1. Evaluation of how well the academic objectives of the proposal were met
Background In 2014, I received a MEG to direct student research in two regions of Nepal; Kathmandu and the Khumbu region of the Himalayas. While we were in transit to New York, Nepal experienced a serious earthquake. Consequently, the study was re-‐directed to Tibetan refugee communities in Dharmashala, India. This site was relevant to the original research project because the Buddhist artistic and religious traditions in Nepal are closely linked with Tibet.
The re-‐directed project was very successful and received additional MEG funding and completed the original project in 2016-‐2017. We were able to recover some of the funds sent to Nepal for the first study, however a substantial amount had already been spent for permits, guides, local airfare etc. I visited Nepal in November 2015 to ascertain the feasibility of continuing the project that was interrupted by the earthquake. Although the tourist infrastructure was fine, there was damage in the older, more fragile sections of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, underscoring the urgency of documenting and studying these sites.
The cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley includes seven 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which display a wide range of historic and artistic achievements for which Kathmandu is famous. One of the most significant cultural areas outside the Kathmandu Valley is the Solukhumbu region of the Himalaya, which is home to the Sherpa culture and its rich Buddhist traditions with roots in Eastern Tibet. These two distinct geographical areas are where the field work took place. Field-‐work included visits to schools, collaboration with art faculty and students from Kathmandu University, and study of sacred sites within Nepal.
The second iteration of the project, which included field work in Nepal and India succeeded in accomplishing the original objectives of the project. In addition, we were able to document important artistic and cultural sites which had been damaged by the 2015 earthquake, meet with art students from Kathamandu University, and visit the studios of a number of contemporary artists as well as traditional craftspeople.
2. Evaluation of the mentoring environment
We learned from our redirected study to India in 2015 that immersive type field studies yield rich and often unanticipated results. For example, we were able to meet directly with art historians, artists, craftsman, monks, teachers, and school leaders to ask them about their experiences in making the journey from Tibet to India. In the process, we made many new friends and other scholarly connections that continue to inform our studies in this area. These contacts became part of our mentoring environment for this second phase
Prior to travel, we met regularly with students, building a substantial body of literature designed to inform our study. We also took students on regular hikes to prepare them for the rigor of high altitude travel in the Himalaya. This project was designed to build on an existing research agenda that was shaped by the research interests of the faculty involved and their graduate students. Each student was mentored before and during field work on how to design a research project, including defining a problem, developing research questions, and establishing research methodologies.
Each student gained experience with reviewing literature within libraries, other published and digital research venues, and within a museum designed to support research. Students gained field experience documenting their observations and interviews. Mentored experiences using sound, photography, and video are an essential part of this experience.
Because of submission deadlines, each student was mentored through the process of creating a proposal for professional conferences while the team was on site in India. Three proposals were accepted and presented in 2016, and three were accepted in 2017 as described below.
3. List of students who participated and what academic deliverables they have produced or it is anticipated they will produce.
Four graduate students: Clark Goldsberry, Nicole Vance, Emma Toolsen, and Priscilla Stewart. Five undergraduate students: Aimee Gerlach, Aspen Bruner, Stephanie Cook, Ellie Gillette, and Zoe Smith.
The project followed three distinct lines of inquiry: 1) How Buddhist and Hindu traditions are co-‐mingling within religious practices and how these practices are reflected in art and in schools, 2) How resilience and adversity shapes cultural and artistic traditions, 3) How education, particularly art education can have an ecological focus within the construct of a critical place-‐based pedagogy. Students worked within these lines of inquiry under the direction of graduate student and faculty mentors.
The Book: The Hem of Enlightenment: Along with faculty mentors and contributions from each of the other students, we a companion book (218 pages), about our experiences and Nepal, which has been printed, with copies given to Graduate Studies. The book, which is a compilation of writing, artwork, and photography has been submitted for peer review to Communication Arts.
The Book: 108 Steps: We designed a second, soft bound book, that included photographs, visual essays, and excerpts from both Indian and Nepal field studies.
The Exhibition: an exhibition of creative work from this project was created in the Harris Fine Arts Center in the fall of 2016, and a proposal for an exhibition in Salt Lake City has been proposed to the Utah Arts Council.
Presentations: Five student or faculty/student proposals to make presentations have were made to the Utah Art Education Association annual meeting and the National Art 3 Education Association annual meeting in 2017. Six of the ten proposals were accepted and presented at the UAEA conference in St. George and at the NAEA conference in Chicago.
Clark Goldsberry was part of the first iteration of this project. He was instrumental in designing and contributing to three exhibitions organized in the fall of 2015. He presented his own research on these topics at the National Art Education Association annual conference in Chicago in March 2016. His current thesis research investigates how themes of loss and resilience could be addressed through holistic art projects with high school students. He is preparing this research for publication in the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education.
