as they relate to sustainable development challenges and objectives. The module will focus on MDGs 1 (hunger), 4 (child health), 5 (maternal heath), and 6 (HIV, malaria and other diseases) as well as on other health issues and their interdependence with GNH and the MDGs. In addition, challenges to health systems and barriers to access are addressed.

ECN 201 Development Economics (3)

The overall aim of this module is to acquire and transmit knowledge to students to support more informed decision making regarding agriculture activities, technologies, business, etc. so that it can make a difference in the lives and living standards of the rural population.

AGR 102 Sustainable Livestock Production (3)

This module will acquaint students with the importance of livestock rearing, different systems of livestock production, sustainability issues in these different systems, and explore options for sustainable livestock production.

AGR 202 Sustainable Crop Production (3)

The module aims to equip students with a basic knowledge and skills on the principles and practices of sustainable crop production focusing on field crops, fruit and vegetable production. The module also aims in the application of critical thinking skills across all the units taught.

DEV 202 Sustainable Infrastructure Development (3)

This module aims to introduce students to general concepts in urban and rural planning and to explore key components of infrastructure development as they relate to poverty and sustainability. Students will learn about current policies and practices in Bhutan, as well as alternative and emerging approaches to sustainable infrastructure development.

GIS 301 Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (3)

GIS (Geographical Information System) usage is booming in industrial, governmental and private sectors, and more so in non-governmental organisations. This module aims to explain the basic concepts of mapping science and GIS technology. The module allows students to explore the possible ways for utilizing GIS tools for specific problem solving in sustainable development issues. It will develop GIS techniques using ArcGIS software and require students to produce a report using the available database in the college or online. The module gives a very brief concept on Remote Sensing Technology and the applications of satellite imageries for land use and change mapping. GPS (global positioning system) instruments allow students as an alternative method of acquiring geo-spatial data for application in geospatial analysis. This module will also orient the students towards greater employability in the geo-spatial industries.

NRM 301 Integrated Watershed Management (3)

This module aims to provide basic concept of Integrated Watershed Management and skill in planning integrated watershed management.

NRM 302 Community-based Natural Resource Management and Ecotourism (3)

Community-based natural resource management will provide a broad concept encompassing its definitions, history, principles, theory and practice with cases on different types of community based natural resources. It also focuses into various tools and techniques for effective CBNRM planning and mediation techniques to resolve CBNRM related conflicts. It touches on the necessity of policy advocacies of the government as to ensuring/enabling CBNRM work and be sustainable. The second part of this module also introduces the concept of ecotourism. The tourism development through rural community is one of the important aspects of this module which focuses on rural development.

NRM 304 Environmental Governance and Sustainable Land Management (3)

The general objective of this module is to provide theoretical knowledge and skills needed to understand the environmental governance. It will also explain the basic principles of environmental stewardships that are related to sustainable land management and is essential to sustainable development.


CNR Courses within B.Sc. in Environment and Climate Studies

DEN 102 Dendroscience (3)

To provide knowledge and skills upon academic and practical uses of tree growth limiting factors, structural organization, wood anatomical formation, annual tree-ring features of both conifer and broad-leaved tree species and their relation to dendrochronology, environment and climate. To provide skills in applications of dendrochronology for dating tree-rings, reconstructing past climate, building tree growth-climate relationship, establishing geomorphological, glaciological, ecological and hydrological events for the use in research of environment and climate.

CLM 102 Hydrology (3)

This module will equip the students with knowledge on the movement, distribution, and quality of water including hydrological cycle, snow and water resources constrained by climate variability and change and its impact.

NRM 101 Water Resource Management (3)

This module provides insight on water resources and their management linking environment, society and Institutions including multidimensional factors leading to effective water resources management through case studies. This module also provides the basic understanding on social and economic aspects of Integrated of Water Resources Management (IWRM) related to water resources, environment and their management.

GES 102 Geology and Soil Science (3)

This module will provide theories regarding origin and modification of the earth and its landforms through geological time scale. This will also include academic research and practical uses of geological formation particularly Himalayas and their products in controlling change of climate and evolution and distribution of plant species. As such, this module focuses on geological time scale, geological processes, structure and composition of major rocks, soil formation and minerals. The module will also provide the students with the practical knowledge and skills necessary for the examination and mapping of soils in the field. Plant species evolution, adaptation, diversity and distribution in accordance with rock and soil types under different climatic conditions will be covered to answer questions on interaction between two natural sciences for management and utilization by people.

