Review of the KU 2015 Fellowship

KU Development Studies students and YI data experts at a joint AidData-YI presentation

KU Development Studies students and YI data experts at a joint AidData-YI presentation

Aarti and I achieved most of our goals at KU and paved a clear path for future collaboration with AidData.One of our greatest successes over the summer was in coordinating with Young Innovations – the technical arm of the Open Nepal Movement ¬– to assist with GIS trainings for the graduate students. In the process, Aarti and I had extensive contact with a number of skilled individuals at YI who will be valuable partners for AidData in the future. Young Innovations was also instrumental in helping to coordinate a second Open Nepal Conference, a meeting of various leaders of Nepal’s civil society, academic, and government institutions to discuss open data.

The much-anticipated GIS in the Social Sciences class that Aarti and I designed had not fully materialized by the time we left. The school needed a syllabus, an experienced teacher willing to teach it, and a receptive administrative body to set the course into motion. We created the syllabus, received a stamp of approval from the key administrators, and identified a number of potential professors. There is still work to be done, as a qualified instructor is required by the school to have formal GIS training. It remains to be seen whether we will be able to find the ideal candidate – a social scientist within driving distance of KU with a degree or certificate in GIS – or if we will need to provide training through AidData or another GIS-capable institution.

The key to getting KU on board with GIS is seeing this course through to the end. The connections and much of the infrastructure are already there; KU has contacts at a wide variety of geospatial vendors and users, and has generated a fair number of its own GIS adepts through the Geomatics program in Dhulikhel and the Summer Fellows trainings in Hattiban. The SOA computer lab is fully outfitted with a set of advanced GIS software licenses, but these are set to expire in the summer of 2015. Moving forward, it is important that AidData, the School of Arts, and our contacts at various other organizations throughout Nepal conclude our search for a suitable professor before the licenses expire again. This will help to ensure that the momentum generated over the last few months continues to spur new ideas in GIS, development studies, and the intersection between the two.

I look forward to seeing “AidData, Nepal, Summer 2015” posts. As always, I welcome the advice and criticism of informed readers, particularly those looking to continue AidData’s work in Hattiban.

Cheers and namaste,
Peter Colwell


  1. Rebecca Schectman says:

    It’s really interesting to hear perspectives from other AidData Summer Fellows experiences. Every host organization has different requests and each Fellow faced a number of unique challenges. In creating awareness about GIS, forming a syllabus and involving the administration of KU in this future course, you’ve taken big steps toward increasing the reach of geospatial data in Nepal. It’s cool that you’ve created a roadmap for trainings to continue after you fly home. Looking forward to hearing what happens moving forward!