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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
  • Language, Culture and History of Maharashtra
  • Elective course — Choice of Public Health, Gender & Culture, or Indian Media
  • 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

The course seeks to introduce the students to contemporary India – its culture and society, the current politics, political economy, and foreign relations. It deals mainly with the current happenings in India with a little history as a point of reference.  It is desirable that the students participate actively in the classroom discussions. In a sense this is an area studies course that is introductory in nature. But the course seeks to go beyond being a descriptive one – it seeks to provide the student some analytical tools to understand contemporary Indian scene. It seeks to equip the student with the basics that would help the student to take off for further study in an area of his/her choice or specialization.  This course along with a working knowledge of local language should enable the student to make sense of the developments in the country that the student may see or read in the media.

Language, Culture and History of Maharashtra

Instructor: Sucheta Paranjpe, Ashutosh Potdar and Shraddha Kumbojkar

Required course, 6 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

Indian culture is an amalgamation of several cultures that represent its various regions and states. In order to understand what makes today’s India one must try and learn more about the culture of the different states. This program is offered in Maharashtra, so it is both an opportunity and necessity to learn the language of the state, its culture and history. 

Since language is essential for communication with local people, and immersion in the local milieu, first module of the course Language of Maharashtra- Marathi is taught more in detail than the other two modules. This module focuses on acquiring essential Marathi vocabulary, conversation skills, and some basic reading and writing ability. Once the students are acquainted with the language they will be able to understand cultural and historical nuances better and faster. 

The second module Culture of Maharashtra provides social and economic background that has shaped Maharashtra over the centuries. Students will be introduced to various aspects of consumption and dissemination of cultural practices, through literature, theatre, music and folk-art etc. Students will critically analyse evolving nature of culture through the study of festivals, cultural spaces and organization.

The third module History of Maharashtra focuses on making of modern Maharshtra, highlighting major historical milestones from the colonial times to present times. The classroom discussions will be supplemented with visits to historical place in and around the city to give the students a better understanding of the module.

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

Independent Study Project

Instructor: Ujjwala Barve and Marlo Belschner

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. Ujjwala Barve 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.

Indian Media and Society

Instructor: Ujjwala Barve

Elective course (Fall 2016), 4 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

Media and society are largely interdependent, and one shapes the other in many ways. Therefore an analytical study of the media in any country helps understand the social, political and cultural fiber of that country. The same is true of India. Its media is all pervasive, powerful and enjoys the freedom guaranteed in a democracy. Many a social phenomena that one may not encounter in person can be understood through the media content, in both fiction and non-fiction genres. Films, advertisements and TV programming is a window to social and cultural practices, whereas the news content provides political commentary about domestic and international issues. This course facilitates and also requires extensive and planned media consumption throughout the semester.

Public Health in India

Instructor: Prakash Doke

Elective course (Fall 2016), 4 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

The course seeks to introduce the students to the concept of public health, and help them understand the issues and challenges in health services in India at present. The course gives an overview of the legislations related to health services, government agencies involved in them, alternate medicine systems, epidemiological and demographic transitions etc. 

Exploring India: Gender, Culture, and Globalization

Instructor: Medha Kotwal Lele

Elective course (Fall 2016), 4 semester credits

Click here to see a course syllabus

This course seeks to introduce students to the diverse Indian culture and society through a gendered lens. It will explore gender relations that are rooted in tradition and culture and the intersectionality of gender with religion and caste so specific to India.  Though these are rooted in tradition a slow process of change is taking place by the opening up of the Indian society. In other words, globalization has stirred up not only the Indian economy but also the cultural practices and traditions. In short, the paper seeks to explore the connections between gender, changing cultural norms and globalization.

India: Culture, Traditions, & Globalization

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Michael Gerlicher ACM Pune changed the trajectory of my life and career in 1978. I was privileged to live with a first-time host family in the Phule Market area of old Pune. We have remained lifelong friends. Each year I travel at least once to Mumbai and Pune, to give back through teaching finance topics in some of Pune's many universities.

—Michael Gerlicher, India, Fall 1978

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