CLM 103 Introduction to Meteorology and Climatology (3)

Introduction to Meteorology and Climatology module is specifically designed to understand the basics of interaction between natural environment and climate. The module specifically aims to familiarize and introduces the students to understand the basic of environmental science, meteorology, climatology and its application to understand the natural environment.


CNR Courses within B.Sc. in Animal Sciences

BAWP 301 Animal Welfare and Environmental Physiology (3)

This module aims to provide students the knowledge on the importance of considering animal welfare in order to maintain health and productivity and also to avoid unnecessary sufferings to animals under any kind of environment. It also provides the students the understanding of the physiological mechanisms that animals use to cope with both “typical” and more extreme environmental challenges. The module will also provide a deeper understanding of the effect of environment on the physiology and performance of the animals in order to devise ways to prevent or alleviate the stress.

CNR Courses within B.Sc. in Forestry

BBOT 301 Systemic Botany and Ethnobotany (3)

This module aims to introduce the students to systematic and ethnobotany, specifically the classification and evolution, plant taxonomy and identification with an emphasis on ecologically and economically important families, genera and species. Emphasis is also given to document, describe and explain complex relationships between cultures and (uses of) plants. Focus is on understanding plant knowledge process and how the uses of plants have shaped past cultural developments, to develop an appreciation for the critical roles of plants in the society and to become aware of the roles that plants and their management play for a sustainable future. Students will also learn on preparing and preserving herbarium specimens.

NRM 305 Forest Management and Planning (3)

To provide basic knowledge and skills on sustainable forest management and forest management planning. This module provides students with the theoretical and practical skills needed in sustainable forest management. This also lead the students to discuss and review the theoretical principles, practices and policies related to sustainable forest management.

Paro College of Education classes

BEDN 104 Creative Arts in Lower Primary (3)

Student teachers learn how the creative arts (visual arts, music, drama and dance) can provide opportunities for personal expression, enjoyment, creative action, imagination, emotional response, aesthetic pleasure and the creation of shared meanings. Student teachers learn how to explore social and cultural values about spiritual and worldly beliefs through active engagement in the creative arts. Student teachers develop personal expertise in all forms of the creative arts through hands on studio based activities.

BEDN 206 Play and Development (3)

Upon completion of this module, students should be able to appreciate the importance of play in relation to various aspects of child’s development, recognize play as a means of self-expression and as a channel of communication and be able to incorporate it into children’s curriculum.

BEDN 209 Introduction to Educational Action Research (3)

This module aims at:
6.1 introducing student teachers to the general concept of research; 6.2 providing student teachers a general idea as to how and why educators read, write and conduct research; 6.3 orienting student teachers to (thinking in words and numbers as a way toward differentiating) quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods; 6.4 understanding the importance of “Action Research” in reflective practice; 6.5 providing hands on experience in developing research tools; 6.6 doing a good review of the literature on a given research topic; 6.7 developing an action research proposal; 6.8 collecting data and making sense of the data collected and 6.9 familiarizing student teachers research ethics.

BEDN 310 Multi-Grade Teaching (3)

The purpose of this module is to develop an understanding and appreciation of the elements underpinning effective learning and to acquire the necessary skills to plan and implement effective learning strategies in the multi-grade classrooms. The module will also discuss the different definitions used for the multi grade strategy of teaching and address the pertinent issues of classroom management, organization, and student assessment.  Constructivism and active learning will form the philosophy which will guide the delivery of this module to the learners.

BEDN 312 Creative Arts in Upper Primary (3)

The intent of the module is to focus on how children talk, write, draw, dance and sing their understanding of the world in which they live. This will inform how our teachers, parents and community can influence a child’s early development by understanding their language of learning which entails many forms of symbolic representation: talk, print (reading and writing), drawing, multiple forms of visual art-making, performing arts including song and dance, drama and movement.