Priscilla Stewart was also part of the project in northern India. Since that time, she has developed a graduate research proposal that focuses on place-‐based education and outdoor or experiential education. She received a grant to develop a pilot wilderness school, which will be part of her master’s thesis, during the summer of 2017. She presented her findings at the Utah Art Education Association annual meeting in 2017 with her faculty mentor and at the National Art Education Association annual meeting in 2017. Her project is entitled: Designing a Wild Mountain Art School.
Emma Toolson met with medical personnel in the region as part of her study of nutrition. Of particular interest was the how high altitude influenced the health and nutrition of individuals in the village communities. Her work was incorporated into her master’s thesis.
Nicole Vance, a graduate student in Art History whose research focuses on Indian art and architecture within the period of British colonization. Her study in Kathmandu focused on how contemporary artists integrated the traditional arts and culture into their work and will be presented at the Utah Art Education Association meetings in 2017.
Stephanie Cook, a Media Arts student created several short documentary films about the expedition that she is editing for peer review. Her films ask: What are the major art forms, and religious iconography of this region? What role does the religious, artistic iconography play in the spiritual practices of the people?
Aspen Bruner and Aimee Gerlach, Art Education majors, created proposals to present their research and experiences on multicultural education to the Utah Art Education Association and the National Art Education Association Annual meeting. Their work focuses on the content of arts education within the schools of Kathmandu and the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Upper Dharamsala
Zoe Smith was particularly interested in the politics surrounding the Tibetans living in northern India. She contributed to the book project and is preparing her research findings for editing. In 1951, after a struggle for independence and autonomy that has lasted nearly as long as their own origin, the nation of Tibet was invaded by Chinese troops and forced to bow under the authority of the China.
Ellie Gillette studied the connection of plants to artistic iconography and the healing properties of plants of Nepal. Her drawings and commentary were designed and published, using letter press, into a book that was part of the group exhibition.
4. Description of the results/findings of the project
Clark Goldsberry examined the holistic (spiritual) dimensions of education. His current thesis research investigates how themes of loss and resilience could be addressed through holistic art projects with high school students. His results focused on the questions: How might curriculum and instruction in art reflect our experiences with the beliefs, artistry, and schools of Nepal, particularly in the areas of holistic and multi-‐ cultural pedagogical approaches? He also gathered data on how the Sherpa community fuses education and spirituality to create a more holistic educational experience.
Nicole Vance at the time of the study was a graduate student in Art History whose research focuses on Indian art and architecture within the period of British colonization. She gathered information on the history of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs in northern India and contributed to the exhibition and book. Her work during this second study focused on how traditional artistic conventions reflected in contemporary art practices in Nepal, based on interviews with artists living in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur.
Priscilla Stewart studied educational programs that allow students to have immersive types of experiences in culture and distinct ecological environments. These topics are important parts of her master’s thesis. Her project considers the topic of an ecological based art education using the framework of critical place-‐based education. She gathered data on the question of how experiential or place-‐based pedagogy change the content and quality of the learning experience.
1) Little is known or published about the relationship between the spiritual traditions of Nepal and art education within the country. This study contributed to knowledge in this area primarily through school visits and interviews with teachers and school leaders.
2) The spiritual dimensions of education (often called holistic education) are an important, but often neglected part of school curricula. One result of this study was the compilation of extensive literature in this area along with observations of Tibetan schools in Nepal and India and is being applied within school sites in Utah.
3) Because of the scattering of Tibetan art and culture, this study provided information about Tibetan religious and artistic traditions within Nepal and India as well as a unique window into the resilience of Tibetan culture, primarily through interviewing Tibetan refugees and visiting Tibetan artisans.
4) Navigating the spiritual and religious dimensions of education and art making can be difficult, given the secular nature of education and the sensitivity of topics within these traditions. Two of the graduate students are incorporating these ideas into their curriculum, teaching, and thesis research.
5) A critical topic for educators is how to effectively teach within ethnically or culturally diverse classrooms and how to teach about other cultures. This project provided practical experience and understanding of issues of multicultural education through direct experience.
6) In the process of meeting with Nepalese scholars, religious leaders, artists, and other people within the country, students gained deeper appreciation for these people and their culture and in the process, become emissaries for the university. This project was designed to establish the groundwork for future research and study abroad opportunities in this region.
5. Description of how the budget was spent
Each student contributed about $3,400 toward travel and other expenses. MEG funds were used to support travel, the field work in Nepal and India, and creative projects as described below.
$110 International travel expenses
$8,000 faculty and student travel for the 3 weeks of travel in the Khumbu region of the Himalaya including lodging, and fees for guides and porters. $700 travel and lodging within the Kathmandu Valley, including travel to UNESCO Heritage sites in Patan and Bhaktapur
$1400 travel to Delhi,
$900 bus travel to Dharamsala 859 travel and lodging expenses in Dharamsala and Mcleod Ganj.
Grant funds supported the publication of the large book designed by faculty and students, printing of photographs, framing and supplies for the exhibition. $1124 book printing (hard cover book)
$519 Book printing (soft cover book)
$1350 camera used for documentation in the field
$238 exhibition expenses, including printing of photographs and framing