2020 Turin

Project Title Nepali and Tibetan Language in a Community Context (OER)
Principal Investigator Mark Turin
  • Sonam Chusang, Adjunct Professor, Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts
  • Binod Shrestha, Instructor, Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts
  • Sara Shneiderman, Associate Professor, Anthropology, Faculty of Arts
  • Tsering Shakya, Associate Professor, Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts
  • Ratna Shrestha, Sessional Lecturer (Continuing), Vancouver School of Economics, Faculty of Arts
Faculty Arts
Funding Year 2019/20
Project Summary

The UBC Himalaya Program offers an annual summer intensive community-engaged language learning program for Nepali and Tibetan. This is the only credit-bearing program for learning Nepali anywhere in Canada, and one of only two in colloquial Tibetan. Since its launch in summer in 2016, the program has built on community and student feedback to inform an expansion from one-week, one-credit courses to our current a two-week, three-credit courses, featuring a teaching method that seamlessly integrates classroom based and community integrated learning. The growth of the courses is indicative of how the program has excelled in its ability to engage students in the language learning process through a blend of classroom experiences, visits to Himalayan community sites and the opportunity to participate in a variety of cultural experiences. The courses have received positive feedback from students, community members, and educational administrators, suggesting the efficacy of the model, and encouraging the continued growth and development of the courses.

Starting this summer (2020), the courses are offered formally through the Department of Asian Studies and carry their own course codes (TIBT 390 and NEPL 390, respectively) after approval from UBC Senate and various curriculum committees.

Our current goal is to develop a suite of Open Educational Resources based on the newest iterations of the summer courses which, for the first time, are being adapted for entirely online delivery. Since announcing the online courses, student enrollment has surged and the Himalaya Program has received numerous inquiries from students across the world who are interested in our unique model of learning.

Given staffing and resource constraints, we are unable to accommodate all of these international inquiries, so we are all the more excited to leverage the work that has gone into this transition to create OERs to benefit students around the world. Learning from the models of courses already featured on Open UBC, our courses will provide a unique opportunity to share our years of teaching expertise with a global audience, providing foundational linguistic and culture knowledge about the Himalayan region.

Our instructors Mr. Binod Shrestha and Mr. Sonam Chusang, both of whom have more than a decade of language teaching experience, are fully on board with the creation of OERs and excited by the opportunities that this will bring. In addition, we have received consent from our community partners so that we can document their community-led learning activities and share this content with a global audience. Anticipated content includes instructions on how to sing Nepali and Tibetan songs, as well as virtual tours and explanations of local Buddhist monasteries.

In sum, these OERs will provide a timely and unique, community-engaged learning resource for anyone seeking to learn these important and under-resourced languages.

Grant type Rapid Innovation
Funded Amount $1,000