“If we are going to be successful as a state in the 21st century, North Carolina – and North Carolinians – must better understand the largest democracy in the world,” said UNC President Tom Ross to more than 100 UNC system faculty and Asian-Indian leaders who came together on January 30, 2013 to share their ideas on how the University of North Carolina and India can develop programs and strategies that can help solve the challenges of the future.
- The “UNC-India Summit” was the first step toward finding ways that UNC could more effectively engage with India. UNC is looking for ideas in four specific areas
- How we can get more UNC students and faculty experience in India?
- How can we bring more Indian students to UNC?
- Should we form a system-wide alliance with an entity in India, and if so where?; and
- Is there a role UNC could play in helping India develop more young faculty?
Following the UNC-India Summit several faculty volunteered to lead discussions on these themes.
- Education Abroad or UNC to India. During 2011-12 fewer than 100 of nearly 6000 UNC students studying abroad studied in India. We sought ideas about how to increase interest and ability of students to have an experience in India. Faculty could play a key role in increasing student interest in India if more faculty connections in India are encouraged and created. This item took two tracks.
a. Dr. Viney Aneja of NC State led discussions on how to make international experiences in India more available to STEM students.
b. Dr. Sandria Freitag of NC State led ongoing conversations on how to address opportunities for non-STEM students looking at study abroad, exchange programs, service learning programs and internships in India.
- Student Recruitment and Retention. While enrollment of students from India on UNC campuses is high, the India to UNCteam addressed how to more effectively market the UNC system as an education destination for top Indian students, and how to effectively engage them with non-Indian students once they are here. This team was led by Dr. James Gehlhar of East Carolina University and Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa of Appalachian State University.
- Models for a system alliance. Currently nine UNC campuses have 44 reported agreements with universities in India. Discussions centered on the potential benefits of a system-level presence, how the presence should be structured, and whether or not UNC should even pursue forming a system-level alliance with an institution or institutions in India. If not, what would be the most effective way to help campuses bolster relationships in India? This team was led by Dr. Joti Sekhon of Winston-Salem State University, and Dr. Afroz Taj of UNC-Chapel Hill.
- Training junior faculty in India. The presentation at the UNC-India Summit of a proposed project to train junior faculty in India to educate the burgeoning population under the age of 25 was met with approval by Minister Govind Mohan. Following the Summit Dr. Ray Purdom of UNC Greensboro, Dr. Scott Simkins of North Carolina A&T State University, and Dr. Todd Zakrajsek of UNC-Chapel Hill worked with staff at UNC General Administration to develop a formal proposal which has been submitted by UNC General Administration to the Indian Ambassador in Washington, D.C. Should this proposal eventually be funded, UNC faculty across the system will be involved to initiate a sustainable faculty development for Indian faculty. In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions about how to build on such a project to increase UNC’s overall engagement with India!
- Other initiatives, ideas, suggestions. During the UNC-India Summit attendees brought up many other ideas for engagement with India. These included:
a. Growing the Hindi-Urdu language program;
b.Helping new student groups that engage with students from India get started;
c. Expanding collaboration in course offerings in the humanities;
d. Raising awareness for language & culture across the system;
e.Implementing peace studies;
f. Enacting more collaborative research;
g. Tapping into the resources of the Indian Diaspora in North Carolina;
h. Identifying funding sources.
The outcome of this work is found in our strategic plan, which was presented to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in September 2013.