News & Resources

Featured Faculty: Dieter Bouma, Conservation & Development in the Indian Tropics

Posted by lindsaybarden in College Program in Staff | Oct 21, 2015

Dieter Bouma, professor of “Conservation & Development in the Indian Tropics” has a long and enduring history with Au Sable Institute. First visiting Au Sable as a child when his father Rolf Bouma began teaching Environmental Ethics in 1992, Dieter grew into many different roles at the Institute over the years, from seasonal worker to student, staff member to now faculty. “Au Sable has been a formative part of my life, and I thank God for every faculty, staff member and student who played a role in directing my passion for caring for God’s earth,” says Dieter.

A recipient of not one but two graduate degrees, Bouma holds a Master of Science from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment as well as a Master of Public Policy from U of M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. His graduate research focused on community-based conservation in Nepal, home of the Himalayas and a border country with India.  Through an international forestry research program and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he researched community-based conservation, specifically how rural communities in Nepal sustainably manage their forests.  The work required interdisciplinary study of forest ecology, social organization, cultural practices, and policy prescriptions and Dieter brings this interdisciplinary lens to studies in the Indian subtropics.

Professor Bouma’s passion for and inspiration to work and teach in India has come from the people and places he has encountered there. A country of immense diversity, cultural and biological, “India is forging its economic, social, and ecological future which makes it the perfect setting for exploring issues in conservation and development,” states Bouma. Executive Director Fred Van Dyke noted, “Dieter brings interdisciplinary education and experience to a course that integrates the science of conservation biology, the legal and political framework of environmental policy, and the social context of Indian culture to accomplish its learning goals. Having actually lived, worked and studied in this part of the world, he can show students the significance and subtleties of these interactions in ways they might otherwise miss.” 

In addition to his graduate studies, Bouma gained experience in environmental conservation while working as a watershed specialist for the Huron River Watershed Council and the City of Ann Arbor. He was a student of the Institute in 2004 and 2005, crediting his courses in ‘Tropical Agriculture and Missions,’ ‘Stream Ecology,’ and ‘Woody Plants’ with preparing him for his graduate studies in Nepal.  He was also a member of the Au Sable Graduate Fellows Program from 2007 to 2010.

Outside of his work with Au Sable, Dieter, his wife Deena and their new son Shalom enjoy spending time with family and friends here in Michigan and Kerala, India; both being places they call home. Dieter likes to spend as much time as possible in the outdoors, most recently building a garden and tending to the natural spaces that surround his home. In his spare time Dieter is learning Malayalam, the state language of Kerala, and honing his Indian cooking skills.

For interested students there is still time to apply for Professor Dieter Bouma’s January course “Conservation & Development in the Indian Tropics,”

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