Griffith alumnus, Dr Hum Gurung, received the Australian Alumni Award for Community Service at the Australian Alumni Excellence Awards held in Kathmandu on Monday 20th January.
The award recognises Dr Gurung’s exemplary contribution towards the advancement of the community through selfless service.
Since completing his PhD at Griffith in 2008, Dr Gurung has dedicated his life to promoting environmental conservation in Nepal.
Professor Ralf Buckley, principal supervisor of Dr Gurung’s PhD and Director of Griffith’s International Centre for Ecotourism Research said Dr Gurung has become a respected ambassador of conservation between Nepal and Australia.
“When we ran a field course for our ecotourism students in Annapurna and Chitwan some years ago, it was Dr Gurung who arranged all the logistics and local contacts, negotiated some difficult politics at the time, and arranged for local experts to give us the benefits of their practical experience,” Professor Buckley said.
Since then, Dr Gurung has worked with the Government of Nepal on a variety of projects, including the formulation of Nepal’s Sustainable Development Agenda.
He has also provided consultancy services to global environmental organisations including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Dr Gurung is often invited as a keynote speaker to share his knowledge and expertise in the field of biodiversity conservation, sustainable tourism and environmental education. He is also one of the most quoted conservationists in Nepal in both print and electronic media.
As the third resident from his village (Sikles in central Nepal) to receive a PhD, Dr Gurung is dedicated to promoting education in his local community. Through his roles as President of the Chandra Gurung Conservation Foundation and President of the Tamu Educational and Career Advancement Network (TECANET), Dr Gurung plays a key role in promoting education and career development and providing scholarships to students experiencing financial hardship.
Professor Jean-Marc Hero, Deputy Director of the Environmental Futures Research Institute at Griffith University said that Dr Gurung has helped to formalise strong links between Griffith University and many government and non-government organisations in Nepal.
“Dr Gurung continues to play a vital role in maintaining these relationships and ensuring the teaching and research programs continue into the future,” he said.
Dr Gurung is currently investigating opportunities for further partnerships with Griffith University with the view of developing volunteer opportunities for Australian nursing students to work in Sikles and provide much needed support to local health workers.