Activities in India–from faculty partnerships and institutional visits, to study abroad efforts–have increased substantially in the past few years. Our India “Winterim” study abroad program, which takes place each year from the end of December to the beginning of the spring semester in late January, is a case in point. In the winter term, 2006-07, there was a single course offered in India, and 17 students enrolled. By any standard measure, a group of 17 is a healthy start for a first-time study abroad program. But from 2006-07 to 2010-11, the program has exploded. This past winter, 164 students participated in 11 different sections. These sections addressed an amazing range of topics from classical music and dance to palliative care to entrepreneurship and microfinance. Every college on the UI campus has sent faculty and/or students to India on this program. And this year, I am particularly pleased to say that of the 164 participants, 52 were local Indian students. The fact that students from the UI and other U.S. institutions participated in the same classes as local Indians is a real milestone, because such an arrangement provides tremendous learning opportunities on both sides. In addition to our winterim program, we have a semester-long program in partnership with our long-standing friends at the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) in Mysore. UI faculty from Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dentistry, Nursing, and other colleges have been and continue to develop curriculum and research programs with our Indian partners at SVYM. In addition to these programs, many faculty have ongoing , individual research partnerships with colleagues throughout India.
In order to build on these successes, I am particularly pleased to note that the University of Iowa has decided to partner with GenNext Education to build infrastructure on the ground in India through their International Knowledge Center in Bangalore. The IKC will serve as the UI’s India liaison office, providing support in south India and throughout the country for our linkages with businesses and educational institutions, our study abroad partnerships, and our recruitment efforts to bring highly-qualified Indian students to Iowa City to pursue their education. I visited Bangalore in late April to mark the opening of the IKC, and to meet with current and future partners. The IKC occupies the entire second floor of an office building that is centrally located in Bangalore. It will provide the UI with individual and group meeting space for study abroad groups or for visiting faculty, and also with staff effort to reach out to our partners in India. During my visit, I also hosted a small gathering of alumni, from engineers to writers, an event I hope to continue each year in partnership with the collegiate deans. Our presence at the International Knowledge Center is an exciting new development in keeping with the expanded global reach of the UI over the past few years.