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  • Locations: Kathmandu, Nepal; Pokhara, Nepal
  • Program Terms: Autumn Quarter
  • Budget Sheets: Autumn Quarter
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Primary Language(s) of Instruction: English Affiliated Department: Landscape Architecture
UW Study Abroad Program Manager: Ruby Machado Shields UW Program Director: Ben Spencer, Sabin Niglekhu
Estimated Program Fee: 7500 UW Program Staff Email:,
Program Information:

Location Kathmandu, Nepal
Academic Term Autumn Quarter
09/24/2019 - 12/07/2019
Estimated Program Fee $7,950
Credits 12-15 quarter credits / 8-10 semester credits
Prerequisites There are no specific prerequisites. The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students from any discipline.
Program Directors Benjamin Spencer |
Sabin Ninglekhu |
Program Manager Ruby Machado Shields|
Priority Application Deadline February 15th, 2019
Information Sessions Thursday, January 31st @ noon | Gould Hall 102
Wednesday, February 13th @ noon | Gould 102  
General Explore design, development and global health in Nepal through hands-on community engagement, project implementation, impact assessment and independent study.

Program Description

InterAction Nepal is an immersive, interdisciplinary study abroad program offered with the support of the UW Department of Landscape Architecture, Jackson School of International Studies Nepal Studies Initiative and Department of Global Health. The program will challenge you to delve into contemporary issues surrounding urban development in the Kathmandu Valley and respond to them at a local scale through community-based participatory design, project implementation and assessment. You will work with local students and residents of an underserved community to design and construct a small-scale intervention in community infrastructure and evaluate project impacts on human and environmental health. You will also have the opportunity to pursue your own research interests through independent study. Program activities include lectures and discussions, organizational site visits, field trips within and outside the Kathmandu Valley, community meetings/workshops and hands-on design and construction. InterAction Nepal's partners include community members, municipal representatives, non-profit organizations (eg. Traction and Nepal Communiterre) and academic institutions (eg. Kathmandu University, School of Arts, Department of Community Development and School of Medical Sciences).




Kathmandu, Nepal


The program is based primarily in the Kathmandu Valley. You will stay in housing located in Sanepa, a residential neighborhood with restaurants, shops and other amenities, convenient for all Kathmandu Valley activities. You will have a kitchen to prepare food and will be responsible for your own meals. Extended field trips outside of the Kathmandu Valley include travel to the Annapurna Conservation Area and Chitwan National Park. During field trips you will stay in local guest houses and dine at local restaurants. Other program facilities include a classroom for discussions, lectures, and other activities as well as a makerspace with digital fabrication equipment and a wide assortment of hand and power tools. We provide airport pickup/dropoff, bicycles for local mobility and vans for longer field trips both within and outside of the Kathmandu Valley.



Prerequisites and Language Requirements

There are no specific prerequisities. Acceptance into the program will be based primarily on your reponses to the questionnaire, recommendations and an in-person or skype interview. During field trips, we will be hiking up/down steep hills to reach natural areas and community projects and staying in rustic conditions where beds and toilet facilities are basic. Throughout the program there may be limited access to electricity, internet and cellular services and our schedule and activities may change in response to circumstances. You should be prepared to accommodate these conditions.


12-15 quarter credits / 8-10 semester credits UW Quarter Credits


LARCH 495, JSIS B 335, GH 399/600: InterAction Nepal Design Studio (6.0 quarter credits / 4.0 semester credits credits) VLPA, I&S

The InterAction Nepal Design Studio will cultivate your ability to plan for, design, implement and assess community-driven projects/programs in marginalized neighborhoods. Drawing upon participatory planning / design theory and methods, the studio will challenge you to formulate and carry out participatory workshops, synthesize community feedback and posit innovative built project and programmatic solutions that leverage community assets and respond to community identified challenges. Project implementation builds upon the outcomes of the participatory design process. You will work in close collaboration with local students, community members and craftspeople to implement a built project and enact associated programming. You will also contribute to the assessment of long-term impacts of projects and programs undertaken during previous InterAction Nepal programs.

Learning goals include:
Pursue design as a creative, synthetic approach to problem solving in complex developing contexts. Strengthen knowledge of, and competency in, participatory design, project implementation and assessment. Strengthen ability to work both independently and collaboratively, to learn from both success and failure and to adapt to an unfamiliar context and evolving circumstances.

LARC 498, JSIS 485, GH 399/600: Culture | Ecology | Health (3.0 quarter credits / 2.0 semester credits credits) I&S

Culture | Ecology | Health focuses on the history, culture, ecology and contemporary development of Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley, and their relationship to the built environment, human health, policy and practice in the city. You will explore the interdependence of political, socio-economic and ecological change, the drivers and impacts of urbanization including climate change, conflict and poverty, and the roles that government, NGOs and other actors play in shaping the complex human and built landscapes of the city. You will attend lectures by Nepali faculty, hold discussions with Nepali students and visit local sites relevant to course content.

Learning goals include:
Broaden knowledge of contemporary development in the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal and their relationships to human and ecological well-being. Develop capacity to communicate and collaborate with peers in a different cultural context. Enhance capacity for critical thinking and debate.

LARC 495, JSIS 392, GH 399/600: Spoken Nepali (3.0 quarter credits / 2.0 semester credits credits) VLPA

Spoken Nepali will introduce you to practical Nepali for use in everyday conversation. Instruction takes place during language labs and involves a variety of activities and exercises ranging from vocabulary, grammar/syntax, pronunciation and conversation. Language instruction will support your engagement and cultural exchange with Nepali counterparts and community members.

