India Winterim aims to make UI social entrepreneur leader

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UI geographer Professor Rajagopal takes UI students to the best organizations in India

From Faculty and Staff News, 12/7/09

When University of Iowa geography professor Raj Rajagopal set out to find a model for how he wants the public to view the University’s three-year-old India Winterim Session—a three-week study abroad program—he didn’t have to look very far.

Nestled in the heart of the UI campus sits the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a center of excellence considered by many to be the preeminent program of its kind in the world. Boasting a roster of former students and instructors that includes such major literary figures as Tennessee Williams, Kurt Vonnegut, and John Irving, the workshop is an institution that most organizations would like to emulate.

“The Writer’s Workshop brings top writers to The University of Iowa; we take UI students and faculty to the top organizations around the world,” says Rajagopal.

Equaling the fame of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop will be very difficult, but Rajagopal, strengthened by three years of the program’s growth and guided by a vision, believes he will succeed. A look at plans for the 2009–10 India Winterim shows why.

This year, between Dec. 27 and Jan. 16, the program offers 11 courses to some 105 students who will tour, learn and study about successful organizations and processes in a variety of Indian towns. The three-week study abroad program is administered through the UI Office for Study Abroad, UI International Programs, the UI Division of Continuing Education and the Department of Geography. The course titles range from Safe and Sustainable Water Resources to Maternal and Infant Health in South India. The syllabus for a course titled BplansForHumanity Models for Social Entrepreneurship and Microfinance in Rural and Urban India indicates that the expectations for the course and its students are very ambitious.

Social entrepreneurship course instructor David Burgess, a lecturer in the UI Tippie College of Business for the past 10 years, writes, “In India, we will be surrounded by genius: the single mother and entrepreneur who runs a successful business she started with a $40 micro-loan, and is now a leader in her community; the child who is now a ‘topper’ in his class at school after being rescued from bonded labor; and the program administrators at our partner organizations who have designed mobile Internet centers to supplement education and catalyze entrepreneurship in remote villages.

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Read the full article about India Winterim courses offered at the University of Iowa.

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