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Independent Study Project

Spend an entire semester exploring a topic in India that’s most interesting to you. Every student on the India program designs and conducts an independent study project (ISP).

Create an experiential art project, do ethnographic work with local Indian populations, examine environmental and public health challenges, or study religion and philosophy. It’s your choice! 

Peter Raffel, an ACM India alum, wrote a novel for his independent study project.

Read more 

At the beginning of the term, a faculty member from one of the ACM colleges will help you formulate a research topic and design your project. After you’ve selected a topic, take advantage of the rare opportunity to pick the brain of an expert in your field! Local research guides, whose areas of expertise range from reproductive health to emotional intelligence, will partner with you to develop your project throughout the semester. ACM staff can also connect you with local resources at universities, businesses, social organizations, and artist groups in Pune.

Past students have focused on a range of topics, including Hindu marriage, music education, youth in Indian politics, sustainable agriculture, and social media communication among Indian women. 

The time, energy, and research you put into your ISP project will benefit you well beyond your program term. Many students incorporate their ISPs into a senior thesis project once they’re back on campus. 

“Perhaps the greatest part of India was the practicum I had as part of my independent study. My independent study was on the waste management system of Pune, and as part of this I interned at SWaCH, a cooperative of waste pickers. I had the opportunity to shadow three different waste pickers, talk with countless people about the issues, and understand the problems from the inside out.”

—Sarah Diamond, Lawrence University, government major

Previous Project Topics

Anthropology & Sociology

Art, Music, Literature, & Dance

  • Lehrshtuke: A Study of GRIPS Theatre in Pune (2016)
  • Shenhai Performance: A Beginner's Perspective on Materials, Technique and Tradition (2016)
  • New Millennium, New Canon: Making Room for the Queer Voice in the Indian Literary Canon (2014)
  • Tales from the Mutha: A Collection of Fictional Short Stories (2014)
  • An Introduction to Tabla and North Indian Classical Rhythm (2014)
  • The Art of Letting GO (2013)
  • The Bhagavad Gita in Modern Day Pune (2013)
  • Love of My Life: A Short Story (2013)
  • Women of the Forest: Calling Chipko By Its Rightful Name (2013)
  • Indian Classical Music and Instrumentation: Bansuri technique, performance and history (2011)
  • Performance Studies in North Indian Classical Violin  (2010)
  • Environmental Ethics as Represented in Folk Music and Dance (2010)
  • Three Short Stories  (2010)
  • The Rainy Season (2008)
  • Religion and Dance (2008)
  • The Poem We Wear: An analysis of the Body And the Poetic Process of Mardhekar and Rege (2007)
  • Music For All: The Case of Music Education in India (2006)
  • Define Music:  Discovering Hindustani Classical Music as a Western Musician (2006)
  • From the Back of the Bookshelf:  Thoughts on History, Literature and Modern Women Writing in Marathi (2006)
  • Middle Berth:  A Theatrical Examination of Women in India (2006)
  • In Search of Ahmed Jan Thirakwa (2006)
  • Making Art in the Contact Zone: An Exploration of Society and Identity Through Images (2006)
  • This is the Moon: A Collection of Poetry (2006)
  • 23 Bols, Awertan and Dusty Discussions of Inspiration:  Mother India’s Effects on a Composer (2005)
  • Indian Musicians (2004)
  • Painting Pune’s Picture: Observations of the Artistic Community (2004)
  • Indian Metal Craft: A Study of ‘Use’ and ‘Art’ Objects (2004)
  • The Strangest Clouds: A Story and Fragments (2004)
  • When Breath Mixes with Fire: A Sound Diary (2003)


Environmental Studies

  • Household Municipal Solid Waste Management in Pune (2016)
  • Home Gardenining in Pune: An Organic Way of Life (2016)
  • Out From Under the Rug: Waste Picking in Pune, the Power of Organization and a Profile of the SWaCH Cooperative. (2015)
  • Effects of Hinduism on Environmental Attitudes: An Exploration in Modern Hindu Culture in Pune, India (2011)
  • Irrigation Projects in Maharashtra: A Case Study  (2010)
  • Water Distribution and Treatment from the Consumer’s Perspective  (2010)
  • Sustainable Agriculture in Maharashtra  (2010)
  • The Tradition and Modernity in 21st Century India: The Problem of Waste Management (2009)
  • Monsoon Fruit Documentary:  Academic Supplement (2005)
  • Coconut and Mango Trees (2004)
  • A Study of Minerals from the Coast of Maharashtra, India (2003)

Globalization & Development

Government & Politics

  • Examining Voter Attitudes and Turnout Among Students, First-Time Voters in Pune (2016)
  • Food Security for India: A Case Study on Food Subsidies in Pune (2015)
  • Family Differences: Morality Models in Indian Politics (2014)
  • Caste, Class, and the Indian Legal System  (2010)
  • India’s International Relations  (2010)
  • Youth in Indian Politics (2008)
  • Lead India (2007)
  • The Small Steps Taken to Alleviate Poverty: A Look at the Perspective of the Government, Non-government Organizations and the Poor (2006)
  • The Approaches of Non-Governmental Organizations in Pune (2005)
  • Reservation Policy: Moving towards the Private Sector (2004)
  • Current Perspectives on Hindu-Muslim Relations in Pune (2004)
  • Towards Dissolution: Fiscal Transfers and Interstate Disparity in India (2003)

