Niswarth in Bhutan

Andover students will have the opportunity to explore the singular culture of Bhutan, the world’s last Himalayan kingdom, through the eyes of Bhutanese peers. Through collaboration on a Design for Change project initiated by Bhutanese youth, Andover students will learn how these young students are addressing the issues that are important in the local community. Throughout the journey, Andover students will learn how Bhutan’s renowned Gross National Happiness project has conserved this country’s extraordinary heritage and biodiversity.

The interdisciplinary nature of this program will allow students to consider questions related to environmentalism, ethics, religious studies, and economics. What can be learned from Bhutan’s approach to development, and its emphasis on happiness as a metric for understanding the well-being of a country? What role does globalization play in Bhutan’s rather cautious relationship to widespread economic development? In what ways might Buddhist philosophy inform government policy towards the environment or the economy?

To respond to these questions thoughtfully, Andover students will listen to and learn from their Bhutanese counterparts on each step of the journey, working with a Putney guide and faculty from Phillips Academy. Niswarth’s approach to connected learning also means that students will meet almost weekly in the spring term to learn about Buddhism, basic economic theory, the history of Bhutan—and the ways in which these ideas intersect and interact in Bhutan. This background knowledge will enable students to ask more informed questions from the moment they arrive on the ground.

Niswarth students will partner with students from the ELC (Educating for Lifelong Citizenship) High School in Thimpu. ELC has been an international leader incorporating the DFC (Design for Change) into their curriculum, and they have embraced the Niswarthian approach of developing DFC projects as a core component of our collaboration. The ELC have partnered with our Niswarth (India) partner, Riverside School, in Ahmedabad, and based on many Skype exchanges as well as scouting visit by Raj Mundra in July, 2018, we feel confident about the programming collaboration possibilities between students and in the local community.


Date: On hiatus 2020

Program Directors: Andy Housiaux and Emma Staffaroni

Themes: Environmentalism, Ethics, Religious Studies, Economics

Financial Aid: We are committed to offering need-based financial aid for any Andover student who is selected.