BEDN 313 Teaching Practice (3)

Teaching Practice (TP) provides opportunities for the student teachers to practice the skills and strategies that they have learned through lectures and studies in a real classroom situation. The student teachers will be exposed with the school curriculum and other organizational systems through constant interaction with the students and teachers in the respective schools. Further, it will enable student teachers to develop their professional competencies.

BEDN 307 Education for Development (3)

This module aims at making the student teachers able to discuss with confidence the importance of education in the development of individual, society and the nation. They will be able to visualize the role played by education in determining the level of economic prosperity, welfare and security of the nation. Further, the students will be able to recognize the role of education in achieving Bhutan’s development philosophy: Gross National Happiness.

BEDN 420 Guidance and Counseling (3)

The aim of this module is to orient student teachers with basic knowledge and skills of school guidance and counseling programme to facilitate and integrate appropriate application of the knowledge and skills to help their students.

BVIC1104 Visual Communication (3)

Through this module, students will be introduced the elements of visual communication and design principles – the Components of Composition. Once familiarised, they will use these concepts to create effective visuals for classroom instruction. They will be equipped with basic tools and techniques necessary for successful transmission of information and inspirational ideas in teaching and learning.


Institute of Language & Culture Studies Courses

BBTN 201 The Cultural Heritage of Bhutan I (3)

This module will introduce students to Bhutanese cultural heritage. While the module will introduce students to the concept of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the module will particularly focus on the material aspects of culture in the nation. They will learn about the characteristics and significance of various architecture, tools, dress, food, arts and games that are traditionally Bhutanese. Additionally, domestic and international culture policies will be examined in order to understand government and international approaches to preserving and promoting culture and arts. Students that successfully complete this module will be guided towards becoming focal people in preservation and promotion of Bhutanese cultural heritage.

BHIM 203 Religions of Himalayan Territories II (3)

A continuation of Religions of the Himalayan Territories I, this module is designed to continue giving the students a general introduction to major religions that exist in the region. Bhutanese students will become familiar with different forms of Buddhism and also learn about alternative approaches to religion. In the module, students will gain an understanding of significant aspects of the theoretical, practical, and social expressions of these religions, allowing the students to appreciate both similarities and differences between Buddhism and other traditions. Understanding and appreciating these similarities and differences will allow students to empathize better with peoples of the Himalayan region, particularly other Buddhists, and will thus be in a better position to understand and collaborate with others in their country, region, as well as internationally.

BBTN 304 The Cultural Heritage of Bhutan II (3)

This module aims to build upon what students learned in “The Cultural Heritage of Bhutan I” module, as well as earlier modules, in order to gain a deeper understanding in the performances and practices associated with aspects of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. In particular, students will have the chance to examine the significance and purposes of religious and nonreligious rituals, ceremonies, festivals, dances and musical performances. Through completing coursework for this module, students will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Bhutan’s culture, and its crucial role in distinguishing the nation from other nations. The module aims to emphasize the importance of preservation and promotion, and for understanding and contextualizing students’ individual identities.

BHIM 307 Historical Leaders of the Himalaya (3)

This module aims to provide an opportunity for students to study several significant historical leaders of the Himalayas. Leaders discussed will include spiritual, non-spiritual, and the leaders that are a combination of the two. The origins and contexts of these historically significant leaders will be covered in this module, along with the actions and contributions of these leaders. Students will analyze and interpret the significance of these leaders, as well as historical/political changes or developments that occurred under their rules. Comparison and interrelations among some of the leaders can also be discussed, including the analysis of conflict occurring among Himalayan peoples historically. Through conducting secondary research on these historical figures, students will have the opportunity to gain interest and preliminary knowledge on subtopics that could become relevant for valuable future research after the module ends. They will also gain experience communicating these findings to an audience, both orally and in writing.

BBTN 305 History & Philosophy of Gross National Happiness (3)

Students taking this module will be introduced to the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), including its history and evolution as a tool of measurement and as a development philosophy. They will learn about the four pillars of GNH, and how GNH is being studied and used to guide development and policies in Bhutan. GNH concepts will be thoroughly discussed and compared to Buddhist concepts and international declarations. Students who complete this module are poised to become experts on GNH as a concept and philosophy, and will increase the number of Bhutanese graduates that can become GNH scholars. They can then become focal people in GNH and the country’s development into the future, and take an active role in the country’s policies and activities related to GNH. They will be well-equipped to serve this purpose in both private organizations or government agencies.