Philosophy & Religion

  • The Pursuit of Happiness in the Global Era: Spirituality and Globalization (2016)
  • How Does the Public Become Krishna Conscious? Recruitment Within the ISKCON Movement? (2015)
  • Treatment of Time in Early Indian Art (2011)
  • The Weight of the Guru: Commercialism and Communal Ties in Two Pune Ashrams In Pune City, India (2011)
  • Hindu Food Culture:Philosophical and religious implications on the diet of Hindus in India (2011)
  • Prabuddha Bharat: Observations of Buddhism (2011)
  • The Muslim Community in Pune  (2010)
  • The Roots of Devotion: A Critical Essay on the Sources of Devotion in the Hindu Faith (2009)
  • The Philosophy of Yoga and its Theraputic Practicality (2009)
  • Masks of the Gods: Expression of Deities's Personalities via Bharat Natyam Dance (2009)
  • Manuscript preservation at BORI (2008)
  • Yoga and Philosophy: Learning Yoga in India (2008)
  • Virtual Spirituality: Digital Devotion in ‘Modern’ India (2007)
  • Ganpati, Remover of Religious Obstacles: Indian Religious Pluralism in a Festival Context (2007)
  • Expression and Practice of Faith:  Study of Ganapati Festival in a Family (2006)
  • The Daudi Bohra in Pune:  Deconstructing the Muslim Stereotype (2006)
  • To See or Not to See: Slices of Contemporary Hinduism in Pune, India (2006)
  • Proving Hindu Culture:  A Case Study of Catholic Identity and Devotion in Pune (2006)
  • Constructing a Secular Identity:  Freedom and Fraternity in Post-Partition National Discourse (2005)
  • Indian Hinduism: A Link to Religious Harmony (2005)
  • Yoga in Pune: Is Modern Practice Valid in the Traditional Sense? (2004)
  • Metaphysics and Theism in Jainism (2004)
  • Guru-Shishya Parampara: Past, Present, and Future (2003)
  • Christian Identity in the Predominately Hindu Culture of India (2003)
  • The Buddhists of Maharashtra: Conversion, Identity and Social Mobility (2003)

Public Health

  • Conceptualizations of Health in Pune: Examining the Interaction between Ayurveda and Allopathy and the Effects of Globalization on their Relationship (2016)
  • Impacts of HIV/AIDS Positivity: A Look at the Dual Stigma Faced by HIV-Postive Women in Sex Work in Pune, India (2015)
  • Importance of Ayurvedic Home Remedies in the Modern World (2015)
  • Mother India: Perceptions of Healthcare Access and Autonomy for Women (2014)
  • False Positives: Local Critiquef International Aid From a Pune NGO (2014)
  • Vaccination Delivery and Resistence in Rural Maharashtra and Inner City Pune: A Study of Religious Identity and Public Health Education (2014)
  • Is Vaccination Misguided: Using the History of Polio to Demonstrate Why Disease Prevention Should be a Tripartate Effort  (2013)
  • Concepts of Contraception: Source of Knowledge of Contraception in Female College Students in Pune, India (2013)
  • Health Problems of Female Sex Workers in Pune's Red Light Area: Looking Beyond HIV (2013)
  • The Higher Order of Life: The Experience of Yoga in Artistic Expression (2011)
  • Looking Beyond “High-Risk” : An Exploration of the Commercial Sex Work Industry in India's HIV/AIDS Discourse (2011)
  • Body and Mind in Yoga Practice and Philosophy  (2010)
  • A Study of Ayurveda Clinics in Pune  (2010)
  • Attitudes toward Maternal Health and Childbirth in India  (2010)
  • Tuberculosis in India and the Revised National TB Control Programme  (2010)
  • Infection Rates of Mosquito-borne Illness in Pune in Relation to Victim’s Socioeconomic Status  (2010)
  • The Effect of Empowering Women on HIV Rates  (2010)
  • Diagnostic Methods of Ayurveda (2008)
  • The Ayurvedic Diet (2007)
  • A Holistic Approach to Happiness:  Ayurveda and Depression (2006)
  • "A World of Their Own”:  A Look at Autism in India (2005)

Women & Gender Studies

  • Gendered Orientalism: Othering Discourses and the Self-Representation of Feminisms in Maharashtra (2016)
  • Fair and Lovely or Dark is Beautiful (2015)
  • Victim, Deviant, Woman: Images of Sex Workers in the International Discourse (2015)
  • Stitching Stories: A Dialogue About Working Women in India's Textile Industry (2015)
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention at Pune University (2015)
  • The Standards of Beauty for Women in India (2014)
  • Ecofeminism in Action: Four Case Studies of Female Environmentalists in Pune, Maharashtra (2014)
  • The History and Progression of Feminism in Pune: Focuses of Indian Feminism (2013)
  • Microcredit and Women's Empowerment (2013)
  • Depictions of Gender in Indian Literature by Women Post-1980 (2013)
  • Why Do You Write?  An analysis of the motivations driving Indian women authors (2011)
  • Generational Evolution of Working Mothers in Contemporary India  (2010)
  • Microcredit Programs in Pune and their Impact on Poverty and Women’s Empowerment  (2010)
  • Mother-Daughter Relationships in India (2010)
  • Influence of Evolving Conceptions of Social Role and Sexuality on the Depiction of Women in Bollywood Films (2010)
  • Struggle for Equality: The Women's Movement in India (2009)
  • Dalit Women's Education in Contemporary Indian Society (2009)
  • Women Writers in Maharashtra (2008)
  • Birth Rate and Women Literacy (2008)
  • Educational Backwardness:  The Education of Muslim Women (2006)
  • Gender and Leisure Space in Pune (2004)
  • Women, Political Participation, and Empowerment in Rural Maharashtra (2004)
  • More than Half of the Foundation: The Future History of Six Maharashtrian Women in Agriculture (2003)
  • Gambling On the Lives of Girls (2003)
  • All That a Wife Can Do: A Study of Working Women in India and the Double Burden (2003)