The Royal Thimphu College receives prestigious grant
The Royal Thimphu College ( RTC) has been awarded the Institutional Development Grant from the prestigious Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research based in the United States. The Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of anthropology throughout the world.The grant is given to one University annually across the globe for a 5-year duration starting January 2016. RTC is the 9th recipient of the prestigious grant, which will provide 125,000 USD total for the College to support the development of capacity in the field of anthropology in Bhutan. Dr. Ritu Verma, Associate Professor at RTC, submitted the grant application and will coordinate the grant activities along with other associates in Social Sciences at RTC. The grant was awarded in collaboration with the esteemed Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, which will also participate in the grant activities in support of four key areas of work, centering on knowledge, networking, capacity strengthening, and development of academic programmes related to anthropology. The future programmes are expected to attract Bhutanese as well as international scholars who will strengthen their eth- nographic and research capacity in terms of the preservation, promotion and documentation of culture in Bhutan. The grant supports the longterm strategic vision of RTC of becoming a national and international institute of academic and research excellence in a variety of fields.
According to the press release from foundation there exists a critical gap in anthropological knowledge of Bhutan and the practice of anthropology in Bhutan. At present, no doctoral program exists in the country. Hence, research based on in-depth long-term ethnographic fieldwork, the hallmark of a Ph.D. in anthropology, is also lacking. This has implications for the understanding of changing dynamics of cultural, social, identity, political-economic, and environmental aspects of a nation that has only recently opened itself to the outside world. Given that there are no professional avenues for practicing anthropology in the country, such an initiative is urgent. Royal Thimphu College is the only private academic institution of its kind in Bhutan, and thus it holds a special place in terms of its ability to innovate in terms of research. In this spirit, it hopes to develop for the first time in the history of the country, a doctoral program with a longterm vision of becoming an international institute of academic and research excellence in the anthropology of Bhutan, international development, socially engaged Buddhism and Gross National Happiness (GNH). It will do so through several key activities over a fiveyear period, centred on knowledge, networking, capacity strengthening, approval/accreditation and piloting, and in formal collaboration with renowned anthropologists specializing in the region from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California Los Angeles , and through informal collaborations with professional anthropologists in the United States, Bhutan and beyond.