History and Purpose

Our Story

There is growing consensus that conservation and natural resource conflict management efforts are failing, but there is a reluctance to fully reflect upon these failures. While commitment and hard work are not lacking, often, what is missing is a clear understanding of where we were, where we are, and where we want to go. Related to this is the systemic problem facing many organizations and individuals, where the focus is often on responding to the immediate needs of the communities and ecosystems on whose behalf they are working. Rarely is the time taken to reflect and regroup. When assessment and planning is done, methods used by many organizations often fail to maximize the potential, learning, and creativity of the sum of these experiences.

Formed in 2003, the Samdhana Institute offers an institutional home and living community for those who wish to devote more of their time and energy to the work they are committed to and mentor the next generation. Samdhana's community of practitioners was forned by a small group of individuals: conservationists, development practitioners, and human rights activists. These first Samdhana Fellows shared a commitment of 'giving back' what they have learned to the following generations, bringing together skills, knowledge, experience, and extensive local and global networks.

Our Purpose

The Samdhana Institute works to:

  • Offer opportunities as well as support for individuals and groups to remove themselves from their immediate environment and reflect upon and communicate their experience and ideas.
  • Enhance and enrich understanding of innovative approaches to sustainable resource management and broaden options for local communities.
  • Support efforts to increase understanding, development and implementation of appropriate methods for conflict management and mediation, with a focus on conflict over access to and management of natural resources.
  • Facilitate individual, inter-group and community learning and skills sharing.
  • Provide small grants for community members, groups, their partners and support organizations to implement key activities related to these purposes.

Today, with a growing network of fellows, Samdhana assists in environmental conflict and mediation support and helps local organizations to reflect upon on their approaches to: i) problem identification and strategic planning ii) leading change processes iii) monitoring and assessment and iv) reflection upon effectiveness. The Samdhana approach is to have Fellows work closely with partners over time and during critical periods in program development.

Samdhana further provides space at its retreat centers for local groups and networks to come together to reflect upon and share their experiences and perhaps most important, to rest. These gatherings are organized by Fellows who specialize in facilitation and retreat. When reflection is the priority, the learning is captured and shared at local and international levels. Individual retreats or sabbaticals are also welcome and are custom designed.