Examine India’s socioeconomic development trends and how rethinking development is gaining urgency for shaping sustainable social change.
Live and study in Jaipur, an example of the dichotomy of tradition and modernity, wealth and poverty.
Jaipur presents itself as a wealthy and regal city containing clean, stately, tree-lined streets; traditional and contemporary architecture; heritage palaces and forts; five-star hotels; and a thriving tourism industry. However, the largely rural and agricultural state of Rajasthan is among the underdeveloped regions in India, and Jaipur, the state's capital city, reflects this reality. Rural and urban youth throughout the region struggle with problems ranging from life-threatening droughts to gaining admission to prestigious universities. In Jaipur, you will enjoy access to academics, professional associations, and grassroots organizers seeking innovative ways to address issues of poverty, social justice, and sustainable development through state-led social security provisions and livelihood development.
Examine how India’s socioeconomic development is shaping sustainable change.
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 poised 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. You’ll examine the diverse factors, internal and global, shaping India’s development strategies and patterns and gain foundational knowledge of India’s past, present, and future development paradigms, economic growth, and development alternatives.
Explore critical issues India faces today.
Visit diverse organizations and NGOs, prominent academic research institutes, under-resourced urban communities, and villages to examine a range of critical issues such as gender, rehabilitation programs, education, tribal communities, agrarian culture, and Hindu religious minorities.
Gain direct exposure to some of the most inspired and important Indian experts working in the development and social change arenas.
The program’s lecturers include policymakers and planners, academicians, development practitioners, NGO workers, researchers, Gandhi scholars, journalists, social workers, feminists, and development and social change activists.
Study the Hindi language daily in both large- and small-group formats. You will be encouraged to continue working on your language skills outside the classroom, especially with your homestay families, during excursions, and while completing the NGO workshop. If you have advanced Hindi skills, you may opt for tutoring.
Acquire research and field study skills.
Through the program’s course on the ethics and methods of field research, you will learn appropriate methodologies that will prepare you to undertake primary research on critical issues and topics relating to social and political change and development.
Conduct independent research or complete an internship at a development organization.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Development concepts, theories, and approaches
- India’s transition: post-1990s
- Rural and urban development: crises, challenges, and responses
- Moving beyond “developmentality”
- Systems thinking and sustainability
- Creating a roadmap for sustainability in India and radical ecological democracy
- Development alternative interventions and case studies
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Trilochan Pandey, MS, Academic Director
Trilochan received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science in 2003 from the University of Delhi and an MS in sustainable development in 2009 from Sikkim Manipal University. He was academic and field coordinator of this program before becoming academic director in 2016. In his current position, he assists students in academic and field components and facilitates learning in the classroom and in the field. Trilochan has worked with The Mountain Institute-India, Right to Food Campaign-India, Oxfam GB, Control Arms Foundation, and Greenpeace-India in New Delhi. He is interested in right-to-food policies, organic farming, family farming in the mountains, and the solidarity economy. He has studied organic farming in Sikkim for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Anjani Sharma, MA, Language Faculty
Anjani has a master’s degree in Aacharya from Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Delhi, and a bachelor’s in education with a focus on Hindi and Sanskrit language instruction. She has more than six years’ experience teaching Hindi in public and private institutions. She interned for six months in Johannesburg, South Africa, and taught Hindi at the American Institute of Indian Studies, Jaipur. She has translated textbooks and other material from English into Hindi. Anjani is an innovative teacher with extensive knowledge of Indian culture, traditions, and development. Her favorite pastimes include reading, gardening, and coin collecting.
Pragya Vardhan, MA, Language Faculty
Pragya has a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Rajasthan. She was language coordinator in Neerja Modi School, where she conducted student and teacher exchange programs and taught Hindi to foreign nationals. She also assisted Dr. Matthew C. J. Rudolph in research work on economic, political, and social reforms of South Asian countries and has edited a magazine and received training at Dainik Bhaskar, a leading Hindi daily. Pragya brings a wealth of knowledge of Indian culture and language learning. She loves to dance, cook, and travel to exotic places.
