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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

Scroll down or use links to see students' ISP titles in recent years.

Anthropology & sociology Government & politics
Art, music, literature, & dance Philosophy & religion
Education Public health
Environmental studies Women's & gender studies
Globalization & development  

Anthropology & Sociology

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Art, Music, Literature, & Dance

  • Conveying Culture through Movement: Studying the Roles of Indian Classical Dance (2017)
  • Hindustani Violin and a Comparative Analysis with American Folk Music (2017)
  • 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)

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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)

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Globalization & Development

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Government & Politics

  • Child Protection Laws: On Paper vs. On the Street — A Study of the Implementation on Child Protection Laws in India (2017)
  • 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)

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Philosophy & Religion

  • Humanizing the Orientalized: A Dialectal Consideration of Theologies in Pune, India (2017)
  • 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)

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Public Health

  • Reducing Stress: An Independent Study Exploring Yoga as a Way to Deal with Stress in India (2017)
  • 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)

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Women's & Gender Studies

  • The Changing Ideals of Body Image through Globalization among Women in Pune, India (2017)
  • Special Education Gender Gap in India: For Female Students with Learning Disabilities and Psychological Disorders (2017)
  • 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)

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