BBTN 408 Anthropology & Sociology in Bhutanese Studies (3)

The module aims to broaden students' understanding of anthropological theories, with special focus on the 20th century and recent developments in the field. Students will be introduced to how anthropologists and sociologists perceive and approach major social issues and will apply relevant subject matters learned in the course in the cultural and social issues in Bhutan. The module will encourage students to generate perspectives on relevant cultural and social issues that will positively influence culture change Bhutan. The module will help students become aware of and solve challenges faced by their communities and the nation.

BHIS 406 Indo-Chinese Relations (3)

This module intends to acquaint students with Indo-Chinese relations in the modern era. The module will build on what students learned about the history of India and China, will address impacts of decisions and policies made by both countries. The conflicts, international relations and use of influence regionally and internationally by both countries will be understood from the perspective of Bhutan and other Himalayan territories. Students will thus appreciate how the Indo-Chinese relationship has changed over time, and how it continues to affect all territories in the Himalayan region. As honors graduates are expected to excel in the job market for internationally-focused positions, it will be useful for these students to gain an in-depth knowledge of current international influence and developments in India and China, as they are the big neighbors of every Himalayan territory.

BRES 402 Research Methods in Practices & Field Project (3)

This module is intended to expand upon students' previously learned research skills, and prepare them to carry out basic community research. Students will be guided step by step in completing an oral history project locally towards this end. Oral history has been chosen as the type of research, due to the urgent priority often expressed in Bhutan to document this intangible culture before it disappears (however, the tutor can of course choose to make the data collection on a similarly basic form of community research). The course will be completely student-oriented, and each student's data will be a case study from which others can learn. The course will review relevant previous modules in order to make students well-equipped to collect and analyze oral history data from local community members on a chosen topic. In addition to gaining experience in community research, students will also be contributing to strengthening ties between ILCS and surrounding communities, and contributing to the preservation of Bhutanese cultural heritage.

BCOB 201 Contemporary Bhutan, Institutions and Reforms (3)

This module will prepare the student to their professional life. It will impart them with knowledge, skills and personal development in order to make them informed citizens. This module will also be of particular interest for Bhutanese of different sectors, and especially the tourism sector. It will also attract foreign students in view of the future policy of accepting foreigners at RUB.

BENG 407 Women and Social Change (3)

This module is an attempt to study how women writers from different cultures have used the form to explore a variety of themes, socio-economic impact, character representation, love, tolerance, and challenges faced by the characters in the texts. It introduces the students to three fictional works and enables students to explore women's role within a setting. They will be able to explore the theme of assimilation, and clash of culture. And hence students will examine how life experienced and perceived by women is articulated in their narrative to voice their hopes and anxieties. Thus, through the study of this module they will be able to deconstruct ideologies and assumptions, analyze and synthesize issues, and carry out comparative studies among prescribed texts.

BCHA 101 Masked Dance (3)

This course is designed to introduce students to Bhutan’s unique culture and practice of the masked dance performances. In this course, students are introduced to different kinds of Bhutanese masked dances that are performed in and around the country. The significances, benefits, qualifications, dancing costumes for different mask dances and rationale for its performances are taught in this course in the theory component and at least one or two mask dances in this rigorous dance form are taught in the practical component. This course seeks to establish students’ understanding of its uniqueness and importance for the unique identity of the country. The course also includes a research component in which students choose a topic for their research and present it to the class at the end of the semester.

BLUZ 101 Song and Music (3)

This course invites students to learn and explore Bhutan’s unique cultural practices, songs and music. The origin, dissemination, types of songs; traditional and modern, descriptions in different songs, qualities required for the dancers and singers, pre-requisites to compose the songs, use of languages in the compositions, etc. are taught in the theory components. The students are also taught how to use these Bhutanese traditional musical instruments: Yang chen, Lim, Dram nyen and Piwang. In addition to this, students are taught how dance and will demonstrate their skills in a practical examination. This course is designed to provide the general concept of song and music in the Bhutanese context.