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  • Locations: Nainital, India
  • Program Terms: Autumn Quarter
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Information:
sociology italy
 Location Nainital, India
Autumn 2017
Nainital, India
 Estimated    Program Fee $7000 (plus $350 CHID fee)
 Credits 15 UW credits
 Prerequisites Sophomores starting at time of application
 Program      Directors Virginia Van Dyke and John Keith Goyden
 Program Manager Katherine Kroeger |
 Application    Deadline April 15, 2017 - EXTENDED!
 Information  Session(s) Tues, Feb 28, 3:30pm - Thomson Hall 317
  General The 2017 Autumn Quarter UW India Himalaya Study Abroad Program is a ten-week opportunity for UW students to study and live in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The academic focus of the program innovatively combines two understandings of "development" that are deeply enmeshed in the history of the Indian Himalayan region.
Where You Will Study
Expenses, Financial Aid, & Scholarships


Program Description

The 2017 Autumn Quarter UW India Himalaya Study Abroad Program provides an exploration of the society, culture, politics and economics of a rural mountainous location in India's Uttarakhand state. This area is in the midst of dramatic social, environmental and economic change as a largely subsistence economy is impacted by a privatized, commercial economy driven by regional, national and international forces.

The academic emphasis of this program is structured by two courses exploring different aspects of this environment. The political economy course will focus on political and economic transformation, and raise questions of democracy, equity, diversity, gender and socio-economic disparities in Uttarakhand and in India more broadly. Our engagement with these issues will include visits to relevant locations and interactions with activists, politicians, local figures, educators, and government representatives who are part of the vibrant local community, as well as part of the outside community we will meet during travel and excursions.

The second course will center on the rapidly changing society and culture, as wider belief systems impacted by politics complicate local practices. Students will study the past and present of the region's cultural, social, and religious life through visits to religious sites, interactions with religious figures, and engaging with texts and ethnographies. A key experiential aspect of this course is daily yoga instruction along with lectures on the philosophical aspects of yoga, taught in the very home of ancient yoga itself, set amid the glorious Himalayan mountains.

Students can then draw on this academic framework to embark on "learning service" in structured volunteer activities with organizations in the region. The intersection of the local with on-going changes is mediated by NGOs and private undertakings, an examination of which will provide an in-depth look at changing gender relations, evolution of expectations, environmental impact and impact on cultural practices.

Among the organizations we volunteer with are: Aarohi, a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on integrated rural development with emphasis on healthcare, education, livelihoods and preservation of traditional culture; the Gene Campaign, a research and advocacy organization focused on food security, traditional seed preservation and livelihoods; and the Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (CHIRAG), which is the oldest organization working with communities in the Kumaun region on integrated rural development, including education, forestry, soil and water conservation, agriculture, animal husbandry, preventive and promotive health, and livelihoods and micro-enterprise support. Volunteering and "learning service" extend to our regional excursions to Lakshmi Ashram, a girl's residential school in the Gandhian tradition, village Jageshwar, a religious pilgrimage site and village Munsiyari where the high Himalayan peaks rise skyward!

Students are housed and based at Himalayan Village Sonapani, a sylvan retreat at village Satoli. After the first two weeks, students join area families for home stays where they will be immersed in the daily routines, work, culture, and rituals of the host community. Weekends at Sonapani have the students engaging with eminent visiting scholars, specialists in the Himalayan region, accomplished yoga practitioners, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and dancers.

Students who participate in this program come from diverse backgrounds and a range of majors from business to public health to anthropology. Opportunities abound for students to direct their studies and experiential learning choices to enrich their learning in the direction of their specific interests. Not-for-credit Hindi language study is readily available and provides excellent groundwork for interactions in homestays, with the Sonapani staff, and with other Hindi speakers that students will encounter.


Nainital, India

india mountain Sites

Kausani, Jageshwar, Munsiyari, Delhi


Primary housing is at Himalayan Village – Sonapani, a retreat center at village Satoli, Uttarakhand, India. The site has been housing UW students at the quarter-long Environment & Development in India program for ten years. Keith Goyden, program co-director/coordinator, first selected this site in 2005, and it has been a highlight of each program. It offers exceptional accommodations and well-prepared, hygienic food and a safe water source as well as facilities for classes, films, music, and theatre events. Housing in Delhi is at YWCA Blue Triangle Family Hostel, part of the international network of YM/YWCA's.

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Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

Undergraduate, graduate. Any major/discipline. Physical requirements: Significant walking/trekking on rocky, variable-grade trails in rural mountain environment. Desire to adapt to basic village living environment.


15 Credits


JSIS 417/CHID 474A: Political Economy of India (5 credits)

This seminar-structured class focuses on the social and political life of post-independence India. Students will engage in India's daily media and news events, its enduring political and social issues, and the history that ties this nation together. In particular, we'll think about the challenges of development in the context of India's democracy, and the nature, causes, and consequences of inequality in India around issues of class, caste, region, and gender. Students will have the opportunity to pair scholarly readings in the field with in-depth discussions with various political, social, and cultural actors in the Indian sphere. In addition, they will have opportunities to test their ideas through engagement with the vibrant communities that surround Sonapani. Emphasis will be placed on in-class projects, discussion, and writing endeavors.

