Founded in 1981, the Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology (CDSA) is one of the largest teaching departments at Tribhuvan University in terms of both student enrollments and faculty. Each academic year, more than 500 students enroll themselves for Master’s Degree Program in sociology and anthropology. Although sociology and anthropology at Masters’ Level are taught in 33 campuses and colleges (18 constituent campuses and 15 affiliated colleges) of Tribhuvan University, CDSA is the first choice of aspiring students pursuing their Master’s Degree owing to its well managed faculty and suitable academic environment. The department’s courses in sociology and anthropology for Master’s level students consist of five common courses focusing on concepts, theories and methods for the first year. In the second year, the department offers one common course for both sociology and anthropology groups and three separate optional courses for each group. For the second year, we teach empirically based courses that address the contemporary social, political, environmental, gender, and development issues of Nepal. Out of the many optional courses, three of them, i. e., Approaches to Nepali Society and Culture, Social Stratification and Differentiation and South Asian Culture and Society deal specifically with state-society relationship and associated issues of social inclusion/exclusion based on caste, class, culture, languages, religion, gender, and geographical regions. Teaching these courses can help better understand the aspects and dynamics of social exclusion and inclusion. Dissertation writing based on field based research has been made compulsory requirement for M. A. students in sociology and anthropology. In order to manage the dissertation works of the students and ongoing research works of the faculty members, the CDSA has formed a five member Dissertation Management Committee with the department head as its Coordinator which provides academic advice and technical support to research students and faculty. In collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department also runs Ph. D. programme in sociology and anthropology. 10 students have so far received their Ph. D. degree and 29 students are pursuing their Ph.D. degree in sociology and anthropology from Tribhuvan University.
The CDSA has 33 full time faculty members trained in the US, UK, Europe, India and Nepal. They are among the most qualified and experienced teaching faculty at Tribhuvan University. All faculty members of the department supervise the M. A. students in their research and write-up of the dissertations. Many of them also supervise Ph. D. students. In addition to teaching, the faculty members are also involved in a number of ongoing research projects funded by both national and international agencies. They have also published their field-based research articles in national and international scholarly journals. Their research works and publications cover a wide range of academic interest ranging from environment, ethnicity, gender, migration, economic development and social change to the most vibrant issues of social inclusion/exclusion in Nepal. In addition to its core faculty members, it also receives Fulbright Professors and other visiting researchers from abroad time to time.
The CDSA receives a regular budget worth approximately 10 million rupees annually from Tribhuvan University to cover administrative and other management costs. It also receives grants for research and other academic programmes from various national and international institutions. In 2009, it has received the Institutional Development Grant worth US $ 125,000 for five years from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, New York for upgrading its Ph.D. programme. This programme is being implemented jointly with the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University. Under this grant, CDSA provides short term fellowship for one faculty member, pursuing Ph.D. degree in anthropology to go to Cornell University for one semester every year. Besides this, faculty can also receive grants to attend international conferences/seminars; conduct basic research of their choice; and to undertake Ph.D. field research. In the past, it has received substantial amount of grants from Norwegian Fund for Development and Education (NUFU), GTZ, Winrock International, UNDP, UNICEF, ILO, OXFAM, NFDIN to support academic research and organize international seminars. During the academic year of 2011/2011, it received Rs. 6.6 million rupees for mentoring the research works of MMRAs and HGRFs and 5.4 million rupees to organize a three day symposium on ethnicity and federalization from social Inclusion Research Fund (SIRF), SNV Secretariat/Nepal. In order to ensure the smooth operation of the research projects and provide autonomous status, CDSA has formed a separate committee, opened a separate bank account, and maintained separate accounting system. For example, the CDSA managed more than 30 million rupees during the fiscal year of 2009/2010.
The CDSA has long experience of collaborative teaching and research works with American and European universities and research institutes. It started college year in Nepal Program with the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1985 and continued it until 1991. It also had Bergen-TU Human Ecology Program with the University of Bergen-Norway from 1990 to 1996 and South Asia Study Program with the University of Heidelberg, Germany during the same period. Since 1992, Cornell-Nepal Joint Study Program is going on continuously in collaboration with Cornell University of Ithaca, New York. This is a residential program where students from the Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology and Cornell University live together and study together benefiting each other academically and culturally. Besides this institutional collaboration, it also provides research affiliation to individual researchers from US, UK, Canada, Europe, Australia. Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
CDSA also provides academic as well as applied research services to national and international development organizations. For the last several years, CDSA has been providing capacity building training and mentorship to the SIRF fellowship grantees. We feel that this collaboration with SIRF has benefitted the research grantees as well as the faculty of this department in terms of enhancement of the basic research skills of both parties in the field of social inclusion/exclusion. Given the positive experience thus far, the CDSA is interested in continuing collaboration with SIRF/SNV Nepal in future.
The CDSA organizes academic seminars, conferences and workshops not only in basic disciplines, but also in contemporary social, political and environmental issues of Nepal. Besides departmental seminars and workshops, it has already organized three international seminars. Very recently, the department organized a symposium on ethnicity and federalization that was important not only for academic communities but also for political leaders, constituent assembly members, civil servants, donor agencies, media peoples, social activists and civil society peoples. CDSA has published several books and journals. Development Practices in Nepal (1997), Seminar Proceedings on Anthropology and Sociology of Nepal: Taking Stock of Teaching, Research and Practice (2010) and occasional Papers in sociology and anthropology (vol. 1-11) are major publications of the department (see web.cdsatu.edu.np or nepjol.info for details about publication).