Ashira Weinreich


Project Title: World Cultural Medicine, Biocultural Diversity of Health Practices

Project Description: My thesis examines parallels among varying ethnic and cultural groups' healing practices and beliefs. Each medicinal system of study arose in and reflects diverse cultural, political, geographic and religious ecosystems that shape perspectives on health and healing. My case study in the Himalayas of Nepal explores the role of biocultural diversity on health and, specifically, how medicinal plant knowledge contributes to health sovereignty in times of cultural and environmental change. Medicinal and cultural pluralism inform my aspirations as a health scholar. 

Most Important Accomplishment: I conducted 85 interviews in Tsum Valley, Nepal, in Spring/Summer 2023. The nutritional and medicinal significance of plants were examined in the daily lives of villagers. To give back to the community, I worked with partners to create a book showcasing the 20 most frequently mentioned medicinal plants in Tsum Valley. I distributed books in Nepali, Tibetan (similar to the local language Tsumke), and English to Tsum community members. My case study provides a framework to conceptualize medicine and health through a multidisciplinary lens.

Reflections on the College Scholar Program: I believe that exploration and discovery are inherently interdisciplinary, requiring people of all backgrounds and interests to inform perceptions and applications of health. The College Scholar program aligns with this philosophy, allowing me to pursue and hone my interests in a structured but interdisciplinary manner.