In Sri Lanka, a Village Garden Yields Timeless Lessons in Forest Conservation

sri lanka forest conservation yale 1

The Sri Lanka Program for Forest Conservation (SLPFC), a Yale-based project headed by F&ES Prof. Mark Ashton, this year launched a postgraduate fellowship program that provides practical and professional development experience in tropical forest conservation.

The first three fellows, Blair Rynearson ’15 M.F., Logan Sander ’15 M.F., and Laura Lutttrell have been in Sri Lanka since October.

Working with villagers and the SLPFC, the fellows learn tropical taxonomy, nursery propagation, and have helped develop a traditional tree garden that provides foods, timbers, medicines, and spices. The garden is being designed to serve as a living demonstration for university curricula and practitioner extension. Once complete, the program will provide downloadable information from the NGO’s website on the cultural, ecological, and economic diversity of plants cultivated in traditional gardens in Sri Lanka.

Bright Idea: Student Honored for Bringing ‘Bottled Light’ to Underprivileged Indian Households

bottle lamp roof installation

A few years back, while teaching environmental science to students in a slum neighborhood of Mumbai, Sanjna Malpani ’17 M.E.M. was alarmed to find that many of the students weren’t completing their homework assignments.

The reason they weren’t finishing their work changed the course of her life.

“Their constant excuse was that they didn’t have light at home — even during the daylight hours,” says Malpani, now a second-year masters student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “I was taken aback by this, Mumbai has sun practically the whole year.”

In India, Env. Eng Students Work With Company For Cleaner Water

The humanitarian trips that students in Prof. Jaehong Kim’s course, Environmental Technology in the Developing World, take each spring break have become an established tradition at Yale. This year, the trip had a few new twists.

After a few years of traveling to Nicaragua, the course went for the first time to India. There, they worked with a for-profit company – another first for the class. Kim, the seven students and two teaching assistants, worked with Water Health International (WHI), based in Hyderabad, India. With small-scale community scale water treatment systems, the company sells treated water to consumers, who cart away water in jars for a small fee.

Student Teams Consult with Social Enterprises in India

Every year, the Yale School of Management’s Global Social Entrepreneurship course gives student teams the opportunity to act as consultants for Indian social enterprises. Last fall and winter, six teams addressed a range of projects. The students spent a half semester working with the organizations remotely before traveling to India in January, and then completed their work in early March.

The students shared some key takeaways during presentations hosted by the Social Impact Lab on March 1 and March 8.

Resurgent Russia Joins Great Game in South Asia

With joint military exercises, weapons sales and multilateral conferences, Russia is reclaiming a role as a key powerhouse in Central and South Asia that it held during the Cold War. With a more isolationist administration in Washington, Moscow is also joining with China to fill a power vacuum in South Asia. “In recent years India has grown concerned about Russia’s growing closeness to China and especially the overtures to Pakistan,” notes Harsh V Pant. “Any new power equation in the region will have long-term implications.” The new strategic relationships provoke the ire of India – a strong ally for Russia during the Cold War that has since improved relations with the United States. Indeed, India is troubled by Russia’s recent decisions to appease extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan – initially hosting a conference on Afghanistan’s future with only Pakistan and China while excluding Afghan and US representatives. Additional countries were invited to subsequent meetings, but Russia has established itself as a leading powerbroker for Afghanistan’s future. Russia has a dual goal of constraining US influence while expanding its own, and Pant predicts that “regional theaters like South Asia are likely to face the brunt of this geopolitical competition.” – YaleGlobal

Photo Exhibit/Reception: Coastal Societies of the Bay of Bengal

Department of Anthropology, 10 Sachem Street, First Floor/Basement Lobbies
Exhibit Open April 10 – May 30, Monday-Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm


At a time when the global scientific community is debating the impact of climate change and global warming, this project is of pressing concern in its exploration of how local communities can build resilience through tacit knowledge of their environment.

Debojyoti Das, InterAsia Initiative postdoctoral fellow, is an Indian-born, British-based ethnographer. His work has been in featured in exhibitions held in India (Indian Museum, Kolkata, South Asian University, New Delhi) and the UK (Nehru Center, Indian High Commission, Sussex University).

The exhibition is funded by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Yale InterAsia Initiative with support from the MacMillan Center, the South Asian Studies Council, and the Department of Anthropology.