Arizona in Bhutan: Spiritual Ecology and Himalayan Buddhism

Arizona in Bhutan: Spiritual Ecology and Himalayan Buddhism
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Dates, Deadlines, and Costs
TermApp DeadlineStart DateEnd DateCost
SummerFebruary 25mid Maymid JuneBudget
Program Information
  • GPA
  • 2.8
  • Language of Instruction
  • English
  • Foreign Language Requirement
  • No
  • Class Eligibility
  • Graduate, Junior, Senior, Sophomore, Freshman
  • Program Open To
  • UA and Non-UA Students
  • Credit Type
  • UA Direct Credit
  • Level of Study
  • Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Housing Options
  • Hotel
  • Program Type
  • UA Faculty-led
Program Overview


Travel to the Kingdom of Bhutan to explore spiritual ecology and Buddhism in the heart of the Himalayas. Conduct mentored research and study the delicate balance between humans, the environment, and ecology through the traditions of Bhutanese culture in this sacred landscape. Students will experience Buddhist temples, monasteries, and pilgrimage sites in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.


Tentative Summer 2017 Dates: May 15 - June 15

Note: The first two weeks of this program will take place on the University of Arizona campus. Students will then travel to Bhutan via Bangkok. Round trip airfare from Bangkok to Bhutan is included in the program cost.

Spiritual Ecology in Himalayan Buddhism (EAS 496C - 3 credits): What technologies have Himalayan Buddhists devised to maintain the delicate balance between humans, environment, and cosmos? This course approaches the study of Himalayan Buddhism though a diverse array of ritual, artistic, medical, literary, and political traditions for maintaining the health and success of individual, community, and kingdom. We will engage with interdisciplinary sources to explore myths of demon-taming, buried treasure texts, and precious pills in this pilgrimage through the sacred landscape of the Himalayas.

Mentored Research in Himalayan Buddhism (EAS 399 - 3 credits): This course will provide mentorship to guide students in navigating the transition between the library and the world of Buddhism on the ground. Students will design individual research projects, familiarize themselves with current research, and collaborate to refine the questions driving the project. Upon arrival in Bhutan, students will have the opportunity to experience new dimensions of their project through visits to key sites like Buddhist temples, monasteries, nunneries, medical and arts institutes, and pilgrimage sites. They will meet with ritual specialists, traditional healers, artists, and scholars to explore their topics more deeply. Through writing and conversation, students will produce a unique work expressive of the academic and experiential aspects of their Himalayan journey. Potential topics for individual research include: Himalayan art, Ritual Dance, Pilgrimage, Buddhism and kingship, traditional medicine, Buddhism and ecology.


Dr. Rae Dachille, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies.


Proposed itinerary:

  • Paro area: Kyichu Lhakhang (one of King Songsten Gampo's demoness-pinning temples)
  • Taktshang Gompa: (site of Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal's demon-taming activities)
  • Shechen Orgyen Chozong Nunnery
  • Haa valley
  • Medical plant expedition and visit to medical factory
  • Royal College of Natural Resources
  • Bhutan National Museum
  • Mebar Tso cave
  • Trongsa Dzong (and museum)
  • Thimphu area: Choki Art School in Kabesa


Students will reside in hotels and will experience a one night homestay.

Links of Interest

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