Insights: news and views from the International Center

International Center

University of Missouri

Intersections in India

Filed in India, News and announcements by on May 2, 2014

Global Scholars Program connects MU faculty with universities, industries

Global Scholars Program participants at the INFOSYS campus in Bangalore, India. Photo courtesy of Rod Uphoff.The nationally-acclaimed Global Scholars Program gave 12 MU faculty the opportunity to internationalize their teaching and research methods in India this past winter break. Faculty members were inspired by the program to establish new connections with collaborators in India.

The Global Scholars Program was established in 1998 by the MU Council on International Initiatives and is facilitated through the International Center. The program’s main objective is to increase collaborations between faculty members from MU and institutions abroad. Since the launch of this program, more than 200 MU faculty members have participated. The program also earned the 2002 Andrew Heiskell Award for Best Practices and Innovation in International Education from the Institute of International Education.

Crafting a unique program from diverse perspectives

The goal of the 15-day tour in India was to explore the research and educational opportunities there, as well as further understand the richness of Indian culture. The scholars visited several cities, including Bangalore, Allahabad, Chennai, Mysore, New Delhi and Goa. India is an ideal location for MU to increase its outreach and collaborations because of the country’s growing population, lasting traditions and democratic power in the world economy. The collaboration opportunities for the global scholars included diverse areas such as business, arts, architecture, education, science, technology, journalism, anthropology, textile management, retail management, green nanotechnology, agriculture and more. Building and nurturing relationships with MU alumni in India was also an important component of this visit.

Dr. Kattesh Katti and Dr. Jana Hawley led the seminar. Katti is the director of the University of Missouri’s Cancer Nanotechnology Platform and Institute of Green Nanotechnology, as well as founding co-director of the Nanoparticle Production Core Facility and a Curator’s Professor of Radiology and Physics. He was recognized as one of “25 Most Influential Scientists in Molecular Imaging in the World” by RT Image. Hawley is a professor and chair of the Department of Textile and Apparel Management. She has served as the president of the International Textile and Apparel Association and is an active board member of the Council for Textile Recycling. Both leaders have had previous experience in India — Katti has directed the university’s endeavors in India four times and Hawley leads study abroad programs to India and was also a Fulbright scholar there.

“This trip was unlike any other trip I’ve been on because of Dr. Katti’s connections and being able to get our group in the door of meeting some of the top people in India,” Hawley said.

In addition to visiting industries and universities, Global Scholars Program participants found time to experience cultural sites across India, including the Taj Mahal. Photo courtesy of Mary Shenk.The program’s itinerary alternated between focusing on industry and university visits each day. Industry days included meeting with high profile executives and administrators, while university days consisted of campus tours and meetings with faculty members at Indian universities. The industry-focused days included visits to companies like INFOSYS in Bangalore, which is an international establishment for technology, engineering, business advising and outsourcing assistance. Through Katti’s connections with INFOSYS, scholars were able to meet with CEO Kris Goplakrishnan and learn about the company’s path from its humble beginnings to its current position as a top global IT company. In Chennai and Puducherry, the scholars visited research and development and manufacturing sites of Shasun Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates. They had the opportunity to meet with Abhaya Kumar, CEO and managing director of Shasun.

University visits included Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology and Science and Shasun Jain College for Women. At SHIATS in Allahabad, scholars met with Dr. Rajendra Lal, vice chancellor, and Dr. Newman Fernandes, pro vice chancellor. These meetings continued a historic connection between SHIATS and MU — the agricultural engineering program at SHIATS was started by MU alumnus Mason Vaugh in 1921.

“The dual leadership with [Jana Hawley] worked extremely well,” Katti said. “That’s where the beauty is; we synergized so well and it’s hard to say, but we didn’t have any problems given the fact there could have been so many problems in a place like India that has over 1.2 billion people.”

Making connections to extend MU’s global reach

Randall Smith, professor of convergence and business journalism, was one of two faculty from the MU School of Journalism to participate in the program. Smith is currently working with Katti to bring an Indian graduate student to MU. During the program in India, Smith was also able to establish a stronger connection with fellow global scholar Rodney Uphoff, Elwood L. Thomas Missouri Endowed Professor of Law at MU. Uphoff is the director of the School of Law’s study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa. Through this connection, Smith was able to develop a three-week study abroad program in Cape Town where journalism students will work on a project based on Nelson Mandela’s archives.

“Beyond the potential for partnerships and trips and all the teaching material I have for class, there’s these new relationships where we can brainstorms that’s occurring where, frankly, what started was what people would call a seminal event,” Smith said.

Uphoff and Katti also brainstormed ways to extend MU’s global reach. “Whenever we had some extra time, during lunch or dinner events, Uphoff and I discussed how best we can connect the academic and research enterprises of institutions in India with MU and the University of the Western Cape to develop a tripartite multinational relationship for education and research,” Katti said. These discussions are already yielding measurable results — UWC is setting up a Green Nanotechnology Center, headed by Katti, that will foster collaborative links between UWC, MU and several institutions in India.

The global scholars obtained a greater appreciation for their colleagues, as well as Indian culture as a whole. The scholars are continuing their research and working on projects inspired by their time on the India program.

“My greatest gain from the program was richness in culture and diversity, understanding the direction of research with our other colleagues and, most important, interrelating what I do in terms of what others do and coming up with new ideas,” Katti said.

The Global Scholars Program will resume its internationalization endeavors by hosting a seminar in Turkey this summer. The program will be led by Monika Fischer, associate teaching professor of German and associate director of the Honors College.

Photo gallery

[slickr-flickr search=”sets” set=”72157644049208519″]

Comments are closed.