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India: Culture, Traditions, & Globalization

Pune, India


Students participate in the following courses—see below for more detailed course descriptions:

  • Contemporary India
  • Marathi Language
  • Elective course (choice of Public Health, Gender & Culture, or the Environment)
  • Independent Study Project

All courses are taught at the ACM office in Pune.

Contemporary India

Instructor: Shrikant Paranjpe

Required course, 4 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

This core course introduces students to contemporary India and provides an introduction to Indian history, current politics, and foreign relations, and modern-day Indian culture and society.  The class consists of structured classroom lectures and discussion, supported by an assortment of reading material.  Guest lectures on topics such as Art, Architecture, Music, Yoga, and Performing Arts give students an introduction to a broad cross-section of Indian culture and society.  In addition, students spend time outside of the classroom learning experientially, through a variety of field trips that complement the learning taking place in the classroom.

Marathi Language

Instructor: Sucheta Paranjpe & Kalyani Jha

Required course, 6 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

ACM students visiting a local vegetable market as part of their language class

Marathi is the primary language spoken in the city of Pune, and the state of Maharashtra.  With twenty-two officially recognized languages throughout India, in additions to hundreds of local languages and dialects, it is imperative that students gain an understanding of the language native to the city in which they will be living.  This intensive class in Marathi language gives students a broad overview of the language, with a particular emphasis on spoken communication, to facilitate communication with host families and people within the community.  Field trips to locations such as a local vegetable market, along with guest speakers who speak only Marathi, add an experiential component to the classroom learning.  The Marathi course will begin during the three-week orientation, meeting two hours each day, and continue throughout the twelve-week semester, when it will meet for ninety minutes each day.

Independent Study Project

Required course, 4 semester credits

Throughout the semester, students devote substantial thought and effort to completing an independent study project.  Students have the opportunity to conduct research in their chosen field, both academically and experientially.  Research may be conducted in most fields in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  Highly qualified Indian advisors - faculty members from academic institutions in Pune as well as local professionals and artists - guide students in their research.  Guest lecturers on the subject of research methodology further enhance student preparation for their project.  Every Friday students will meet with Dr. Sucheta Paranjpe to report on their weekly progress and discuss any issues that may arise.  At the end of the program, students present their independent study projects.

The following elective courses, of which students select one, meet throughout the semester:

Public Health in India

Instructor: Hemant Apte

Elective course (Fall 2014), 4 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

Climate change has become visible all across the globe. In times of climate change, health is also being seriously affected in various ways. This course is meant to provide an understanding of the public health situation in India in the changing physical and socio-cultural environment.  Through the various modules of the course, the students will learn about the origin, evolution, and current status of public health in India. Due to the variety of medical systems in India, the course will examine different systems of medicine and their integration into the mainstream health care delivery system in the country.  There are several policies and programs related to health that are formulated and implemented by the government.  Students will learn about them and will be in a position to gain an understanding about the problems of implementation and its impact on the health of the citizens.

Some diseases are resurfacing in India and new health issues are coming to the forefront.  This course will cover these issues through discussions with experts in the field.  It will also make students examine the health situation in their own culture, making comparisons to what’s happening in India.  Through discussions and interactions with people from different classes, the students will get firsthand information on levels of knowledge, attitudes, and health behavior of the people.  The course will also give students background on the social determinants of health that influence people’s health-related behavior.  With a background of the omnipresent change in physical and socio-cultural environments, the course is expected to give the students an in-depth understanding of the current situation and importance of public health in India.

Exploring India: Gender, Culture, and Globalization

Instructor: Medha Kotwal

Elective course (Fall 2014), 4 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

This course seeks to explore India, its traditions, and culture through a gendered lens.  Using this lens will help students to understand, reflect, and think of multiple ways in which gender relations in India are firmly located and constructed through the axis of tradition and culture.  It will also help them to understand how, within contemporary India, the processes of globalization are structured within specific traditions and cultural patterns.

The objectives of the course are to introduce the basic concepts of gender and gender inequality, the linkages of gender constructs with culture and traditions, and how processes of globalization are culturally specific.  The course will integrate lectures with group discussions and individual presentations.  Students should be prepared to be reflective and participate in class discussions.  Students are expected to engage with the reading materials, bring their reflections, and move the discussions forward in a critical manner.

Indian Environment: Globalization and Development

Instructor: Arundhati Vishwasrao

Elective course (Fall 2014), 4 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

This course offers an overview of the Indian environment and familiarizes students with the contemporary challenges before India.  Learners will be able to understand the relation between society, economy, and environment, as well as the influence and impact of each on the other.  Various dimensions of the crucial challenges before Indian society regarding environmental conservation will be discussed.  Topics of discussion during the course will include: Indian geography, environmental pollution and its impact on natural resources, globalization and its impact, common environmental problems in contemporary India, and environmental management.

A local newspaper article about ACM India students getting involved in an environmental project in Pune.


India: Culture, Traditions, & Globalization

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Keith Kozloff It is no exaggeration for me to say that my participation in the 1971 ACM India program had a profound effect on both my career and personal life. During my stay in Pune, I studied everyday life in a nearby village to better understand how the intersection of ecology, economics, and culture played out in how village families managed a key resource, namely their cows. As a result of this experience, I became interested in working in interdisciplinary settings and in international development. Now, 40 years later, I am still working internationally at the intersection of environment and economics at the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Moreover, my ACM experience instilled in me a lifelong attraction to Indian culture, especially its food and music.

—Keith Kozloff, India, 1971

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