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UNC Faculty Researcher Earns Fifth Award through Fulbright Program

Nepal damage from earthquake

March 22, 2018

Above: A temple in  Bhaktapur, Nepal, collapsed around a statue of the Buddha in the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Courtesy: ICMS, Kathmandu.

University of Northern Colorado Associate Professor Karen Barton will spend six weeks in Nepal this winter after being awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant to conduct a study of natural hazards.

Karen Barton

Barton will work with the Institute for Crisis Management Studies in Kathmandu with Dr. Ram Thapaliya. Their study from Dec. 1 through Jan. 12 will involve natural hazards mapping and community resilience in the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake, which killed over 9,000 people. Up to 10 UNC undergraduate and graduate students, co-chaperoned by UNC Pofessor James Doerner, will join Barton from Dec. 7-21 and will conduct interviews with area residents and map high-risk hazard sites. 

This is the fifth time Barton has been selected for a Fulbright program award. Through the program, she conducted separate seminars in Brazil (2007) and the Middle East (2010). In 2016, she was one of 16 faculty members in the nation selected to attend a five-week program on religion and diversity in West Africa. And last year, she was selected as a visiting scholar at Dagon University in Burma.

Barton, who teaches Geography and GIS at UNC, is an expert on rural agricultural and fishing communities, and local responses to environmental change.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State oversees the Fulbright Specialist Program, which provides opportunities for U.S. academicians and professionals in project-based exchanges worldwide.

About the Project

  • Project title: “Expedition Educate”
  • Agencies involved: Support from the Fulbright program and William E. Hewit Institute for History and Social Science Education
  • Project outcomes: 1) Interview residents in the Kavrepalanchok District outside of Kathmandu to better understand community resilience in the face of natural hazards and global climate change. 2) Work with Institute for Crisis Management Studies to map natural hazards risk in the Kavrepalanchok District.
  • How she got involved: “Earlier in 2017, Dr. Ram Thapaliya invited me to collaborate with the Institute for Crisis Management Studies. Colorado and Nepal share similar physical geographic challenges in the wake of global climate change so there are some great synergies between these two locations.  I believe that our institutions have much to learn from one another and this project will contribute to a long-term collaboration.”

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