Rashmi Sharma, PhD, Language Faculty
Rashmi holds BA, MA, and PhD degrees in Hindi literature from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. For ten years, she taught Hindi as a foreign language to beginning, intermediate, and advanced students, mostly at American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), Jaipur. She has coordinated language learning field visits and the AIIS Summer Intensive Hindi Language Partners program, organized by the U.S. Department of State. She is interested in Hindi grammar, phonology, morphology, and poetics; community interaction; and research methods. Rashmi’s poetry has been published in Indian magazines. She also enjoys listening to music, singing, and cooking.
Rama Kumari, Homestay and Lifestyle Coordinator
Rama has a degree in social sciences from the University of Delhi. She has been a homestay mother since 1996. She joined SIT Jaipur as homestay coordinator in 2007. She plays an active role in delivering cross-cultural orientation and guiding students on social and cultural activities. Kumari enjoys cooking various Indian delicacies. She has traveled widely across Europe, has studied German, and enjoys making new friends.
Uday Kumar Mehto, Program Officer
Uday joined SIT in 1999 as a program associate and chef. A specialist in Thai delicacies, Mehto trained at the prestigious Lodhi Garden Restaurant in New Delhi and has worked at Flow restaurant in Jaipur. He has participated in the SIT exchange training program in Kathmandu, Nepal, and trained SIT’s Nepal staff in Indian cooking. He offers Indian cooking classes to interested students. When not in the kitchen, he is often busy helping the administrative team. He enjoys listening to traditional Hindi music and playing cricket.
Awadhesh Aadhar, Program Coordinator
Awadhesh has worked for SIT for more than 17 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in law, sociology, and management. He has assisted in SIT’s summer program on Himalayan Art and Architecture and traveled with students to mountain sites. He is responsible for financial accounting and organizing and coordinating program logistics. He enjoys reading poems and playing cricket and badminton.
Manoj Sain, Student Health Services Coordinator
Manoj has a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of Rajasthan. He has worked with SIT for more than eight years and is responsible for student health services and program logistics and supports students in language learning. During the summer, he works as the program coordinator for the summer agroecology program in Sikkim. Previously, he managed his own pharmaceuticals business and was a tutor. He has traveled to mountainous terrain on student excursions and loves photography, dance, and playing cricket and badminton.
Key guest lecturers for the program include:
Makarand Paranjape, PhD
Makarand has a master’s degree and a PhD from the University of Illinois and is a professor of English at the Centre for English Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Among his recent book publications are Cultural Politics in Modern India: Postcolonial Prospects, Colourful Cosmopolitanism, Global Proximities (Routledge, 2016); The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi (Routledge, 2014); and Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority (Springer, 2013). He has received many prestigious fellowships and awards at universities in Germany, Singapore, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.
Prathiba Jain, PhD
Prathiba obtained her PhD in history from the University of Jaipur, Rajasthan, where she was for many years a professor of history and vice chairperson of the Institute of Development Studies. Prathiba has published several research papers and books, including Gandhian Ideas, Social Movements, and Creativity and Honour Status and Polity, Rajputana. She has received national and international awards and is a practicing Gandhian and renowned scholar on Gandhi.
Pramada is a queer and feminist activist. She works as an independent consultant on sexuality, sexual rights, gender, violence against women, organizational development, and change and livelihoods. She is a co-founder of CREA, an international women’s human rights organization, and was CREA’s director of programs from 2000 to 2008. She was executive director of Dastkar, which aims to ensure sustainable livelihoods for craftspeople.
Pradip is an independent communication specialist and filmmaker in environment and development. He was associate director of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, and edited India’s foremost environment and development journal, Down to Earth. He freelances and co-directs a research and communication consultancy firm in New Delhi.
