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Educators visiting south India

india Updated: Jul 03, 2006 13:53 IST
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A team of 14 educators, including 11 from North Jersey, is bound for southern India this weekend to begin a month-long study of the region and its interactions with the rest of the world.

Funded by a Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad Grant, the team members will stay in Bangalore and immerse themselves in local life, observing how work and work-related activities are influenced by class, gender, caste and other factors, according to a report in New jersey.Com.

"India has long been regarded as a grand laboratory,"said project director Balmurli Natrajan, a William Paterson University anthropology professor. He described the country as a "crucible of change" and an example of the modern versus the traditional, and said the group plans to meet with workers, managers, activists and policy makers, among others.

Not all of the visiting educators are social scientists, said Donna Marie Perry, an English professor at William Paterson. "I love the fact that we have sociology, history, women's studies and other professors on the trip," said Perry, who is looking forward to visiting the region's export-processing zone.

Professor Balmurli Natrajan (Ph.D. 1999 University of Iowa, MA Iowa State University, MS Southern Polytechnic State, US) is a cultural anthropologist specialising in group formation/collective action, theories of community, and globalisation and development.

His field work and publications are based on the formation of caste-based communities in India, comparing caste and race in the context of global human rights, and the cultural economy and politics of development.

He takes introductory classes in anthropology, South Asian civilisations, and courses on Globalisation, the Anthropology of South Asia, and Race and Caste in comparative perspective.

Dr Natrajan, who also leads an ethnographic Study Abroad Program to Bangalore, India , said "We're going to meet a lot of people and spend time talking with them." The goal of the project, organisers say, is to boost international studies in middle and secondary schools in New Jersey and enhance William Paterson's new Asian studies programme.

The project also will be used to create a resource network on South Asia for teachers. The group's findings will be presented at a University conference on teaching Asian studies.

William Paterson will give presentations. Other WPU participants include Jebroja Singh, a women's studies professor and project coordinator, and Professors Joanne Cho, Sheila Collins, Ali Mir, Aaron Tesfaye and Gabe Wang.

New jersey public school teachers on the trip include John Messina of Valley Middle School in Oakland, Lucy Danny of Paramus High School and William Wolak of Bogota Junior/Senior High School.

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