Sarah Speck
Sarah Speck, Dr.
Affiliated researcher

Research interest

Topics on people and their life and livelihoods always have sparked my interest. Particularly life, living conditions and the making of a sustainable living in countries of the Global South have fascinated me throughout my education and work as a human geographer.

My dissertation project reveals in what ways the realities and experiences of older people living in remote rural and hilly areas of Western Nepal are shaped by the current demographic transition to an aged society that is paired with the incessant process of outmigration.

Earlier research for my master’s thesis in Central Vietnam (Hué) sparked my interest on older people’s lives and livelihoods in the Global South, and how they manage their lives in today’s fast moving world.

Keywords: Ageing, Sustainable Livelihoods, Age and health, Age and social security, Sustainable development, Development cooperation, Global South, Demographic change, Life in old age, Rural livelihoods, (Out-) Migration, Intergenerational relations, Family

Regional focus: South Asia (Nepal) and Southeast Asia (Vietnam)




  • 2021 University of Zurich: Dr. Sc. Nat., Geography, Sustainable Development (IGS North-South)
  • 2012 University of Zurich: Master of Science, Geography with a Specialization in Human and Economic Geography
  • 2010 University of Zurich: Bachelor of Science, Geography

Public talks

  • Sept 2021 "Alter(n) in Nepal", ein Bildervortrag. Tibet Songtsen House – tibetisch-asiatisches Kulturzentrum, Zürich-Oerlikon.
  • Aug/Sept 2021 Migration, Ageing and Family Change: Experiences and Perceptions from Rural Nepal, Royal Geographical Society IBG Annual International Conference (online).
  • Mar 2021 Population Ageing in the Global South: Challenges and Implications. Guest lecture at the School of Geopgraphy, University College Dublin.
    Jul 2020 Population Ageing and Family Change: Older people's views on current changes of family arrangements in rural Nepal, The Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • Oct 2018 “Maybe this Generation doesn’t like the Elderly”: How outmigration affects the situation of Older People in Mountain Villages of West Nepal. “Ageing Across Boarders” workshop, Max Planck Institute or the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen.
  • April 2018 “No country for the Old? Understanding Access to Social Security for the Elderly in rural Nepal”, Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, New Orleans.
  • June 2017 “Someday I will die here”, International Emotional Geographies Conference. California State University, Long Beach.
  • March 2017 “Over the Hills and far away: Viewpints from Elderly on Implications of Outmigration in the mid Hills of West Nepal”, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Workshop. University of Oxford.
  • October 2016 “Viewpoints from Elderly on Social Change in Western Nepal” Annual Conference on South Asia. Center for South Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • June 2016  “Life in Old Age. Challenges and Changing Conditions in Rural Nepal”, South Asian Studies Workshop. EASAS and CEI ISCTE Institute, University of Lisbon.
  • December 2015 Human Geography Research seminar. University of Zurich.
  • May 2013 VSV “Fürs tägliche Leben reicht es aus” (presentation of Master’s thesis), Annual Meeting. Swiss-Vietnam Friendship Association, Zurich.
  • February 2013 “Socio-economic Impacts of Microcredits on Older People in the Surroundings of Huế, Vietnam” (presentation of Master’s thesis), SGAG Annual Meeting & Price Ceremony. Swiss Association of Applied Geography.
  • May 2012 Human Geography Research Seminar. University of Zurich.



HS 2019 & FS 2020, 2021
 GEO 511 Master Thesis
HS 2020
 GEO 361 Vertiefung Humangeographie
HS 2019
 GEO 112 Humangeographie I (Introduction to Human Geography)
HS 2019, 2020
 GEO 110 Schweiz 2040
FS 2016 & 2017 & 2019 & 2020
 GEO 242 Humangeographie IV (Methods in Human Geography)
HS 2018  International Graduate School North-South IGS Summer School in Pokhara (Nepal) 2018 (Development and Societal Change and Qualitative methods for field research, with Prof. U. Müller-Böker and IGS North-South, Berne)
FS 2017 & 2018  GEO 399 Geneva Excursion
FS 2016 & 2017
 GEO 386 Bachelor Thesis
HS 2015  GEO 511 Human Geography Research Colloquium
FS 2011  GEO 246 Statistics in Geography
FS 2010  GG 440 Fachwissenschaftliche Ausbildung für SekundarlehrerInnen
HS 2008 & 2009 & 2010 GEO 246 Statistics in Geography

(teaching at University of Berne, see on personal website)

Supervised Master/Bachelor Theses

  • Schmid, Jana (2021): Homestay Tourism as a Form of Women's Empowerment in Rural Nepal: Implications, Challenges and Opportunities, main/co-supervision with Prof. em. U. Müller-Böker and Prof. N. Backhaus (MSc Thesis)
  • Vinotharajah Vibiga (2020): Klimawandel und Migration: Betrachtung am Fallbeispiel Bangladesch (BSc Thesis)
  • Schudel Lorina (2017): Der lange Weg zur Gesundheit: Herausforderungen und Lösungsansätze in Bezug auf den Gesundheitszugang von Mütter in abgelegenen Bergregionen in Bolivien und Nepal (BSc Thesis)
  • Lienhard Charlotte (2016): Die alternde Gesellschaft in Entwicklungsländern: Heutige Herausforderungen und Chancen
    (BSc Thesis)

Further publications