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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis-India initiative

Published: January 20, 2012
Section: Features

President Fred Lawrence and members of the Brandeis academic community will travel to India next month as part of an initiative to increase Brandeis’ global presence by expanding its academic relationships with worldwide universities and institutions. The trip includes visits to both New Delhi and Mumbai with public forums and meetings at various institutions, including the Indian Institute of Science and the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore. A two-day trip to Singapore is also on the itinerary.

“Social justice and sustainable development are both areas in which Brandeis has achieved international recognition. Many outstanding activists in these fields—not a few of whom are our alumni—are in India, aspiring to make our world a better, healthier place,” Lawrence said in a university press release. He hopes to expand Brandeis’ general presence in the international scientific community. “Brandeis is renowned for our science research and teaching, and India has some of the world’s finest scientific institutions,” Lawrence said.

Several members of the Brandeis community, including Harleen Singh, the Helaine and Alvin Allen Assistant Professor of Literature, and Preeta Banerjee, an assistant professor of strategy at IBS and winner of Fullbright-Nehru Fellowship, are already working on their own projects in India. Both Singh and Banerjee will be cooperating with President Lawrence during his dialogue, “Seeking Social Justice: A Brandeis University and Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research Conversation.” The event will be coordinated by Lawrence and PUKAR’s board president, Arjun Appadurai, a well-known scholar on the anthropology of globalization and the modern world.

Brandeis has strengthened its connection with India through the Brandeis-India Initiative and its establishment of a multi-faceted network of alumni, faculty, students and others affiliated with Brandeis. Alumni activity has also been increasing in India as a growing percentage of Brandeis students are from India. The initiative is part of Brandeis’ current global strategy to find unforeseen academic opportunities in hopes of expanding our intellectual horizons. Former Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz visited India in 2010.

The university hopes that the relationship will be mutually beneficial. “I have made multiple trips to India in recent years, and each time I have been impressed with the vast potential that exists for collaboration between the world’s two largest democracies and between the educational and social institutions that help shape their values and cultures,” Lawrence said. As Ddean of The George Washington University Law School, Lawrence made several trips to India.

Lawrence’s itinerary includes meetings with prospective students, alumni and academic leaders. Students have the opportunity to become involved with the Brandeis-India Initiative through the Fellows Program, in which they can apply for grants to pursue Indian-oriented projects. Some of the recent projects included interning with an India-based NGO, researching public health, and studying Indian art and literature.