Alliances formed in India

March 04, 2004, vol. 29, no. 5
By Julie Ovenell-Carter

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SFU President Michael Stevenson travelled to India last month to forge important new alliances with three prestigious post-secondary institutions: Punjab University in Chandigarh, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) in Chennai.

Stevenson signed memoranda of understanding with the three institutions to facilitate new field schools, exchange programs for students and faculty, and co-op placements for students. (All post-secondary instruction in India is in English.)

“We have established strong partnerships with the leading educational institutions in a country that demands our attention because of its sheer size, economic momentum, and intellectual and cultural tradition,” says Stevenson. “These agreements will stimulate more effective recruitment of students from Canada who want to have opportunities in India, and Indian students from our partner institutions who may want to pursue graduate studies at SFU.”

According to Randall Martin, SFU international's director of international cooperation and mobility, India will be the world's most populous country, with the third largest economy after the U.S. and China, by 2020.

“Almost 400 of the Fortune 500 companies have outsourcing operations in India,” he observes. “We want to acknowledge the increasing importance of India by creating opportunities there for our scholars and students, and by increasing the number and diversity of programs in South Asian studies at SFU.”

Stevenson and Martin are optimistic the new alliances will help swell the number of Indo-Canadian students enrolled in post-secondary programs in B.C.

“We hope to make SFU the university of choice for Vancouver's South Asian population,” says Martin.

Planning is under way for two SFU field schools in India. Contemporary arts director Martin Gotfrit hopes to lead a program in contemporary Indian visual and performing arts at JNU. Vive Kumar, an assistant professor of interactive arts and technology, will lead a program in technology in developing societies at IIT-M.

During his visit, Stevenson paid his respects at the holy site of the Sikh faith, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. He also celebrated SFU's little-known connection to India with a tour of Fatepurh Sikri, a fortified ghost city that was the capital of the Mogul empire in the 16th century and the inspiration for architect Arthur Erickson's design for SFU.

“The connections to SFU were palpable,” says Stevenson.

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