India Initiative awards offer exciting opportunities for students


Norma Sarkar has been traveling to India for many years. During her visits, she noticed strong community health programs that involve health workers in rural areas, home visits and elderly care.

“I always thought our students can learn a lot by interacting with these health workers,” said Sarkar, a clinical instructor who has been teaching community health for a decade at the School of Nursing.

Now the students will, thanks to an India Initiative award from the Office of the President. The School of Nursing will take 12-15 students to India for three weeks in 2015 and 2016.

“World is getting smaller and smaller, it’s good to learn more about each other,” Sarkar added.

“I am excited to see the student learning opportunities that will come out of these initiatives,” said President Mary Sue Coleman.

Projects at a glance

• Cardamom Project (Art & Design) — Plans to build a strong India platform for the Stamps School in Mumbai and Bangalore.

• Alumni sponsored summer internship program (LSA and College of Engineering) — Connecting with alumni to host student internships.

• Community health field experience (School of Nursing) — Provide a three-week field experience for students.

• C.K. Prahalad Initiative (Ross School) — Expand the Ross Multidisciplinary Action Project model to more sites in India.

• Center for South Asian Studies Project (LSA) — Fund staff support to help continue the student programs with Delhi University and Ashoka.

• MLaw Externships in India (Law School) — Pilot Externships with the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore.

Coleman had issued a call for proposals in January to launch new programs and build on ideas generated during her recent trip to India.

“There was great enthusiasm and we received 21 proposals,” said James Holloway, vice provost for global and engaged education.

Out of 21 proposals, six have been selected for awards amounting to $487,000. They include the Stamps School of Art and Design, Law School, Stephen M. Ross School of Business’ MAP projects, and the Center for South Asian Studies.

The hope is that these awards will inspire innovative programs that enhance the student learning experiences and develop ties with India to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Another program selected for the funding builds on the alumni connections in India to provide internship opportunities for students. This effort branches out across several units like LSA and the College of Engineering.

Rachael Criso from Dean’s Office at LSA has been working with Indian alumni to host U-M students. She has already secured internship opportunities for three students travelling to Delhi and Mumbai to work in a startup and a private leadership program this summer.

“With the grant, we will be adding more cities, more alumni and more internships in India,” Criso said.

The award will also help them to pay a small stipend to the students.

“Our alumni in India have been amazingly supportive and they greatly value helping our students journey to India to understand the India that they love,” Holloway added.


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