Studying Abroad in the Kingdom of Bhutan

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By Kathleen Brickner, Naropa Environmental Studies student

Studying abroad creates some of the most fruitful learning experiences one can have.

Being in a new culture, and furthermore studying in and with a new culture, brings about inner changes and fresh perspectives on life that one could not possibly imagine.

The relationship between Naropa University and the country of Bhutan goes back further than just the past three years of the international, study abroad program. Bhutan, a Buddhist country, and Naropa, a Buddhist-inspired university—are karmically intertwined through deep history of Buddhism.

Bhutan is one of the least developed countries in the world, yet it has one of the most developed theories of governance, Gross National Happiness (GNH).

During my time in Bhutan, I choose to research and write about GNH in education and its relationship with ethical economics and ecological sustainability. GNH is currently being implemented from the roots of Bhutan via education and goes hand-in-hand with Naropa University philosophies.

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Education promoting GNH provides a holistic approach for development that not only contributes to individual wisdom, but also helps to create positive societal and environmental outcomes. Naropa is also fostering its students in this way, and I am beyond grateful to have a college-level education that is not simply run of the mill.

UN secretary General Kofi Annan said,

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development. To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.

Naropa has given me many tools to know myself, others, and the world around me.

The Bhutan Study Abroad program has not just been a tool in my tool belt, but a foundation that I have built with the help of Naropa’s own goal to produce wholesome students of life. Bhutan’s form of governance is truly providing a template the rest of the world can learn from.

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His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgel Wangchuck 5th King of Bhutan put it very well:

“Our Nations vision can only be fulfilled if the scope of our dreams and aspirations are matched by the reality of our commitment to nurturing our future citizens.”

I cannot think of a better way to nurture future generations than to help them become conscious, global citizens. If at any point in life, one has the opportunity to study in a different culture, I highly suggest you do so.

My experience has shown me that your personal evolution seems to defy the years you have spent on this planet, which becomes a benefit not only to you, but also to those whose lives you touch.


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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.