UB Receives Grant to Expand South Asian Studies Program

By John Wood

Release Date: September 15, 2009


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Asian Studies Program at the University at Buffalo has received a two-year, $172,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand the university's undergraduate course offerings, academic exchanges and events related to South Asia.

The university will use Department of Education funding to hire a new professor of South Asian Languages and Literature, expand its course offerings in the Hindi language, add Urdu to the curriculum (Urdu is a national language of Pakistan and an officially recognized language of India), provide scholarships for study abroad in India and organize performances and lectures about this economically and strategically important region of the world.

"The Department of Education grant is very good news for our efforts to strengthen South Asian Studies at UB," said Stephen Dunnett, vice provost for international education. "It will allow the Asian Studies Program to take great advantage of the strategic institutional partnerships we have developed in India, most notably with Banaras Hindu University, which can offer our students and faculty many opportunities for research and education about Indian history and culture."

The project will include an opportunity for up to 10 current professors to study and travel to India so they can add South Asia content to existing undergraduate courses or develop new undergraduate courses on the region.

Kristin Stapleton, director of Asian studies, noted that the study tour will give UB faculty members a chance to experience Indian life and learn more about UB's partner schools. "We expect the faculty participants to return home from the study tour with a host of new ideas for incorporating South Asian material into their courses," she said.

The inaugural event of the new South Asia initiative will be a performance by Rhythm of Rajasthan in the Mainstage Theatre in UB's Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 27. The ensemble, with acclaimed dancer Sua Devi, will perform folk music from the Great Thar Desert in the Indian State of Rajasthan, featuring percussion, Sufi songs, bowed lute and double flute. Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students. A limited number of free tickets are available for UB undergraduates enrolled in Asian Studies courses.

The courses and programs on South Asia will be developed under the auspices of UB's new South Asia Institute, which the university plans to establish through a combination of government, foundation, corporate and individual contributions. The fundraising effort will be under the direction of UB Provost Satish Tripathi, a graduate of Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.

With the new faculty positions, courses and programs proposed in the current funding request, UB will be able to include South Asia -- alongside China, Japan, and Korea -- as an area of focus for undergraduates majoring in Asian Studies. The new undergraduate classes will also be of value to majors in other departments who would like to increase their knowledge of South Asia for career or personal reasons.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.