New Colombo Plan opportunities for UWA and La Trobe students to visit Mongolia and India

Khovsgol Lake, Mongolia

The UWA political science and international relations discipline has received 115,500 dollars in funding through the New Colombo Plan for its students to visit India and Mongolia. These grants will take 35 Australian students to Asia for unique study tour experiences. Both projects blend environmental and social sciences, to understand the international political implications of changing climates and ecologies. The two projects will also feed into the recently re-designed UWA unit POLS3324: Global Environmental Politics.

Construction on the Teesta River, Sikkim, India. Photo: Ruth Gamble.

The trip to India was designed by Alexander E Davis and Mona Chettri of UWA, working with Ruth Gamble of La Trobe University. This tour will look at how Himalayan communities are seeking deal with environmental crises, such as the recent glacial lake outburst flood in Uttarakhand. Students will visit Davis, Chettri and Gamble’s research partners in Sikkim and West Bengal, to understand how different actors are trying to adapt to changing conditions on the ground.

The trip to Mongolia was similarly designed by Davis and Gamble, in consultation with Australian friends of an Indigenous peoples movement seeking to protect Khovsgol Lake from infrastructure development and coal mining interests. This social movement is seeking to protect the lake by applying for UNESCO world heritage status, on the basis of its cultural and environmental importance. As the region’s temperature can drop to -40, the visit will most definitely take place in the Northern Hemisphere summer. Though not strictly Himalayan, the enviornmental risks of infrastructure development and mining on minority lands is similar to the issues faced by the Himalayan region.

There will be twenty funded places open to UWA and La Trobe students to India, and fifteen to Mongolia. Both tours will be split between students of environmental and political sciences. They will blend the study of politics and ecology, enabling Australian students to come home with a deeper understanding of global environmental challenges, and need to collaborate across disciplinary backgrounds. 

The two tours will take place once Australia re-opens its borders.