Learning Goals: 

Students will learn to contexualize what they are seeing around them in the framework of India's unique history of economic/political development and societal structures through on-going interest in learning, and engaging their own assumptions/presuppositions.

Students will acquire sufficient knowledge of the political, economic and societal environment to understand current issues, and to be able to engage about issues in an informed way and in a way that is respectful to those with whom they engage.

Students will understand the complexity of development issues and development an appreciation for resisting the outsider temptation to propose quick fixes. We will work together to explore reflexively how to personally respond to intractable development issues.

JSIS 485/CHID 474B: Yoga, Religion, Society and Culture in India (5 credits)

The Himalayan mountain range is remembered as the birthplace of many of the great innovations of Indian culture, religious thought and practice, including yoga. This course on culture and religion will give students an understanding of India's religious history, as well as a survey of the basic beliefs and practices of the region's major religions. We will study the structure of society and the interaction with culture. We will explore the interrelations of Indian philosophy and the dynamics of local practices, some of which are unique to this region. Visiting Temples, Masjids, Gurdwaras, and other sacred sites, beginning with our first day in Delhi, will increase understand of these sites' meanings and significance. Excursions during the program will introduce numerous natural and human constructed structures imbued with sacred significance, which are ubiquitous in this region and in India as a whole. The culmination of the course will involve travel to one of several locations that will further expand students' understandings of the intersections of traditions.

This is a seminar-based course, and emphasis will be placed on in-class projects, discussion, and writing endeavors which incorporate ethnographies with student reflections and experiences. Yoga practice increases student understanding of philosophical teaching through an exposure to physical practice and mindfulness, early in the morning as the sun rises over the Himalayas.

Learning Goals: 

See learning goals above for goals related to attitudes and perspectives.

Students will acquire an appreciation for the cultures, religions, and history of India, and especially of the Himalayan region.

Students will also acquire an understanding of the intersection of changes in society, politics and economics with religious belief systems and practices, in constrast to the idea of ancient, unchanging India.

JSIS 497/CHID 399: Experiential Learning: Environment and Social Change in India's Himalaya (5 credits)

Drawing on the foundations and contexts of JSIS 417 and JSIS 485, students will directly engage with our host villages and communities to fully experience the social and environmental change at hand in the Kumaon Himalaya. We explore this change through immersion in daily life: in home stays; preparing for and celebrating festivals and holidays; exposure visits with local NGOs and private sector companies; engaging in shramdaan, traditional service activities supporting most vulnerable in a community; excursions beyond the immediate program site (Lakshmi Ashram, Munsiyari, Jageshwar) to understand the heterogeneity of rural mountain life, weekly educational outreach (after school) activities at a local library, innovations and challenges in natural resource management (water, forests, traditional agriculture). Weekly student-led seminars, written, sound and image based journaling and story telling, and a program culminating independent project form the structure for the intentional, active experiential learning. The independent project can be individually tailored to support each student's disciplinary focus and academic goals.

Learning Goals: 

Students will develop their ability to reflexively and intimately appreciate their immersion in the daily life of our host communities. They will embrace a practice that actively seeks out opportunities to draw together theoretical and lived experience to better understand the processes of economic & environmental change, cultural perspectives, gender dynamics, and their own experience and presuppositions.

india women

Program Directors & Staff

Virginia Van Dyke, Department of JSIS, Program Co-Director

John Keith Goyden, Department of JSIS, Program Co-Director

Hemant Tiwari, Lecturer and On-site Coordinator

Program Expenses

Cost: $7,000

Estimated Program Fee of $7,000, CHID fee ($350), the UW Study Abroad Fee ($350), airfare, UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money*.

*$5/day average needed for incidentals, meals are covered in program fee.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,300 - $1,500* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
CHID Fee $350 October 13, 2017
Non-Refundable Study Abroad Fee $350 October 13, 2017
Program Fee Balance $7,000 October 13, 2017


There are a variety of scholarships available to help fund your study abroad experience. Visit the Global Opportunities page for more information and application deadlines.


To be eligible to study abroad, all program participants must attend an in-person pre-departure orientation facilitated by the Study Abroad office as well as your program-specific orientations, offered by your program director.

You must register for orientation through your online study abroad account in order to attend scheduled orientations. You can visit the Orientation section of our website to view the current orientation schedule.

Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans.

Revision Request

In some instances you may qualify for an increase in your financial aid award (typically in loan funds). Check with the Financial Aid Office about your options. To request a revision in your aid, you will need to submit the following paperwork to the Financial Aid Office:

  1. Revision Request Form
  2. Budget of student expenses for your program: The UW Study Abroad Office will upload this budget to your study abroad account after a signed contract has been submitted to the UW Study Abroad Office. You can request an unofficial copy of this budget by emailing

Visit the Finances section of our website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, one recommendation from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by calling the consular offices of those countries or checking the following website:

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You can check the following website to find contact information for the consulate of the country you will be visiting:

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $350 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable and non-revocable once a contract has been submitted, even if you withdraw from the program. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy are included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the date (business day) a withdrawal form is received by the UW Study Abroad Office. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

1. Provide notice in writing to the Program Director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

2. Submit a signed withdrawal form to the UW Study Abroad Office, 459 Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.