This is my last semester at Bard Center for Environmental Policy (BCEP) at Bard College. Instead of letting my near-graduation-anxieties dominate my remaining time here at BCEP. I decided to look back and to share with you some of my experiences as a member of the BCEP community.
Upon completing my undergraduate studies at Duke University in 2009, I–like so many others-was excited to finally take the long-waited step to go off-campus and begin making a positive change in the world-at-large. However, when reality sets in, when it’s time to shoulder the promises and to try to materialize the ambitions we so often extol in our personal statement and job cover letters, your graduation excitement subsides, and you find yourself asking “But how?” It’s one thing to decide, “I want to save the world, to cool down global warming, to patch up the black hole, to steer a whole city away from a catastrophic hurricane and to reinstall all the retreating glaciers”. Even after this dedication to an ideal of service, the question remains, “how does one go about doing all these great things”? In the absence of a concrete answer of my own, not knowing exactly how I was going to bring about my dream of preserving and promoting the environment and its biodiversity in Tibet, I decided to pursue further education.
My academic enrichment at Duke led me to understand that I need to further my education to better equip myself with skills for a lifetime of service: To people around the world in need of comprehensive advocacy, to the fast vanishing Tibetan culture and environment desperately in need of preservation, and to our planet in a time of unprecedented threats of human-induced climate change.
At BCEP, my academic works have included but were not limited to investigation of various human-induced environmental problems, exploration of cost efficient solutions, digitization of geographic information, statistical analysis of legal means to regulate environmentally destructive practices and promotion of comprehensive legislations to reduce planet-warming pollution emissions.
I also undertook a literature review on Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) that aims to reconcile biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development interest of multiple stakeholders in areas of significant biodiversity value at local regional, national and international level. I was involved in a Carbon Alleviation Project, which aims to replace fossil fuel powered heating and cooling systems at Bard College with Solar thermal system. Currently, I am working on my master’s thesis, which evaluates Chinese Governmental effects on grassland degradation in Tibet. More specifically, I look at the role that plateau-burrowing mammals, such as plateau pikas and zokors, play in the plateau ecosystem. I analyze the efficiency of grassland enclosure and nomads sedentarization under the umbrella Chinese ecological construction program, tuimu huancao (retire pastureland, return grassland) policy. The learning experience doesn’t stop there. In the program, we get to know each other well and have the opportunity to interact with faculty members on a regular basis.
Of course, there’s more to life at BCEP than academics. Bonfire right by Hudson River, Intramural Basketball and Soccer, and Hiking trips to some of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the Hudson Valley are only a few of the many fun things we engage in here at BCEP. More importantly, with every group project you work on, every basketball game you play, every dinner party you attend, you weave another thread in a social network that stretches to many corners of the world.
Within a few months, I will be taking yet another step to go off-campus and to join the real world work force, and I hope that it will somehow be able to compare, in excitement and enrichment, to my experience at BCEP.
By Tupgon Chad