Hiram College


The Faculty

Kerry Skora, Professor and Chair, Religious Studies and Director, Hiram-Bhutan Cultural Exchange Program

Sarah Mabey, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Natural History Minor Coordinator

The Courses

Pilgrimage to Bhutan: Tradition and Nature, Buddhist Wisdom and Ecological Identity (Fall 2018 12-week term, 1 credit hour)

Pilgrimage to Bhutan: Tradition and Nature, Buddhist Wisdom and Ecological Identity (INTD, Fall 2018 3-week term, 3 credit hours)

Cultural Immersion

Enjoy a pilgrimage through multiple “boundaries” of space, time and consciousness in the last Buddhist kingdom and the first Buddhist democracy in the Himalayas. Understand the deep relationships between religion and ecology, as you explore what it means to travel from “West” to “East” and back again.

Students will confront both modern and traditional spaces as they travel through Thimphu, the modernizing capital of Bhutan; Bumthang, the traditional cultural center of Bhutan; and other areas of religious and ecological significance. A balanced approach will be taken, guided by the disciplines of religious studies, ecology and environmental studies. As we explore temples, shrines, monasteries, landscapes and ecosystems and interact with clerics, lay people and environmental and economic scholars and activists, we will examine the material, symbolic and spiritual dimensions of place and space.

The Itinerary

Discover where Buddhist wisdom meets ecological identity.


Visit Bhutan’s capital for a conversation with members of the Happy Green Co-operative, on Gross National Happiness, sustainable development, and how they are helping the farmers of Bhutan. Wander through the only capital with no traffic lights, hike through the valleys, and make your first pilgrimage stop in a holy Buddhist temple. Stops also include the Memorial Chorten and the Tashichho Dzong.


Drive from Thimphu to Punakha, visiting Dochula pass for a panoramic view of the Himalayan mountains. Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens and bird watch in the park. Visit Farmer Sangay, the founder of the Happy Green Co-op, and engage in farm activities. Visit Punakha Dzong and learn about Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Kings of Bhutan.


Visit and camp in Bumthang, the religious heartland and environmental treasure of Bhutan. Walk and talk with the program director of the Gross National Happiness Center, meditate at the Visionary Sage Longchenpa’s Tharpaling Monastery, and hike through the Tharpaling valley, stopping at environmental and spiritual hotspots.


Meet monks and the Khanpo (head teacher) at the Gangtey Monastery and the Khenpo. Hike on the Phobjikha Nature Trail, watch the black-necked cranes in the valley, and visit the Nature Center.


Final day pilgrimage trek to the famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, one of Guru Rinpoche’s sacred sites. Perched on a rocky ledge, the site is about 3,000 feet above the Paro valley and overlooks the Paro river.

Trip Prerequisites/Requirements

Students will be required to take a 1-credit-hour course titled “Pilgrimage to Bhutan: Tradition and Nature, Buddhist Wisdom and Ecological Identity” during the Fall-12, taught by Professors Kerry Martin Skora (Religious Studies) and Sarah Mabey (Environmental Studies).

Students are responsible for personal possessions and expenses and for meeting academic expectations.

Program Details

  • Estimated cost:  $4,900 (includes round-trip airfare, transportation within country, accommodations, meals, and admission fees)
  • Application Deadline:  October 7, 2017; A $75 non-refundable fee is due upon receipt of application.  This fee is used to pay for processing costs, an International Student Identity Card, passport holder, and luggage tags.
Brittany Jackson Headshot

Brittany Jackson, M.A.

Assistant Director of Strategic Academic Initiatives
Study Away Coordinator


Brittany Jackson is the main point of contact for all things related to study abroad at Hiram College.

Address and Fax Number:

Hiram College
Hinsdale 136 and 137
PO Box 67
Hiram, OH  44234