Sustainable Resource Development in the Himalaya – Educating a New Generation

Since 2008, EGI Has Joined in International Collaboration for Students’ Education Programs Abroad

Understanding the potential for energy development along with the protection of natural and cultural environments globally requires the collaboration and commitment of both experts and the communities in which these resources are located. The role of geoscience in ensuring their sustainable and productive development was the focus of the Sustainable Resource Development in the Himalaya Conference held in Leh, Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in June 2014. Along with the Geological Society of London and the Institute of Energy Research and Training (IERT), University of Jammu, EGI scientist and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah, Joseph Moore participated in a special student program aimed at educating the region’s youngest community members. The path to sustainable and economic development of resources is inextricably intertwined with protection of the natural and cultural heritage. Introducing the region’s youth to geoscience and the principles behind sustainable energy development is critical to their active and robust participation in the future of their communities.

The Conference included a comprehensive Students’ Education Program, which visited schools in Leh, Nyoma, and Puga (Ladakh).  Central to the Program was an event at the Nomadic Residential School of Puga where children of nomadic herding families attend school during the summer months.  The stunning natural environments surrounding these communities make them some of the most interesting and memorable landscapes in the world.  Likewise, geothermal resources in India are currently undeveloped, but hold significant potential.  Noting that “the hottest and best known of the geothermal systems are in Jammu and Kashmir, which form part of the northwest Himalayan ‘geothermal province’ that extends through Nepal and Tibet,” EGI’s Joe Moore illustrates why this region holds both exceptional potential and exceptional fragility. Vulnerable to extreme cold, isolation, and other natural and political challenges, these areas will require an educated and engaged populace to further sustainable development and reduce the inherent vulnerability of the people inhabiting these harsh regions. At over 15,000 feet (>4,500 meters) above sea level and sparsely populated, regional development means not just economic development and energy security, but preservation of the unique natural and cultural environments here.  Some residents—wary of rapid development and already persistent land-use challenges—are looking to the example of neighboring Bhutan for examples of future development, noting that while the GDP of Bhutan is limited, the “gross happiness product” outpaces the rest of the world.  Aiming to balance these seemingly divergent views of successful development, the Education Program encourages and equips students to be ambassadors for their communities as the future of development and sustainability in the Himalaya.

The Students’ Education Program is a unique collaboration between industry and academia, and between India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. It provides essential basic geoscience education for secondary school students and addresses critical global issues such as the current energy crisis, depleting fossil fuel resources, alternative energy sources, energy efficiency, climate change, and natural hazards. It is the first program of its kind to address these issues with the new generation in India and abroad. The programs held previously in Jammu, Kargil and Leh (Jammu and Kashmir); Jodhpur and Jaisalmer (Rajasthan); Hazaribag (Jharkhand) in India, and in Accra & Kumasi in Ghana (West Africa) have been a resounding success. The response has been overwhelming and it has made a visible impact on the lives and perceptions of the children involved. Future programs are planned in Mendoza, Argentina (South America) in October this year and Bhaderwah (Jammu & Kashmir, India) in 2015.

Along with Jonathan Craig (ENI spa), Ghulam M. Bhat (IERT), and Juergen Thurow (University College, London), EGI Affiliate Scientist Dr. Bindra Thusu is one of the founding members of the Students’ Education Program.  He chaired the 2014 Students’ Education Program in Leh, Nyoma and Puga (Ladakh, India). Committed to the communities of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Thusu has dedicated countless hours to the program over the years.  In addition to organizing and teaching in the program, Dr. Thusu has been a generous supporter of the program as well. Dr. Thusu is a Visiting Professor & Chairman, Advisory Board, at the Institute of Energy Research and Training (IERT), University of Jammu, India as well as Senior Research Fellow & Research Supervisor, Maghreb Petroleum Research Group (MPRG), Earth Sciences Department, University College London, UK.

Dr. Kuldip Thusu and his daughter Ashima (pictured in the Gallery below), both from California, have made significant contributions to the Education Program. Dr. Kuldip Thusu, CEO, Universal Biopharma contributed critical financial support and Ashima Thusu through fundraising at her school, Clovis North Educational Center in Clovis, CA also generated donations for the event.

Dr. Bindra Thusu works in a team of dedicated people who play an important role in making this event a grand success.

EGI Affiliate Scientist Dr. Ghulam M. Bhat, is Professor in Geology & Director of the Institute of Energy Research and Training (IERT), University of Jammu, India. With 27 years teaching experience, he has played a vital role in making the Students’ Education Program a success. To his credit he has numerous national and international collaborations with academia and industry that have paved the way for the future and growth of this Education Program. Prof. Bhat is Rector at the Bhaderwah Campus, University of Jammu, India, as well as Research Fellow, Maghreb Petroleum Research Group (MPRG), Earth Sciences Department, University College London, UK.

EGI Advisory Board Member Dr. Jonathan Craig, is Visiting Professor & Advisory Board Co-Chairman at the Institute of Energy Research and Training (IERT), University of Jammu, India. A dedicated teacher, his lecture presentations leave a lasting impact on attendees of the Students’ Education Program. Dr. Craig is a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of CASP, CeREES University of Durham and the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), and House of Delegates and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Maghreb Petroleum Research Group (MPRG) at University College, London. Dr. Craig is Vice President, ENI spa E & P division, Milan (Italy).

Dr. Naveen Hakhoo, is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Energy Research and Training (IERT), University of Jammu, India and former EGI Graduate Fellow. He co-chaired the 2014 Students’ Education Program in Leh, Nyoma, and Puga (Ladakh, India). Dr. Hakhoo has played a vital role in organizing the Education Program since 2007-2008 and he also co-authored (with Prof. Bhat) the first booklet on ‘Hydrocarbons, Climate Change and Global Warming’ that has been a primary feature of the Education Program. He is, as Dr. Bindra Thusu describes, the principal force behind this incredible program. Dr. Hakhoo has worked for EGI as a Visiting Scientist and contributed to the India Subcontinent Shale Resource Plays, Phase 1 project with research focusing on the Himalayan Foreland Basin. Dr. Hakhoo is also a contributor to this article.

Mr. Mateen Hafiz is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Energy Research and Training (IERT), University of Jammu, India and has been contributing to the Education Program since 2010. Mr. Hafiz is an EGI Ph.D. Graduate Fellow and is contributing to the better understanding of the India Shale Resources as part of India Subcontinent Shale Resource Plays, Phase 1. Mr. Hafiz will complete his Ph. D. in the last quarter of 2014.

EGI Research Assistant Professor Sudeep Kanugo participated and represented EGI in the Accra, Ghana Students’ Education Program in 2010.

View a  photo gallery of EGI’s 2014 journey to the Himalaya below. Click on any image to view full size or begin a slideshow of the gallery.