SOAS University of London

Tibetan Studies at SOAS

Pure Earths? The environmental challenges facing Tibet in the twenty-first century


Date: 15 April 2011Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 15 April 2011Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili lecture theatre

Type of Event: Conference

Tibet is known as the world's Third Pole, containing the largest glacially stored fresh water outside of the Arctic and the Antarctic. The high-altitude landscape is made up of grasslands surrounded by snow mountains and embedded with a unique flora and fauna. The Tibetan environment has been kept intact by the stewards of the Tibetan plateau, the Tibetan nomads. However, the plateau has been affected by direct and indirect effects of climate change as well as the changing of traditional living patterns. External and internal factors are impacting on the Tibetan environment radically, melting glaciers, degrading pastoral ecosystems and endangering species.

This conference is being organised to facilitate a cohesive understanding of the threats that Tibet's environment is facing. Scholars with expertise and experience of field research in Tibet, particularly with regard to environmental matters in Tibet, have been invited and are confirmed to speak at the conference. More details will be announced soon.

  • Tobias Bolch (University of Zurich): Recent climate and glacier changes impacting on the Tibetan Plateau and its surroundings.
  • Tenzin Dorjee (Tendor) (Students for a Free Tibet): The Last Nomad: Can Tibetan Nomads Survive China's Ethnocide?
  • Andrew Fischer (International Institute of Social Studies): The Great Transformation of Tibet: rapid labour transitions in times of rapid growth in the Tibet Autonomous Region
  • Gabriel Lafitte: No Home on the Range: Excluding Tibetan nomads to grow grass?
  • Mika Sillanpää (Helsinki University of Technology): Impact of mining activities on Tibetan rivers
  • Emilia Sulek (Humboldt University Berlin): Caterpillar Fungus (Yartsa Gunbu) of Amdo
  • Emily T. Yeh (University of Colorado): Environmentalism in Tibet

This event is free and open to the public. Preregistration is not required, but those wishing to express their intention to attend can e-mail Padma Fielitz (padma at

Organiser: Dr Nathan W. Hill

Contact email:

Sponsor: SOAS Tibet Society, Students for a Free Tibet UK