Global Information Engagement scholars prepare for India projects


Nineteen U-M students will travel to locations in India in May to work with farmers, community leaders, lawyers, nonprofits and other civic-minded organizations to tackle information challenges and implement solutions designed to have high social-impact value and wide-ranging applications.

For School of Information students Elyse Guilfoyle and Kevin Smith, and Caitie Goddard from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, that means creating India’s first accessible website for the disabled community. It will offer policy resources, a categorized services guide, and a forum that will allow people to interact with disability experts.

These students are working with the National Institute for Speech and Hearing in Kerala to address a lack of accessible information on disability law and policy in India. The team has used United States disability policies as a framework to develop a website shell that will be completed while working with the NISH in the coming months.

The project is one of six developed by student teams participating in UMSI’s Global Information Engagement Program, an innovative approach to learning that partners nonprofit, research, and educational organizations to use information and technology skills to deal with a contemporary social concern.

Prior to leaving for India, the student groups presented their projects during the school’s GIEP Exposition on Monday. They spoke about the problems they hope to solve, what their proposed solutions will be, and how they have approached the issue thus far.

Attending the exposition were James Holloway, vice provost for global and engaged education, and Lawrence Liang, a prominent human rights proponent in India who works with a GIEP partner organization, the Alternative Law Forum.

GIEP teams spent the past semester studying a specific information problem and creating a framework to address it. The students will implement and further develop their plans while spending six to 12 weeks working with partner organizations in India. 

Other projects featured at the GIEP exposition were:

Data Driven Healthcare, a project that will deliver data-driven performance metrics and tools designed to improve quality of care in hospitals. Health informatics students Chris Liu and Asif Sheikh, and Master in Public Health student Jessica Roch will partner with Be Well Hospitals in Chennai, Quantiphi in Mumbai, and Aspada Investments in Bangalore on this project.

The Hampi Arts Initiative, which will survey, document and archive arts and crafts of the Hampi region, with the goal of educating the community about Hampi’s rich cultural heritage. UMSI students Michelle Fiesta and Aysha Siddique, and Master of Architecture candidate Mark Langrehr are collaborating with Jaaga Trust, a community of entrepreneurs, activists, designers, and artists in Bangalore.

• Harvesting Knowledge, a project aiding Digital Green, a New Delhi nonprofit that seeks to improve livelihoods, health, and nutrition in rural communities by training local farmers to facilitate discussions on new farming practices in their villages. UMSI students Krishna Vadrevu, Jasmine Hentschele and Edgar Nunez have developed a prototype to help Digital Green increase its training efforts, and will work with the organization’s tech team to integrate the application into the nonprofit’s web services.

• The Human Rights Law Support Network, a project that will partner the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore with UMSI students Sloka Krishnan, Joyce Sakata, and Maura Youngman. The team is seeking to create a platform the will allow human rights lawyers across the country to support one another and share resources, and create a system for people who need legal services to connect with these lawyers.

Visualizing India’s Cities, which will examine large data sets (such as Indian census data), extract subsets of that data relevant to Indian cities, and maintain them into a repository. UMSI students Michael Wayne Harris and Marlon Phillips, and Master of Urban Planning student Christopher Herlich are working with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in Bangalore on this project.


Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.