Dr. David Adams founded the Institute for Global Studies in 1999. He has set up academic internships for U.C. Santa Barbara, San Francisco State, and other universities. His connections to leading researchers and organizations led to the current offerings posted on this website. Dr. Adams is a featured lecturer for Smithsonian and National Geographic in Asia and the Pacific. A cultural anthropologist who completed his doctoral studies at the University of Hawaii, he likewise holds Masters Degrees in anthropology and religion and an undergraduate degree in philosophy. David's research interests include the relationship between religion and ecology, environmental ethics, and wilderness preservation. David works one on one with prospective interns to provide personalized service throughout the process. His years of experience allow him to custom place interns in unique fields that help them grow as individuals and benefit the organization. He is the author of two books: Season of the Loon and Samsara: both are available on Amazon.com and explore the relationships between cultures and the natural environment.
by David Adams
In 1988, wearing a High School letterman jacket one size too large and braces minus the wire that I habitually removed, I entered Lewis and Clark College. Carl Sagan's Cosmos yet ruled the universe and Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth was the preferred stocking stuffer for many a Lewis and Clark freshman.
Two of the most potent myths that Campbell propagated were: 1) there really is such a thing as a "good day to die" for many indigenous cultures; 2) when making life decisions, the greatest advice is to "follow your bliss."
Crossing boundaries in their disparate forms is the single greatest purveyor of wisdom in travel abroad. With each boundary crossed comes a deeper awareness of place. And, sense of place is what separates the traveler from the tourist.
In 2003 I led twelve U.C. Santa Barbara students on a six-week field course to Fiji. As a cultural anthropologist, I was eager to kick off the village stay component. Well-off twenty-something’s would soon be delivered into the belly of a beast: a dark past percolating through a culture’s veins. To put it bluntly, our village hosts were headhunters. Well . . . they used to be. Not in some foggy headman’s memory captured in a fireside story.
My last border crossing into a communist country was ten years ago: a horseshoe up through Norway and down into the iron belly of the Russian rust belt. Entering Vietnam airspace, I felt the same angst/excitement that I knew on that midnight crossing into the Red World. Our approach mirrored the same flight path used by B52 bombers to obliterate the city that would soon be my host. I pressed my forehead against the warmth of the plane window and wondered exactly what I was getting mysel into. As the plane banked right, an endless horizon of verdant rice fields came into view.
When I told all my friends that I would be going to Fiji for six weeks they said I was the luckiest guy in the world… they were right. I had no idea what to expect. I mean I’ve heard that once you go to Fiji you will never want to return. Before I left for my excursion I did a little reading into how the Fijians live, what they eat, and what customs they have.
I have never been the type of person to spend my free time at my place I work. This changed my first week at the Wellington Botanical Gardens. On my first full day in New Zealand, I decided to visit the gardens that I would be intern at for the next three months. I found myself wonderfully entranced by them almost immediately. The gardens drew me away from everyday life: I lost myself in the beauty of nature.
It has been about three months since I returned from Nepal. I’ve noticed some changes in myself since returning. The most obvious change is my relationship to Philosophy. I’m back to my studies at the University of Arizona now, and I can really feel a change. One of my issues with my philosophy studies is its Western focus. This was one of the reasons studying Buddhism in Nepal was so appealing to me.
"This book is a tour de force. No one has attempted to bring together such a wide range of people and movements under the rubric of Spiritual Ecology. The result is deeply engaging for scholars and activists alike. Sponsel has given us a gem." Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology,Yale University
"This is a subject that should have been documented long ago–this wise and careful book fills an important gap, and does it with real power." Bill McKibben, author Eaarth