Programs Sponsored by the South Asia Center:

Engineering India: Grand Challenge Impact Lab (GCIL)

APPLY NOW! (Deadline: May 15, 2017)

Grand Challenges (GCs) are the big problems facing humanity — things like food security, clean energy, and poverty. The Grand Challenge Impact Lab (UW-GCIL) is a new UW study abroad experience that empowers students to address GCs.

GCIL teaches students about GCs and invites them to propose and test solutions. Students will spend time learning about GCs from residents and experts in Bangalore. Once they understand the GCs, students will work in groups to develop and test solutions. Students will learn how to develop solutions via a “design thinking mindset” and how to create lean start-ups. This program offers a hands¬on active learning laboratory in Bangalore, India.

Bangalore, India is an excellent location for studying GCs: there are many social and environmental problems and many organizations working on solutions. Bangalore is also a globally connected city with amenities, a pleasant climate, and a good infrastructure of roads, hospitals, and airports. Dr. Marshall previously taught many classes there when he was a professor at University of Minnesota, and he has a strong professional network in Bangalore.

For more information, click here.

India: Yoga, Politics, Culture and the Environment in India’s Himalaya


Application Deadline is past.

Read about current study abroad experiences from Uttarkhand here!

The 2017 Autumn Quarter UW India Himalaya Study Abroad Program provides an exploration of the society, culture, politics and economics of a rural mountainous location in India’s Uttarakhand state. This area is in the midst of dramatic social, environmental and economic change as a largely subsistence economy is impacted by a privatized, commercial economy driven by regional, national and international forces.

The academic emphasis of this program is structured by two courses exploring different aspects of this environment. The political economy course will focus on political and economic transformation, and raise questions of democracy, equity, diversity, gender and socio-economic disparities in Uttarakhand and in India more broadly. Our engagement with these issues will include visits to relevant locations and interactions with activists, politicians, local figures, educators, and government representatives who are part of the vibrant local community, as well as part of the outside community we will meet during travel and excursions.

The second course will center on the rapidly changing society and culture, as wider belief systems impacted by politics complicate local practices. Students will study the past and present of the region’s cultural, social, and religious life through visits to religious sites, interactions with religious figures, and engaging with texts and ethnographies. A key experiential aspect of this course is daily yoga instruction along with lectures on the philosophical aspects of yoga, taught in the very home of ancient yoga itself, set amid the glorious Himalayan mountains.

Students can then draw on this academic framework to embark on “learning service” in structured volunteer activities with organizations in the region. The intersection of the local with on-going changes is mediated by NGOs and private undertakings, an examination of which will provide an in-depth look at changing gender relations, evolution of expectations, environmental impact and impact on cultural practices.

Among the organizations we volunteer with are: Aarohi, a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on integrated rural development with emphasis on healthcare, education, livelihoods and preservation of traditional culture; the Gene Campaign, a research and advocacy organization focused on food security, traditional seed preservation and livelihoods; and the Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (CHIRAG), which is the oldest organization working with communities in the Kumaun region on integrated rural development, including education, forestry, soil and water conservation, agriculture, animal husbandry, preventive and promotive health, and livelihoods and micro-enterprise support. Volunteering and “learning service” extend to our regional excursions to Lakshmi Ashram, a girl’s residential school in the Gandhian tradition, village Jageshwar, a religious pilgrimage site and village Munsiyari where the high Himalayan peaks rise skyward!

Students are housed and based at Himalayan Village Sonapani, a sylvan retreat at village Satoli. After the first two weeks, students join area families for home stays where they will be immersed in the daily routines, work, culture, and rituals of the host community. Weekends at Sonapani have the students engaging with eminent visiting scholars, specialists in the Himalayan region, accomplished yoga practitioners, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and dancers.

Students who participate in this program come from diverse backgrounds and a range of majors from business to public health to anthropology. Opportunities abound for students to direct their studies and experiential learning choices to enrich their learning in the direction of their specific interests. Not-for-credit Hindi language study is readily available and provides excellent groundwork for interactions in homestays, with the Sonapani staff, and with other Hindi speakers that students will encounter.

Learn more and apply for admission here.

Other UW Programs:

Nepal: Design and Development in Nepal (Kathmandu, Kavre district)

Early Fall, 2017

The Design and Development in Nepal exploration seminar is a unique, 28-day program offered jointly by the Nepal Studies Initiative and the Informal Urban Communities Initiative. The seminar challenges students to delve into the ideas and contemporary debates surrounding development, and respond to them through community-based participatory design. Students in the seminar will explore historical and contemporary conditions as key drivers of change in the country and engage in a small scale design intervention in an underserved urban neighborhood in the Kathmandu Valley.


