The conference on Trans-Himalayan Environmental Humanities: Integrating Indigenous Mountain Knowledge, Modern Sciences, and Global Endeavours for a Sustainable Himalayan Region was held in Kunming, China from 3–5 November 2019.
The main objective of the conference was to showcase the latest thematic studies on water, climate change, and sustainable living in the greater Himalayan region in the context of the Anthropocene (the geological age of humans) in which most environmental changes are human-induced. Two recent graduates of Royal Thimphu College (RTC), Kinley Choki, BA in Political Science and Sociology and Thinley Dema, BA in English and Environmental Studies, attended the conference. They initially started off as research associates for a project under the Department of Social Sciences at RTC.
The research project, titled ‘Upland livelihood strategies’, was funded by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and Himalayan University Consortium (ICIMOD-HUC) led by Dr. Jelle J.P Wouters (Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences) and Mr. Tshewang Dorji (Associate Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences). The project started in November 2018 and continued for a year. As the project came to an end in September 2019, there was a call for abstracts. Kinley Choki submitted her abstract on ‘Cosmology, Cultural and Climate Change in Bhutan Highlands’ and Thinley Dema submitted hers on ‘Eco-theological and Economic Perspectives of the Three Brother Mountains (Jampelyang, Chenrizi and Chana Dorji) in Bhutan’s Haa District’. They were given the opportunity to write a full paper on their abstracts and present it at the publishing workshop in China. Their papers will be compiled with papers written by other scholars and published in the near future.
The participants were encouraged to discuss about their indigenous experiences of climate change related to observations made by environmental scholars and how humans value the environments in which they live, including how these appreciations change over time and the factors that influence such changes. According to the two RTC graduates, “This opportunity to attend a publishing workshop and to continue writing a paper for publication with great scholars is an ideal opportunity and an enriching experience for us. We convey our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Jelle J.P Wouters for his constant support and guidance throughout this journey and Royal Thimphu College for providing us with the opportunity to work for a research project that lead us this far.”