Tara Nair, PhD
Tara has an MPhil in applied economics and a PhD in economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Development Studies. She has worked as faculty at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad, and Institute of Rural Management Anand. She also headed research at the Friends of Women’s World Banking in India for two years. Recently she was a visiting scholar at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris and at Jonkoping University’s International Business School in Sweden. Her research concerns policy and institutional development in pro-poor financial services, rural innovation, women and development, and livelihoods. She has contributed to the discourse on Indian micro-finance since the late 1990s. She co-authored the Micro-finance State of the Sector Report 2013 and the Inclusive Finance India Report 2014. She has also edited a volume of essays titled Micro-finance in India: Approaches, Outcomes and Challenges (Routledge India, 2015).
Program in a minute-ish
This interdisciplinary program offers an understanding of social, political, and economic change in India through exploring India’s colonial past and present frenetic growth. Students consider the most effective transformative tools for 21st-century India and examine the idea of “Indian culture” from anthropological and contemporary political perspectives.
The Field Methods and Ethics course addresses culturally appropriate, ethical field methodology in preparation for the Independent Study Project. The study of Hindi opens windows into the culture and the program’s theme.
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Shaping Sustainable Social Change – syllabus
- (ASIA3010 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course exposes students to various frameworks for rethinking development and its application in context of India and beyond, with the potential to address challenge related to sustainability, the course enables student to identify agents of change and analyze their role in shaping sustainable social change. Students will learn the emerging alternatives to development paradigms in India and develop their theoretical and conceptual framework for thinking and acting towards a sustainable future.
- Development Approaches and Distributive Justice – syllabus
- (ASIA3020 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course provides a strong foundation on various aspects of Indian society and builds critical perspectives on post-1990s Indian development experience and its impact on rural and urban India, along with the additional challenge posed by climate change. Keeping land and natural resources central to human well-being, the course provides reflection and analysis of the social justice and sustainability issues of contemporary India and the world.
- Beginning Hindi – syllabus
- (HIND1003-1503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Intermediate Hindi – syllabus
- (HIND2003-2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Advanced Hindi – syllabus
- (HIND3003-3503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes.
- Field Methods and Ethics – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- A course on research methods and ethics in conducting independent social science field studies in the cross-cultural context of India. Topics include cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; selecting and refining projects; using appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in designing research, writing proposals, choosing relevant methods, observing and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a fieldwork journal.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
- Independent Study Project – syllabus
- (ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- Conducted in approved field sites across India, the independent study project is an opportunity to delve more deeply into a field study topic of choice. Sample topic areas: theater for social change; traditional women’s crafts and the modern market; Indian wildlife conservation and international nongovernmental organization involvement; irrigation and water management issues; a critical analysis of elephant tourism; call centers as the job of the educated future; marketing culture and Rajput identity; microfinance and women’s empowerment; language and literacy; a comparison of traditional and mass production of Indian textiles.
- Internship and Seminar – syllabus
- (ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- This four-week internship provides an opportunity for students to intern with diverse national, international, and community-based nongovernmental organizations and other private entities working on various issues related to environment and development, rural and urban livelihood generation, environmental awareness and advocacy, women’s empowerment, ecological agriculture, sustainable mountain development, implementation and monitoring of federal programs for social security, etc. The key focus is to nurture and support students as they explore and/or build on their individual career interests. In the process, students will have opportunities to build professional networks, apply new knowledge of development and social change in India, including soft skills in an organizational or community setting. The internship culminates in a final paper detailing the organization, its approaches to development, reflection on the internship experience, and analysis of the tasks undertaken and how it relates to the program theme, along with new skills and knowledge gained in the context of India’s development experience and the role of various stakeholders. While conducting the internship, students participate in weekly debriefing meetings and write two progress reports.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
The program includes visits to a diversity of NGO headquarters, prominent academic and research institutes, and villages. Visits to locations in Rajasthan will expose you to the realities of rural life in India and socioeconomic development in arid and semi-arid regions on the state.
