Vacancy for the post of Resident Lecturer in Mountain Ecology

Announcements | Posted on 2015-06-30

The SFS program on Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition (fall semester), located in Bhutan seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented individual to serve as part of a residential team of faculty and staff who deliver an interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experience to students spending a semester abroad. Partnering with the Bhutanese Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), this program will present a rich learning landscape for students exploring people’s relationship with the environment and conservation.

On a contract basis, during the six-week summer program, the Resident Lecturer will teach approximately one-third of the Himalayan Forests, Watersheds, and Rural Livelihood course, and  during the fall semester, the Resident Lecturer will teach the Mountain Ecology course as well as teach one-third of the Directed Research course. Contribute to student learning  in the areas of conservation planning, natural resource use, and rural development. Lead designated components of the programs research plan and, as part of this, oversee, mentor, and grade the student directed research projects

Institutional Mission:

SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Our educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by our local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where we live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship.

Program Focus:

In 2008, the Kingdom of Bhutan shifted the government structure from a monarchy to a constitutional democratic monarchy, opening the door for devolution of authority over natural resources, among other things, to regional governments and communities. Because the majority of Bhutanese resides in rural areas and depends on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods, the sustainable management of natural resources is critical for achieving the four pillars of Gross National Happiness. In collaboration with UWICE, SFS students and faculty help advance Bhutan’s research agenda in several priority areas, including community forestry, human-wildlife interactions, and biodiversity conservation.

Course Description: Mountain Ecology

What are mountains made of? What is their role in the world? Bhutan is synonymous with “mountains”. Flat spots are dedicated to airports, of which there are only three in Bhutan, and to football fields. The elevation of Bhutan ranges from 100 m.a.s.l. in the south border to over 7000m in the high peaks in the north. In this compact country of 350km by 100km we find an extraordinary diversity and richness of environments, habitats, and species. In Mountain Ecology, we look at the physical environment of mountains, the geology and hydrology, climate and weather. Mountain habitats and biodiversity are distinct from lowland environments. This course will look at the effect of elevation on vegetation, at the special features of mountain animals, and finally at the threats that climate change and other human-generated environmental changes pose to mountains and high elevation habitats in the Himalayas.


Course Description: Directed Research

The aim of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to apply ecological, biological, and/or social-scientific methods to a field research project that addresses a local issue related to the environment. We will also investigate the ways that various methods and theories distinguish (or don’t) fact from interpretation, cause from correlation, and advocacy from objectivity. The directed research topics are derived from the SFS Center’s Five Year Research Plan (currently in development) as defined by the Center staff and local stakeholders. Through the Directed Research project, students will contribute to a growing body of scientific research that informs local conservation and resource management decisions. SFS program lecturers lead a small group of students in this research component of the program.

Applicants are encouraged to review proposed course syllabi and programs descriptions on the SFS website:


Program Schedule and Locations:

Faculty are required to report to the Center in August 2015 (date to be determined) for preparation for the semester-long program which takes place September 7 – December 20, 2015. The semester program will also include field excursions and mini-treks to surrounding areas.


Duties and Responsibilities:

Provide high quality, modern and experiential teaching in critical environmental issues in an interdisciplinary curriculum, and participate fully in the implementation of the program’s research plan that addresses these issues. The publication of research results is critical. Work closely with the other program lecturers to deliver an interdisciplinary program through education and research in a field setting. Each lecturer is expected to provide high quality, inquiry-based teaching and will lead students in Directed Research projects defined in the program’s research plan.



  • As part of an interdisciplinary teaching team, teach a significant portion of the academic program
  • Plan, revise, and effectively deliver a challenging, problem-based interdisciplinary curriculum
  • Organize lectures and prepare course materials in a timely and professional manner
  • Adhere to the daily academic schedule
  • Prepare, administer, and grade assignments, quizzes, mid-term and final examinations
  • Supervise and mentor a student research group in Directed Research projects
  • Actively support and counsel students on academic issues
  • Maintain an organized course portfolio



  • Help design the program’s research plan and conduct designated research according to it
  • Identify appropriate components of the program’s research plan suitable for student Directed Research projects
  • Prepare research results for clients and partners and for publication and conference presentations
  • Assist in the creation and implementation of program research policies, priorities, budgets as required
  • Follow data management, record keeping, and reporting systems
  • Present research findings at local and international conferences (budget dependent)      



  • Participate in planning activities prior to the program start and in review/analysis following students' departure
  • Participate in training activities for new program staff prior to and during the program, particularly interns
  • Participate in and lead parts of the orientation and re-entry components of the program presented to students at the beginning and end of each program period
  • In cooperation with other program staff, provide day-to-day coordination of interns as delegated by the program director
  • Participate in resolving group management issues and student discipline problems
  • Participate in preparation of the final reports, academic handbook revisions and other required reports
  • As requested by the program director, assist with other logistical, group management, and administrative tasks


Safety & Risk Management:              

  • Take responsibility, as an individual and as a member of the program faculty/staff team, for the safety of all program participants
  • Participate in the review and revision of program risk assessment and management plans
  • Know the emergency procedures plan for the field station, including evacuation plan
  • Participate in the safety portions of the on-site orientation and conduct safety briefings for students and/or staff
  • Complete incident reports when appropriate and contribute to safety audits
  • Comply with, actively model, and enforce all SFS and program policies and procedures
  • Ensure that first-aid certifications are kept up to date


Daily Center Life:

  • Live on-site for the duration of each program period and take meals with the students
  • On a rotating basis, take responsibility for "staff of the day" duties
  • Take part in, and occasionally lead community outreach, site upkeep projects, social and field activities
  • Drive standard transmission vehicles  as needed
  • Adhere to, actively model and enforce all SFS and program policies and procedures


Minimum qualifications:

  • Ph.D. and university-level teaching experience in areas related to ecology or biodiversity conservation with emphasis in mountain or alpine systems. Candidates with a Master’s degree and significant scholarship may be considered
  • Field research and/or project implementation experience
  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary teaching and research team
  • Track record of research publications or professional activity
  • Demonstrated commitment to environmental issues


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience working in the Himalayan region, particularly in Bhutan
  • Experience teaching field courses or work with study abroad programs
  • Residential student group management and risk management experience highly desirable


Other Expectations:

  • Obtain First Aid certification prior to first day of work (SFS reimbursable available)
  • Willingness to work flexible hours and live on site at the field station with a small team of permanent staff, groups of US undergraduate students
  • Participation in all program activities
  • Represent SFS at local and international meetings and conferences
  • At all times, work to ensure good relations between the SFS and the local community



This is a contract position with a flexible start date, but we are hoping for July 2015.   The contract will end in December 31, 2015 with continuance depending on successful completion of duties and sufficient student enrollment. Base salary starts at 1,00,000/month with additional benefits package and salary increases based on experience and qualifications. On-site room and board included for the duration of the semester.


Bumthang, Bhutan


Report to:
Program Director


For further clarifications of roles and responsibilities contact