US students to experience, understand India more deeply under new program

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Washington, Oct 18 (ANI): Students at Kansas State University are looking forward to a deeper understanding of India and experiencing its culture, say two leaders who are working to give students more opportunities to learn about and experience South Asia.

Barry Michie, director of international program support at K-State and Bradley Shaw, co-principal investigator, have said that the fascination for India has gone through a change in recent times.

"For instance, in the 1960s and '70s, most people's idea of India centered on sacred cows, Ravi Shankar, spirituality and bullock carts. But I think we've gone way beyond that point with students' perceptions of South Asia today as a region of growing economic and political importance to the U.S. and their own lives," said Michie.

The university has received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance K-State offerings in South Asian studies.

The Title VI grant under the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program will help K-State develop a proposed interdisciplinary secondary major in South Asian studies and will expand faculty and student opportunities in South Asia across all colleges.

A four-semester sequence of Hindi language classes is included in the project.

Michie said they hope to have the secondary major approved by the university and the Kansas Board of Regents by the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.

The researchers have said that it is more than just India's growing importance in world politics and economics that makes South Asian studies a priority at K-State.

"Students today see it in their own self interest to know more about the world and to add some kind of international dimension to their study, whether it's generalized international study or a more specific region of the world. They see possible professional opportunities for themselves -- whether they choose engineering, a humanities discipline, journalism or any another field -- and they want to have a competitive edge," said Shaw.

The planned secondary major would not only add Hindi language classes, but it is also designed to create 14 new or revised courses with a focus on South Asia and adds experiential programs in India like study abroad programs, joint projects, internships and volunteer opportunities for undergraduate students.

K-State faculty across all disciplines will have opportunities to revise their courses, travel in India and create relationships for study or research.

"These faculty opportunities fan out to have the effect of reaching many undergraduate students," said Shaw.

"We hope to tap into a heritage market of students whose parents are from India but who themselves have been born and raised in the United States," said Michie. (ANI)

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