Human communication

International Research Opportunity: Sri Lanka


How to register

Applications should be submitted on November 1, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

The application requires the following information:

  • Personal information: your name, NSHE ID number, university email address
  • Academic information: Year of study, major, quarter of expected graduation
  • Your transcript (unofficial or official) from the University of Nevada, Reno
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • At least one faculty member of the University, the other can be a faculty member, employer or supervisor.
    • None of the recommenders should be related to the requester.
    • In the request, you must provide their name, title and email.
    • Applicants should contact recommenders directly with the link to the application form.
  • Your CV / CV in PDF or Word Doc (x) format
  • Three mandatory application essays (each, a single-spaced page with inch margins and 12 point Times font) uploaded in PDF or Word Doc (x) format:
    • Essay question 1) Explain how participating in this project will improve your understanding of your discipline (major) and / or profession, as well as how it relates to your future projects
    • Essay question 2) This project will require students to work in interdisciplinary groups, learn new methodologies for fieldwork, collect and process data, and engage with different communities. With this in mind, give a narrative explanation of relevant work experience and / or coursework completed
    • Essay question 3) This project will cover student travel and accommodation costs related to the project in Sri Lanka, while providing students with the opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research on many aspects of natural resource management. Please explain how this program will create an opportunity for you that might not otherwise be available
    • A short answer explaining your experience with social media, community engagement and / or communications and outreach (limit of 1250 characters).

After November 1, applications will be reviewed and finalists will be invited for an interview later this month.

Sri Lankan student application

Referral form

Resources for applicants

This project draws on a variety of scholarly conversations. To better understand the project and help students write their essays, we suggest you consult some of the following resources:

Human-Elephant Conflict

  • Corea, R. (2006). “Establishing a sustainable model for long-term elephant conservation in Sri Lanka. ” Gajah, 24, 13-17.
  • Fernando, P. (2015). “Managing elephants in Sri Lanka: where we are and where we need to be”. Ceylon Journal of Science (biological sciences), 44 (1), 1-11. doi: 10.4038 / cjsbs.v44i1.7336
  • Fernando, P., De Silva, MKCR, ​​Jayasinghe, LKA, Janaka, HK, & Pastorini, J. (2019). “First Nationwide Survey of the Endangered Asian Elephant: Towards Better Conservation and Management in Sri Lanka. ” Oryx, 1-10. doi: 10.1017 / S0030605318001254
  • King L, Pardo M, Weerathunga S, Kumara TV, Jayasena N, Soltis J and de Silva S. (2018). “Sri Lankan wild elephants retreat from the sound of disturbing Asian bees.” Current biology, 28 (2): R64-R65. DOI: 10.1016 / j.cub.2017.12.018.
  • Köpke, S .; Withanachchi, SS; Pathiranage, R .; Withanachchi, CR; Gamage, DU; Nissanka, TS; Warapitiya, CC; Nissanka, BM; Ranasinghe, NN; Senarathna, CD; et al. (2021) Human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka: a critical examination of causal explanations. Durability, 13, 8625. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158625
  • Lainé, N. (2018). “Conservation of Asian elephants: too elephantocentric? Towards a biocultural approach to conservation. Asian Bioethics Journal, 10 (4), 279-293. doi: 10.1007 / s41649-018-0070-z

Context of interdisciplinary research

  • Alagan R & Aladuwaka S. (2012). “Innovative Public Participatory GIS Methodologies Adopted to Address the Challenges of the Social Impact Assessment Process: A Sri Lankan Experience. ” URISA review, 24 (2): 19.
  • Druschke CG, Reynolds N, Morton-Aiken J, Lofgren IE, Karraker NE and McWilliams SR. (2018). “Better Science Through Rhetoric: A New Model and Pilot Program for Training Graduate Students in Science Writing.” ” Quarterly technical communication, 27 (2): 175-190. DOI: 10.1080 / 10572252.2018.1425735.
  • Gilless JK. (2015). “The Berkeley Summit — Looking to the Future of Forestry Education. ” Forestry Journal, 113 (6): 587-591. DOI: 10.5849 / jof.15-066.
  • Herndl CG, Goodwin J, Honeycutt L, Wilson G, Graham SS and Niedergeses D. (2011). “Talking About Sustainability: Identification and Division in an Iowa Community.” Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 35 (4): 436-461. DOI: 10.1080 / 10440046.2011.562068.
  • Smith, LT (2005). “Create a research agenda for Indigenous epistemologies and education. ” Anthropology and quarterly education, 36 (1), 93-95. doi: 10.1525 / aeq.2005.36.1.093
  • Waddell, C. (1995). “Definition of sustainable development: a case study in environmental communication”. Quarterly technical communication, 4 (2), 201-216.
  • Walker, G. (2007). “Public participation as participatory communication in environmental policy decision-making: from concepts to structured conversations”. Environmental communication: a journal of nature and culture, 1 (1), 99-110. doi: 10.1080 / 17524030701334342

Project partners

Summary of the NSF grant

Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) is an ecosystem management problem in Sri Lanka. Each year, on average more than 70 people and 200 elephants die from HEC. The elephant’s current range covers 60% of the country, of which 70% coexist with humans. In all areas where humans and elephants coexist, there have been reports of CHE. As Sri Lanka’s population grew, agricultural production had to expand into habitats historically used by elephants for fodder. Students working on this project will map and study interactions between humans and elephants around Wasgamuwa National Park.

Participating students will conduct research in collaboration with and under the direction of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS), an internationally renowned non-governmental organization that works with communities and other stakeholders to mitigate HEC in surrounding areas. Wasgamuwa National Park. The SLWCS identifies and develops new and innovative ways to deter humans and elephants from coming into contact with each other, thereby saving the lives of humans and elephants. SLWCS does this by facilitating collaborative ecosystem management between communities. Using GIS technology driven by community participatory research, students will develop research questions to better understand the parameters of HEC. Additionally, students will consult with professors from the University of Peradeniya and the University of Colombo to explore the historical context and ethical nature of their research. Other research institutes in Sri Lanka, including the American Institute for Sir Lanka Studies and the Center for Conservation and Research, will organize workshops for students, introducing them to other research resources and networks.

This proposal requires 3 years of funding to take 9 undergraduates to Sri Lanka to work with SLWCS. Each year 9 new students will be selected, supporting a total of 27 students during the duration of the scholarship. All students will be undergraduate students enrolled full-time in a degree research program at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). To emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of collaborative ecosystem management, each student cohort will include students studying both STEM disciplines and the humanities.

Students participating in this project will travel to Sri Lanka to work with SLWCS for 8 weeks during the summer. Prior to departure, students will take a course on GIS methodologies and an interdisciplinary team-taught course on ecology, natural resource management and environmental communication. While in Sri Lanka, students will collect field data using a variety of methodologies from different disciplines under the guidance of SLWCS researchers. SLWCS researchers will act as mentors for the students, with each student focusing on a specific project. Once students have completed their fieldwork and returned to UNR, they will work with faculty to turn their research into scholarship.


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