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Searching for Grass and Water: Nomads of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya Research Guide: Home


This guide is intended to provide an overview of resources available related to the nomadic peoples of the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions. These peoples' traditional ways of life are being significantly impacted by environmental change and shifts in global political changes.

A companion to the Searching for Grass and Water: Nomads of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya event and photography exhibit, this guide is divided into different disciplinary areas to allow you to follow your interests across the University Libraries' resources. It also contains links to external organizations and websites to provide more information from pertinent sources.

The Tibet Himalaya Initiative at CU Boulder

The Tibet Himalaya Initiative is an interdisciplinary hub for research, teaching, and public engagement on Tibet and the Himalayas. It is funded and supported by The Center for Asian Studies. The THI hosts guest speakers and events related to Tibetan and Himalayan culture, religion, and society. They also welcome visiting artists, host graduate colloquia, and provide film screenings to our academic community.

For interested students, the Center for Asian studies offers scholarship support for Tibetan and Nepali summer language study, and provides an opportunity to study Tibetan and Nepali through the Anderson Language Technology Center (ALTEC). Further study is available through an agreement with Naropa University, allowing students to take classical Tibetan and Sanskrit languages at Naropa.

Other partners include the Tsadra Foundation in Boulder, which supports the practice and study of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and the Visual Resource Center on the CU Boulder campus, which houses the Ronald M. Bernier Archive. Professor Bernier (1943-2012) was an historian of Asian art at CU Boulder who specialized in Himalyan architecture. His collection contains 30,000 slides of Nepal, Tibet, India, and Southeast Asia.

The Tibetan Plateau: Geographic Overview

Map of Tibetan Plateau

The Geography of China by Alan Mask,licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0


The Tibetan Plateau is a huge high altitude plateau that extends between mountain ranges: from the Himalaya Range to the south and the Karakoram Range to the southwest, and the Kunlun Mountains in the North. It is the world's largest plateau above sea level, covering over 970,000 square miles. The average elevation is over 14,000 feet above sea level.

Often called the "Roof of the World," the Tibetan Plateau has a tremendous number of glaciers and greatly impacts the water systems of its entire region.

Politically, it includes most of the Tibet Autonomous Range, parts of various provinces in China, as well as regions in India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Tajikistan and Krygyzstan. Since this plateau is a part of many countries, it has many names, including: the Plateau of Tibet, the Tibetan Highlands, the Quinghai-Tibet Plateau, Qingzang Gaoyuan, Ch’ing-tsang Kao-yuan, the Tibetan Highlands or the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

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