Dr. Dawn Murray, Chair of the Bachelor of Arts program at Antioch University Santa Barbara, has been invited to teach at the Royal Thimphu College in the Kingdom of Bhutan for a year as a visiting professor. Dawn, a marine biologist who started the Environmental Studies concentration in AUSB’s BA program, will be the only American female scientist teaching at the school.
Dawn is taking a leave from AUSB at the end of July when she will move to Bhutan and join RTC’s Environmental Studies Department teaching courses on ecology, biodiversity, management, and conservation. Her two sons, aged 13 and 11, will leave their Santa Barbara schools and immerse themselves in a new culture and school in Bhutan. Dawn will return to the BA program at AUSB in August 2017.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked Asian country located between India and China in the midst of the Himalayan Mountains. The country has a self-imposed mandate to keep at least 60% of its land forested and is also known for its Gross National Happiness index, which revealed that 91% of its residents considered themselves happy. Earlier this year, Bhutan became the world’s first carbon-negative country, absorbing more carbon in its heavily forested lands than it produces.
This won’t be Dawn’s first visit to Bhutan. She visited in December 2015 while leading an eco-cultural trip with The Tribal Trust Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving indigenous cultures at which Dawn serves on the board as Vice President. During her year in Bhutan, she plans to help preserve the culture and ways of the indigenous Monpas people living in the remote mountains.
“I am excited to return and offer my expertise for a year contributing to their environmental studies curriculum, working with future leaders of ecological stewardship,” Dawn said. “My passion for ecological literacy, cultural conservation, and climate change education and awareness is my asset and my communication expertise enhances coalition building.”
While in Bhutan, Dawn said she will research opportunities and benefits that develop from sustainable management of natural resources and innovative eco-friendly practices and also impart AUSB’s emphasis on learner-centered education and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice.
“My intention is to educate, inspire, and motivate people to become actively involved in eco-cultural preservation issues,” Dawn said. “I will be witnessing and participating in a way of life that has been sustained for thousands of years, living as part of the natural order, not above or separate from it. My learning will help me more effectively teach students at Antioch when I return and encourage ecological activism, focusing on environmental issues, indigenous people, their art and culture, and organic farming methods.”
In December of 2019, Dr. Muray will be leading a credit-bearing trip to Bhutan. The trip will include a study of Himalayan ecology and Gross National Happiness, interaction with the indigenous people, a celebration of the culture on Monpa Day, camping in the Black Forest, hiking to the breathtaking Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and a visit to ancient Buddhist temples and dzongs. Download more information about the trip here.