In a typical semester, excursions may include visits to all or many of these NGOs and institutions:
- Bodh Shiksha Samiti, an organization working for quality education for underprivileged children through community residential schools and serving more than 26,000 children (urban and rural) in Rajasthan
- Jaipur Foot Factory, the world’s largest producer of prosthetic below-the-waist limbs, provided free to those in need, irrespective of caste, religion, origin, or ethnicity. This excursion introduces students you to one of the most successful models of a rehabilitation center and provides an opportunity to learn about social change and the empowerment of people with physical disabilities.
- International College for Girls, University of Rajasthan, a private institution providing higher education for women in the Jaipur district. You may meet ICG students your own age.
- Gram Vikas Navyuvak Mandal Laporiya (Rajasthan), an organization run by Asoka fellow, social activist, and development practitioner Laxman Singh that works on many development and conservation initiatives, including biodiversity conservation
- Pak Visthapit Sangh (Jodhpur), a rights movement highlighting the plight of Hindu refugees who have been victims of religious fundamentalism and advocating for their citizenship and rehabilitation
- Uttari Rajasthan Milk Union Limited Trust (Bikaner), which works with the poor to facilitate increased self-reliance
- National Research Centre on Camel (Bikaner), a research institution established by the Indian government because of the importance of camels in the socioeconomic development of arid and semi-arid zones. The center undertakes research for the improvement of keystone camel species in collaboration with national and international institutes.
- Barefoot College (Tilonia), a rural development organization led by the people it serves, who also establish its development goals. The College provides basic services and solutions—including solar electrification, clean water, education and livelihood development, healthcare, rural handicrafts, and communication—to problems in rural communities, aiming to make communities self-sufficient and sustainable.
Development Workshop Excursions
Immersion in development interventions and sustainability development and social change happens through the program’s five- to seven-day workshop. Workshop opportunities vary, but are offered in the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh. All of the below or only a few may be part of your semester depending on logistics, facilitation, and interests.
Sample workshop sites:
- Kiran Centre (Madhopur/Varanasi), a center that provides education, vocational training, and physical rehabilitation of children and youth—many with polio, cerebral palsy, rickets, or hearing impairment
- Shikshantar, an organic learning community, video and library resource center, and applied research center that aims to challenge the monopoly of factory schooling and enable open learning communities that support new ideas of Swaraj, or self-rule, as originally envisioned by Gandhi. At Shikshantar, you will go through an “unlearning” process through transdisciplinary reflection, dialogue, vision-building, and experimentation.
- Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (Dehradun), a nongovernmental organization started in the 1970s that spearheaded development work in the tribal area of Jaunsar-Bhawar. Today it works in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Haryana to bring awareness about human rights and supplement the initiatives of the National Human Rights Commission and state commissions. It also focuses on community forest management (particularly safeguarding the rights of the indigenous nomadic Van Gujjars), capacity building of marginalized communities in Panchayati Rule (local self-governance), and gender equity in local government.
- The Adivasi Academy (Tejgadh) aims to create a unique environment for the study of tribal communities. Its long-term vision is to become an institute for the study of tribal history, folklore, cultural geography, social dynamics, economy, development studies, medicine, music, arts, and theater. With its multidisciplinary approach and interventional measures, the academy embodies academic activism.
- Jagori Grameen (Dharamsala), a national feminist-based organization that works with communities to address discrimination based on gender, class, caste, religion, and disability. At Jagori, you will be exposed to interventions such as informal women’s courts, rural knowledge resource centers, inclusion and capacity building of women in local government, and sexuality and human rights education.
- Watershed Activities and Services Network (Hyderabad) works for qualitative change in India’s watershed-based development programs and provides capacity building and support services for natural resources management initiatives. It promotes livelihoods for the poor and addresses economic and gender equity.
I am convinced of the power of grassroots organizing, since our program introduced us to many NGOs making a significant impact in India.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will live with a homestay family in Jaipur for approximately six weeks. Homestay families have a longstanding relationship with SIT and are eager to welcome students into their homes. Most are upper middle class, with varied religious backgrounds and worldviews. Some family members are homemakers, and others are professionals—teachers, engineers, business owners, government officials, doctors, and artists.
