Comparative Studies in Sustainable Living (NEPAL)
8 - 23 September 2017: A journey in ancient systems and modern realities, this course is structured over a 16 day trek to a remote and highly traditional rural region in order to provide a lived understanding of the transition between traditional, localised economies and the modern globalised economy. Unlike anything currently on offer when it comes to learning for sustainable futures, this course is structured to drive radical paradigm shifts.
Participants will be immersed in a culture of self-sufficiency rooted in an innate understanding of the local environment, with strong emphasis on the comparison of student's home contexts , in order to understand in practical terms how globalisation and the spread of consumer cultures affects both personal and global sustainability outcomes in the global South. Participants will address a core question: "In trying to solve the sustainability challenges we face, what lessons can my community and I take from remote communities and traditional knowledge systems?" In order to allow space for student's own context and complex stories to inform the lessons they take away from this course, heavy emphasis is placed on allowing students to co-create their personal lines of inquiry. Through the lived experience of different ways of being and living, students are expected to have acquired an alternative platform from which to critically reflect on their own lives and social patterns within their communities - with particular reference to the (un)sustainability of their own practice. A range of philosophies and global measurements and wellbeing indicators are introduced which serve as a conceptual framework to underpin the learning experience. This conceptual grounding is combined with a lived experience of an ancient socio-ecological system in a state of rapid transition, so as to provoke fresh insights and creativity for solving specific sustainability challenges students face in their own communities and careers. On completion, students will be able to explain, in practical terms, some of the benefits, as well as major challenges and drawbacks of globalisation and the spread of consumer capitalism. Included in this will be how the connection of traditional societies to globalised systems influences social norms and values, changes the design of built environments, and shifts the way in which societies perceive their relationship with their supporting ecosystems.
This course is for students and working professionals seeking to gain gritty, practical insights and experience within emerging economies and successful development organisations, or those looking to deepen their understanding of sustainability and wellbeing. Participation in this module will require a good level of physical fitness and a willingness to spend time in very remote areas traveling on foot. Accommodation will be a mix of very basic local lodging and camping, in areas devoid of any tourist infrastructure.