President's trip to expand Brandeis' India presence

Lawrence, professors will explore links with Indian institutions

Brandeis-India Initiative Fellow Terry Li (left) and Yifei Sun are among numerous Brandeis students and alumni who have studied and worked in India.

President Fred Lawrence during a trip to India as dean of the George Washington University Law School.

President Fred Lawrence and a small group of professors and administrators will visit India for two weeks in early February to explore collaborations in the sciences with leading Indian institutions, hold public discussions that raise the university’s profile in the world’s largest democracy and strengthen ties with Brandeis’ growing network of Indian alumni and supporters.

The mission aims to expand Brandeis’ global reach, enhance the multicultural character of the student body and further engage the campus community in the pursuit of social justice.

“There is a vast potential for collaboration between the United States and India,” said Lawrence, who made numerous trips to the subcontinent as dean of the George Washington University Law School before he became president of Brandeis.

“Brandeis is renowned for the quality of our scientific research and teaching, and India has some of the world’s finest scientific institutions,” Lawrence said. “Social justice and sustainable development are areas of endeavor in which Brandeis is universally recognized, and activists in these fields, including many of our alumni, are working in India to make the world a better, healthier place.”

Lawrence, Vice President for Global Affairs Dan Terris and Professor of Physics Bulbul Chakraborty will explore collaborations with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore on the upcoming trip, building on groundwork by Eve Marder, the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfeld Professor of Neuroscience and head of the Division of Science, who visited Bangalore early this month.

Also participating in public and alumni events on the trip are Harleen Singh, the Helaine and Alvin Allen Assistant Professor of Literature and co-chair of the South Asia Studies Program, and Preeta Banerjee, assistant professor of strategy in the International Business School.

The schedule of events includes public forums in Delhi and Mumbai.

In Delhi, Lawrence and former Indian Attorney General Soli Sorabjee G ‘10, a renowned human-rights lawyer and free-speech advocate, will discuss “Justice in Diverse Societies,” a conversation that will be moderated by Singh.

In Mumbai, the president will discuss “Seeking Social Justice” with Arjun Appadurai ‘70, president of the board of Partners for Urban Knowledge, Action and Research, or PUKAR. Appadurai has held numerous high-level academic positions in the United states, Europe and India and is a leading anthropological analyst of modernity and globalization.

Anita Patil Deshmukh of PUKAR, Devika Mahadevan ’00, Singh and Banerjee will respond to the Lawrence-Appadurai discussion. Mahadevan in 2010 was named the youngest winner ever of Brandeis’ Alumni Achievement Award for her work with Mumbai Mobile Creches, a nonprofit organization that promotes the health and welfare of children of migrant workers growing up on construction sites in India.

The schedule also includes meetings with prospective students, meetings and meals with alumni and friends of the university and numerous meetings between Lawrence and Indian academic leaders.

The organization of the Indian mission is similar in many respects to that of the president’s trip to Israel last summer, as the goals are generally similar. It stems from the strategic approach to the university’s international mission developed by the President’s Office and the Office of Global Affairs.

This calls for the university to respond to globalization in the academy and in society at large by identifying a number of countries in major regions of the world where valuable collaborations can be formed between Brandeis and local institutions. The approach is being taken initially in India and in Israel because in both countries Brandeis already has ongoing partnerships, activities and a strong alumni and student base. A previous mission to India was led by President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz in 2010.

Lawrence and Terris will make a two-day trip to Singapore to meet with academic and business leaders and with alumni and potential students before returning to campus in mid-February.

“India and Singapore are both vital global hubs for science and education,” says Terris. “If Brandeis is going to be a dynamic global player, these are two places where we need to build connections to attract students, collaborate on research and extend the university’s social justice mission.” 

Categories: International Affairs, Student Life

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