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India: Sustainable Development and Social Change (SIT)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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This SIT program examines the diverse factors, internal and global, shaping India's development strategies and patterns. Students will gain foundational knowledge of India's past, present and future development paradigms, economic growth, and development alternatives. The program is based in Jaipur, a historical city in the state of Rajasthan. Major topics of study include:

  • Development concepts, theories and approaches
  • India's transition post-1990s
  • Rural and urban development: crisis, challenges and response
  • Moving beyond developmentality
  • Creating a roadmap for sustainability in India and radical ecological democracy
  • Development alternative interventions and case studies

India is the world's largest democracy with a rapidly growing economy, vibrant IT industry and service sector, and burgeoning middle class, and it is posed to become an influential world power. Despite its impressive economic growth, social hierarchy, inequity, and poverty remain enormous challenges for this country of more than one billion people.

In Jaipur, students will begin thematic coursework, language study, and a fields methods and ethics course, while enjoying access to academics, professional associations, and grassroots organizers working in areas such as community development, natural resource management, and poverty alleviation through state-led social security provisions and livelihood development.

Although Jaipur is a stately, wealthy city with traditional and contemporary architecture, heritage palaces and forts, and a thriving tourism industry, the largely rural and agricultural state of Rajasthan is among the underdeveloped regions in India, and Jaipur, the state's capital, also reflects this reality. Organizations supported by concerned urban citizens seek innovative ways to address issues of poverty, social justice, and sustainable development in Rajasthan's rural areas as well as among the urban poor.

The program's lecturers include policymakers and planners, academics, development practitioners, NGO workers, researchers, Gandhi scholars, journalists, social workers, feminist activists and development and social change activists. Students will study Hindi daily in large- and small-group formats, and are encouraged to continue their language study with their host families, during excursions and while completing the NGO workshop. If you have advanced Hindi language skills, you may opt for tutoring.

All students will conduct independent research projects (ISP) in the final month of the programs. The ethics and methods course enables students to develop skills in preparation for the ISP. These skills include:

  • Cross-cultural adaptation and skills building
  • Project selection and refinement
  • Appropriate fieldwork methodologies
  • Skills in observation and interviewing
  • Maintaining a work journal
  • Networking and resource mobilization

Assigned papers will provide an opportunity for students to test the tools introduced during the course while providing occasions for discussions on ethics and intercultural readings. Throughout the Field Methods and Ethics course, students will work to develop their research topics for the ISP and will advance initial ideas, assumptions and drafts in close consultation with the program's academic director.

Students will spend the final four weeks of the program engaged in the Independent Study Project (ISP) conducted in Rajasthan or in another approved location in India. The ISP provides an opportunity to students to pursue original research on a situation or topic of particular interest.

Learn more about the India: Sustainable Development and Social Change program and other SIT programs.

Credits: 4.5 Knox credits for the fall or spring semester

Advisor: Professor Katherine Adelsberger

Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022