Learning goals include:
Practical knowledge of spoken Nepali for everyday navigation within the city, for use in community-based collaboration, for interactions with local students and partners and as the basis for future study and/or engagement in Nepal.

LARC 499/600, JSIS 485, GH 499/600: Independent Study (optional) (3.0 quarter credits / 2.0 semester credits credits) VLPA, I&S, NW

During Independent Study, you will define a topic area and research project to pursue in depth. You can define and pursue topics/projects that relate to the program's community-based work, correspond your own interests or help you fulfill the requirements of your course of study in the US (with approval). Course instructors will help you manage independent study projects and provide feedback on project evoluation and deliverables on a regular basis.

Learning goals include:
Enhance ability to define a research agenda and pursue independent inquiry on topics related to developing contexts. Build skills in goal and milestone management. Build skills in synthesis, execution and presentation.



Benjamin Spencer
Affiliate Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture

Benjamin R. Spencer is an Affiliate Associate Professor in the University of Washington, Department of Landscape Architecture and the co-founder of the Informal Urban Communities Initiative (a.k.a. Traction). Ben’s work is collaborative and interdisciplinary. It integrates human centered design, research and teaching and explores the relationship between the built environment, technology, participatory engagement and human wellbeing in developing communities. Ben has extensive experience working and teaching abroad in East Timor, Peru and Nepal. His recent publications include book chapters, “Whole-Systems Public Interest Design Education” and “Engaging the Field Experience: Integrated, Interdisciplinary, On-Site, Enduring” in Public Interest Design Education Guidebook (Routledge 2018). His recent projects include ‘Kolcha Pakha Park’ and ‘Park Pods’ in Kathmandu.

Sabin Ninglekhu
Lecturer, PhD in Human Geography with an appointment in the UW Department of Landscape Architecture

Sabin Ninglekhu has a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Toronto, Canada. His doctoral dissertation investigated the interface at which state-sponsored projects of urban development, such as river restoration and road expansion, encountered the livelihood of the urban poor and examined its implications for envisioning urban planning committed to the projects of social justice and the right to the city. His MA, also from the University of Toronto, examined the rise of citizen-led local governance and planning processes in Kathmandu in the aftermath of socio- economic liberalization in the 1990s in Nepal. Ninglekhu is currently conducting a post- doctoral research on post-earthquake rebuilding in Kathmandu, and is a visiting scientist at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, as part of the research project.

Alisha Adhikari
Design/On Site Coordinator

Alisha Adhikari is an architect at Sustainable Mountain Architecture, a firm whose work focuses on sustainable design and improving building methods in the mountains of Nepal. Alisha is passionate about architecture that tells stories about the context and the culture it’s situated in.



Program Expenses

Estimated Program Fee: $7,950

Included in the program fee:

  • $450 Study Abroad Fee
  • Instruction
  • Housing
  • Program activities and program travel
Not included in the program fee:
  • Airfare (average price subject to when and where your buy your ticket - $1100-$1300 from Seattle, $900-$1100 from Vancouver, if purchased in advance)
  • Food (about $10)
  • UW Student Abroad Insurance ($1.64/day)
  • Other health expenses/immunizations
  • Personal spending money

Payment Due Date: October 11, 2019

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.

Financial Aid

  • A large percentage of UW students utilize financial aid to study abroad. Most types of financial aid can be applied to study abroad fees.
  • You can submit a revision request to increase the amount of aid for the quarter you are studying abroad. These additional funds are usually awarded in the form of loans. To apply, fill out a revision request form, attach the budget sheet (available via the link at the top of this brochure) and submit these documents to the Office of Student Financial Aid.  For more information about this process, consult the Financial Aid section of our website.
  • Consult the Financial Aid section of our website for more information on applying for financial aid, special considerations for summer and early fall programs, and budgeting and fundraising tips.


  • There are many scholarships designed to fund students studying abroad. The UW Study Abroad administers a study abroad scholarship program and there are national awards available as well.
  • Scholarships vary widely in their parameters. Some are need-based, some are location-based, and some are merit-based.
  • To be considered for a UW Study Abroad Scholarship fill out a short questionnaire on your UW Study Abroad program application.  You must apply by the priority application deadline for the program in order to be considered for a scholarship.  Click the Overview tab to view application deadlines.
  • Consult our Scholarships page to learn about UW-based and national scholarships. The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards can help you learn about additional opportunities.

Budgeting Tools

We understand that figuring out your finances for study abroad can be complicated and we are here to help. Below are some ways to find additional support.

  • Click on the Budget Sheets link at the top of this brochure to view the estimated budget of all expenses for this program.
  • Contact the Global Opportunities Adviser at to learn more about how to pay for study abroad.
  • Attend a Financial Planning Workshop offered by UW Study Abroad – more information is on the Events page of our website.
  • Visit the Finances section of our website.



Application Process

The study abroad 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 online application process, you 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.


To be eligible to study abroad, you must complete the mandatory pre-departure online orientation provided by UW Study Abroad. You must also attend program-specific orientations offered by the program director.

You will be able to access the online orientation through your study abroad application once you have been accepted to a program. Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.


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. This is an especially important consideration if you are planning to do more than one study abroad program. You can research visa requirements 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 $450 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable once you have submitted a contract. 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 will be 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 business day a withdrawal application is received by UW Study Abroad. 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.
  2. Submit a withdrawal application to UW Study Abroad.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.

Additional Info

We are excited to review your applications and, hopefully, to see you in Nepal! If you have any questions about the InterAction Nepal program, please don't hesitate to contact us at We look forward to hearing from you. - Ben and Sabin