Sacred Boundaries: Faith, Ecology, and the Politics of the Himalayas
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: University-wide Programs
Department: Global Studies
Course Number: UGLB 3330
Course Format: Workshop
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Global Studies
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Studies
This course will explore sacred sites that cross international boundaries. It looks specifically at the Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL) that spans the borders of China, India and Nepal, and how it becomes a unique global space in which ecology, economy, and politics converge in unexpected ways. KSL covers an area of 31,000 sq. km including parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Uttarakhand State in northern India, and Far-western Nepal. Mount Kailash is considered the holiest of mountains by Hindus and Buddhists. For thousands of pilgrims who make the arduous journey to this mountain every year, it is the closest place on Earth to heaven, where ordinary humans are spiritually transformed. This course examines the following questions: How have 20th century national borders forced indigenous groups to reorient and reconfigure their centuries-old trans-Himalayan traditions, livelihood patterns and identity? How is globalization in the form tourists and modern transportation changing the economic basis of life, and with it notions of the sacred? As the source of four major rivers that sustain billions of people, how is climate change affecting this sacred space and with what implications for sustainable stewardship of this most vital resource? The class will draw from field notes, policy briefs, institutional reports, academic papers, audio-visual materials and online sources. This course is a unique opportunity for students to learn about most recent developments in the Himalayan region through the India China Institute’s Sacred Himalaya Initiative.
Course Open to: Degree Students


Open to Undergraduate students.