Nepal Studies Program
Leren Gao, a Master’s of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, spent her summer learning Sanskrit in Kathmandu, Nepal. With her goal of eventually pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Sanskrit is a valuable language to learn for Leren. She shared her experience.
Francis X. Clooney, a born and bred New Yorker, was following a fairly traditional path toward Jesuit priesthood when he took an unexpected detour that would change his religious and world view forever. Clooney, now Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard, is a leading scholar in the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hindu India and the developing field of comparative theology. He has written numerous books, including Hindu God, Christian God (2001) and the more recent Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics (2019). How he found himself at the forefront of Hindu-Christian studies began in 1973 with a trip to Kathmandu, where different religious traditions were not just in books but all around him.
Shrinkhala Khatiwada, a Master of Urban Planning candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, earned an LMSAI student grant to study urban planning in Nepal. She spent a three-week internship at Daayitwa Nepal Public Policy Fellowship, a program that fosters collaboration on economic policy research between young professionals and the Nepalese government. During her internship, Shrinkhala worked with the Nepal National Planning Commission to explore the potential for mandating a dedicated Urban Green Infrastructure department in every major metropolitan city in Nepal.
The Mittal Institute recently concluded the 2020–2021 Visiting Artist Fellowship, which annually brings four mid-career visual artists to Cambridge to engage with Harvard faculty and students, participate in art exhibitions, and perform research using Harvard’s intellectual resources to further their art practice. Due to COVID-related programming changes this year, the fellowship was reimagined, bringing 13 of the top applicants from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal to the virtual world for a series of four online seminars curated to support the artists’ long-term practice. In these courses, the artists participated in thought-provoking discussions centering on art history, creative writing, urban design, and more, with both their peers and the expert facilitating the class. For the final installment of the VAF Lecture Series, the Mittal Institute welcomed Asim Waqif, a Delhi-based artist whose international work revolves around architecture, ecology and design.
The profound and inspirational work of our artists has not stopped despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In this magazine, we spoke with each of our fellows to discuss the inspiration behind their career as an artist, what they hope to learn during their time as a Visiting Artist Fellow, and their thoughts on the artwork they have each presented in this magazine. In the magazine’s pages, you will read the artists’ thoughts on these subjects in their own words, and we hope that it will inspire you to enter their world and see their work through their eyes.
View a virtual gallery of the artwork from our 13 2020-2021 Visiting Artist Fellows from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.
Education has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as a record number of children are not attending schools due to lockdowns and social-distancing protocols in effect across the world. The crisis has also laid bare the many inequities and inadequacies in the existing education systems around the world, and especially in South Asia. We spoke with Nishant Pandey, the CEO of American India Foundation (AIF), and Rumee Singh, the Founder of Katha4Nepal — two distinguished organizations that have accomplished remarkable work in the field of education delivery during the pandemic.