Her Royal Highness Ashi Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck, Royal Patron for the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER) and the Bhutan Ecological Society (BES) graced the tripartite MoU signing ceremony between UWICER, BES and School for Field Studies (SFS) at Taj Tashi, Thimphu. The MoU, which provides the students from United States of America to undertake field based environmental studies in Bhutan, was signed on December 11, 2017. This MoU revises the understanding which was signed in September 2014 between UWICER and SFS.
The current MoU highlights five areas of partnership between these three institutions:
- Provide U.S. undergraduate students with an opportunity to gain international experience by studying in Bhutan;
- Provide Bhutanese university students the opportunity to team with U.S. students to gain technical skills and research experience through enrollment in the programs;
- Provide Bhutanese scientists the opportunity to team with U.S. counterparts to gain experience in teaching foreign students;
- Provide useful research and insights to Bhutanese communities and key stakeholders; and
- Organize relevant student research symposiums and conferences.
Dasho Rinzin Dorji, Hon’ble Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, in his remarks stated that, “signing of this MoU is a historic one as it brings together government body; Civil Society Organization and international institution”. The Secretary also stated that, a decade long relation between these three institutions guarantees the implementation of activities as reflected in the MoU. Dasho signed the MoU for the UWICER.
Dr. James Cramer, President of the SFS signed the MoU and in his remarks, he informed on how this MoU tries to bring together broader understanding between the people of two nations. Dr. Cramer acknowledged how this program has helped shape the American students and how their students are now serving as the ambassadors of Bhutan. He also said that Bhutan has the unique position to address moral and environmental education to students from elsewhere and acknowledged how this program has transformed American students for good.
Dr. Nawang Norbu, Vice President of the BES signed the MoU on behalf of the Society. Dr. Norbu acknowledged the unique relation UWICER and BES share and how this relation would be instrumental in implementing the activities reflected in the MoU. He also thanked the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and Department of Forests and Park Services for the never ending support rendered to the BES. He stated that, this MoU will help engage more Bhutanese students and researchers for the program, which remains imperative to promote science and education.
The SFS program, housed within the UWICER began in 2010 with just 16 students attending 6 weeks summer programs and until now 222 American students have availed the program. With this MoU, the program shall see two semester [15 weeks each] programs and one summer program [6 weeks] every year. The MoU stands valid for the period of five years from the date of signing.