Students interested in Indian culture have the opportunity to study abroad in India with the School for International Training (SIT) on its Sustainable Development and Social Change program. This program examines India’s socioeconomic development trends and how rethinking development is gaining urgency for shaping sustainable social change. India is the world’s largest democracy with a rapidly growing economy, vibrant IT industry and service sector, and burgeoning middle class, and it is poised to become an influential world power. Despite its impressive economic growth, social hierarchy, inequity, and poverty remain enormous challenges for this country of more than one billion people. Students examine the diverse factors, internal and global, shaping India’s development strategies and patterns and gain foundational knowledge of India’s past, present, and future development paradigms, economic growth, and development alternatives.
- Based in Jaipur
- Spring or Fall semester
- Pre-requisites: 3.0 GPA; one course with significant South Asia content highly recommended OR another course that directly addresses topics relevant for study in India (see this listing for some potential course options)
- Enroll in a Hindi language course
- Live with homestay families
Students live and study in Jaipur. Jaipur presents itself as a wealthy and regal city containing clean, stately, tree-lined streets; traditional and contemporary architecture; heritage palaces and forts; five-star hotels; and a thriving tourism industry. However, the largely rural and agricultural state of Rajasthan is among the underdeveloped regions in India, and Jaipur, the state's capital city, reflects this reality. Rural and urban youth throughout the region struggle with problems ranging from life-threatening droughts to gaining admission to prestigious universities. In Jaipur, students enjoy access to academics, professional associations, and grassroots organizers seeking innovative ways to address issues of poverty, social justice, and sustainable development through state-led social security provisions and livelihood development.
Students are required to enroll in 5 courses :
Sustainable Futures: India and Beyond,
Development Approaches and Distributive Justice,
Field Methods and Ethics
Either the Independent Study Project or Internship and Seminar.
Students decide between an internship or an independent study project for the last four weeks of their program. Independent Study Projects (ISP) are conducted in Rajasthan or in another approved location in India. The ISP provides the students with an opportunity to pursue original research on a situation or topic of particular interest to the students. Students have conducted ISPs in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, New Delhi, West Bengal, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. NGOs often play a critical role in facilitating ISPs.
Students can choose to do an internship rather than an ISP. SIT internships are hands-on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, students submit a paper processing their learning experience on the job and analyzing an issue important to the organization the student worked with, and/or will design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.
The spring semester typically begins in mid-February and ends at late May. The fall semester typically begins in late August and ends in mid-December.
The program includes visits to a variety of NGO headquarters, prominent academic and research institutes, and villages. Visits to locations in Rajasthan expose students to the realities of rural life in India and socioeconomic development in arid and semi-arid regions on the state.
In a typical semester, excursions may include visits to NGOs and institutions such as:
- Bodh Shiksha Samiti, an organization working for quality education for underprivileged children through community residential schools and serving more than 26,000 children (urban and rural) in Rajasthan
- Jaipur Foot Factory, the world’s largest producer of prosthetic below-the-waist limbs, provided free to those in need, irrespective of caste, religion, origin, or ethnicity. This excursion introduces students you to one of the most successful models of a rehabilitation center and provides an opportunity to learn about social change and the empowerment of people with physical disabilities.
- International College for Girls, University of Rajasthan, a private institution providing higher education for women in the Jaipur district. You may meet ICG students your own age.
- Gram Vikas Navyuvak Mandal Laporiya (Rajasthan), an organization run by Asoka fellow, social activist, and development practitioner Laxman Singh that works on many development and conservation initiatives, including biodiversity conservation
Students live with homestay families in Jaipur for approximately six weeks. The homestay experience provides an opportunity to share and learn about customs, food, languages, and social and religious lives via daily activities at home and with members of the extended family. The experience provides a sense of social change and continuity in India’s family structure and traditions. Homestay families have a longstanding relationship with SIT and are eager to welcome students into their homes. Most are upper middle class, with varied religious backgrounds and worldviews. Some family members are homemakers, and others are professionals—teachers, engineers, business owners, government officials, doctors, and artists. Typically, students have a separate room with an attached bathroom that might also be occasionally shared by visiting relatives. Students are matched with families based on their background and health issues as well as shared interests. Most homestays are one to ten kilometers from the program center. Home are within a short walk of three or four other SIT students, allowing them to share auto rickshaws to the learning center. Students usually use the same auto rickshaw for traveling Jaipur in their free time, maximizing safety and convenience. The program collects information such as name, phone number, and vehicle registration number from the regularly and occasionally used rickshaw drivers.
Other accommodation during the program includes hostels, small hotels, NGO facilities, and educational institutions.
See the SIT website for program dates. The spring semester typically begins in early February and ends at early May. The fall semester typically begins in early September and ends in mid-December.
Pre-departure: The CIIS office organizes in-depth orientation sessions on-campus prior to the student's participation in the program. This includes a program-specific session(s) in which the students will learn more about the program, local culture, academic expectations, and any other important information. There is also an orientation session led by the CIIS office on culture shock, pre-departure preparations, as well as safety and security while abroad.
On-site: Upon arrival in Jaipur, students have local orientation led by SIT staff and learn about cultural norms, practical advice, and navigating the city.
If you are interested in learning more about the India program, please contact one of the following people:
CIIS Office: Dr. Helen Huang, Director of Asia Programs - Questions about eligibility, program logistics, and other off-campus opportunities.
Faculty Coordinator: Dr. Arun Brahmbhatt- Questions about program academics