Past Programs:

Global Consulting Project -Mumbai, (Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Agra, Delhi)

December, 2016

A select group of MBA students will travel to India in December to apply their ingenuity and advanced skills to complex strategy projects. These are real projects that will challenge MBAs to find creative solutions and build practical global experience that cannot be found in any textbook. In the process, they will help rural people build the kind of businesses that can lift their families and villages out of poverty. This is a real opportunity to make a major difference in people’s lives…and to get a first-hand look at social entrepreneurship and how it works.

The group will meet on three evenings and two Saturdays during Autumn Quarter. Teams will work with the client on the ground in India for nine days in December as part of a 14-night trip, then develop solutions in a required four-credit IBUS 579 class Winter Quarter. Recommendations will be presented via teleconference in February 2017, with the client providing feedback. More…

Chandigarh International Collaborative Design Studio (Chandigarh, India)
Winter 2014

This Winter Quarter Studio program offers students the unique opportunity to study in Chandigarh India, one of the most renowned modern cities of the world, designed by Le Corbusier in the 1950’s. Students will have an opportunity to use Chandigarh College of Architecture as a base while also being introduced to local professional and academic resources in Chandigarh. Courses include design studio, History of Indian Architecture, and a seminar studying the architecture and urban design of Chandigarh and its environs. 15 credits. Contact: Vikram Prakash.

Nursing India: Health Issues in a Developing Nation (Chennai and Vellore, India)
Early Autumn 2013

This study abroad course being offered in Early Fall 2012 is designed to provide students with an experiential learning opportunity in a developing and resource-poor country (India). Health challenges and the health care system in India, as well as the policies and interventions aimed to reduce inequalities in health, will be explored. This course is expected to provide a rich global experience for students as well as an opportunity to observe health professionals and agencies in a developing nation.

Honors/CHID/English India: Social Justice & NGO Activism (Bangalore, India)
Summer 2013

Everyone talks about becoming a “global citizen,” but what does this really mean? How do events unfolding across the world–and India in particular– intersect with our lives here in the Pacific Northwest? How do outsourcing and globalization play out in actual people’s lives and livelihoods? Is there such a thing as transnational solidarity and an international movement for social justice? If so, what might that look like?

To help answer some of these questions, we will learn about and explore the current scene of social justice activism in Bangalore through partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGO) throughout the city. We will be introduced to issues of urban dislocation, gender and sexuality issues, traffic and transportation, waste disposal, children’s rights, rural women, and development. Our program in Bangalore will help us learn about the city and its people, and encourage analysis that takes into account history, language politics, gender relations, caste divisions, poverty and affluence. We hope to cultivate an appreciation of the incredible challenges that organizations and activists face in Bangalore, as well as the joys and gifts of doing this work.

Environment and Development in the Indian Himalayas
Summer 2012

The 2012 Summer Quarter UW India Himalaya – Development, Environment & Sustainability Study Abroad Program is a nine week opportunity for UW students to study and live in the Kumaun Himalaya in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The academic focus of the program examines the political economy of development in India and considers the dynamics of formal and informal labor, environmental change and integrated rural development.

Half the Sky – Social Entrepreneurship and Making a Difference (Bangalore, India)
Summer 2012

This program immerses students in India’s vibrant culture and issues of its emerging economic power with particular emphasis on social entrepreneurship and the astonishing situation of women in business. In some industries like banking, women are assuming leadership positions at a rate far faster than in the U.S., creating inspiring new models for leadership and team building. At the other end of the economic spectrum, illiterate and semi-literate women are forming collectives, taking out small loans, and building networks of micro-enterprises to find prosperity. In the process, they are transforming the way global government and development groups think about fighting poverty. WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT THIS PROGRAM!


UW Affiliated Programs:
CIEE Art and Sciences Program (Hyderabad, India)
SIT Study Abroad India: Himalayan Buddhist Art and Architecture (New Delhi, India)
SIT Study Abroad Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples (Kathmandu, Nepal)
SIT Study Abroad Nepal: Development and Social Change (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Programs at Other Institutions:
American Institute of Indian Studies
Emory University and Drepung Loseling Monastery
University of Wisconsin