Indian family structure is transitioning from multi-generational to nuclear, and the number of families with both parents working outside the home is growing. Members of your group will live in families of varied sizes, which might include parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, small children, and uncles and aunts. Few families have pets. The program has a one student, one family norm. Typically, students have a separate room with an attached bathroom that might also be occasionally shared by visiting relatives.
You will be matched with a family based on your background and health issues as well as shared interests. Most homestays are one to ten kilometers from the program center. Your home will be within a short walk of three or four other SIT students, allowing you to share auto rickshaws to the learning center. You will usually use the same auto rickshaw for traveling Jaipur in your free time, maximizing safety and convenience. The program collects information such as name, phone number, and vehicle registration number from the regularly and occasionally used rickshaw drivers.
The homestay experience provides an opportunity to share and learn about customs, food, languages, and social and religious lives via daily activities at home and with members of the extended family. The experience provides a sense of social change and continuity in India’s family structure and traditions. During the Indian wedding seasons, you may also get to attend “Bollywood-style” north Indian weddings with dance, music, jewelry, and sarees.
Other accommodation during the program includes hostels, small hotels, NGO facilities, and educational institutions.
A diversity of students representing many colleges, universities, and majors participate in this program. Many have gone on to do amazing things that connect to their experience abroad with SIT.
Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Junior fellow with Asian University for Women, Chittagong, Bangladesh
- Knowledge manager at Ashoka Changemakers, Washington, DC
- Research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India, Philadelphia, PA
- Research assistant at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College Institute for Social Innovation, Pittsburgh, PA
- Program manager of the William J. Clinton Fellowship at the American India Foundation, New Delhi, India
Alum presents research at 2016 Human Development Conference
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You will spend the final four weeks of the program engaged in an Independent Study Project (ISP) conducted in Rajasthan or in another approved location in India. The ISP provides you with an opportunity to pursue original research on a situation or topic of particular interest to you.
Students have conducted ISPs in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, New Delhi, West Bengal, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. NGOs often play a critical role in facilitating ISPs.
Sample ISP topic areas:
- Documentary film project on the holistic impact of hydroelectric dams on rivers in the Himalayas
- Legal pluralism and gender justice
- Biodiversity conservation efforts and promotion of indigenous rice varieties
- Environmental injustice and interconnection in the context of the Ganges
- The role of women in traditional seed supply systems
- Information technology and social change
- Socioeconomics of water scarcity
- Communism in Kerala and its impact on human development measures
- Gandhi and the Khadi industry in contemporary India
- Dams, mining, and tribal displacement and conflict
- Food security and the public distribution system
- Impacts of globalization on traditional art and artisans in northern India
- Usage patterns and social consequences of a mobile phone–based alternative citizen journalism platform
- Climate change, water, and biodiversity conservation
- Urban farming in Indian cities
- Indian wildlife conservation and international NGO involvement
- Human-elephant conflict in northern West Bengal explored through documentary film
- Microfinance, fair trade, and women’s empowerment
You can choose to do an internship rather than an ISP. SIT internships are hands on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper processing your learning experience on the job and analyzing an issue important to the organization you interned with, and/or you will design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.
- Interning in urban planning, energy, and food distribution at the Institute of Development Management in Rajasthan
- Assisting rights-based approaches to development and adult literacy efforts at Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra in Uttarakhand
- Conducting development communication and field documentation work at DamageControl in New Delhi
- Aiding efforts related to legal rights, reproductive health, and capacity building for women at Jagori Grameen in Himachal Pradesh
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Development Approaches and Distributive Justice
- Shaping Sustainable Social Change
- Field Methods and Ethics course on research methods and Human Subjects Review
- All educational excursions, related travel, lodging, and food costs
- Independent Study Project or internship (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Intensive language instruction in beginning and advanced Hindi
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $3,635
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Jaipur), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project or internship, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- Homestay (six weeks in Jaipur)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $211
Books & Supplies: $100
International Phone: Each student must bring a phone with them to their program.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.