Indian professionals study conflict and conservation during Brandeis visit

Civil servants pursuing MAs with their government's support

Brandeis University faculty specializing in sustainable international development and coexistence and conflict recently gave presentations of their work to a group of 11 mid-career civil servants from India who are pursuing conservation-oriented master’s degrees with Indian government sponsorship.

The students were from TERI – The Energy and Resources Institute, of Delhi – and were hosted by the Brandeis Office of Global Affairs, which is attempting to strengthen the university’s ties to India.

They heard lectures from Theodore Johnson, assistant professor in the Coexistence and Conflict Program, on theories of cooperation and conflict in relief and development situations; from Attila Klein, professor emeritus of biology, on democratic participation in budgeting natural resources; and from Eric Olson, senior lecturer in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, on how carbon management could help preserve the world’s great forests and slow global warming.

In a concluding session, the students talked with Associate Vice President for Global Affairs Daniel S. Terris about their appreciation for refreshing and sometimes novel approaches to conflict management and conservation that they heard about from the Brandeis professors. Most said they felt more time should be spent at Brandeis during future TERI tours of the United States.

The students were on a six-week trip to the United States, which included stops at the University of Texas, Yale University, Washington and New York, but which initially did not include Brandeis.

Their stop at Brandeis developed out of a trip that Terris and Professor Harleen Singh, co-chair of the university’s new South Asia Studies Program, made to India last spring as part of Provost Marty Wyngaarden Krauss’ initiative to extend Brandeis’ global reach.

At the suggestion of  alumnus Mickey Schulhof, they visited TERI, which is led by Schulhof’s friend R.K. Pachauri, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for his work on climate-change issues.

"In India, we usually focus on South Aian countries,'' said Neeta Prasad, one of the visiting scholars. "I liked the focus here on South America and Africa. It gave a fresh look.''

Dharitri Panda, another visitor, said the Brandeis professors’ approach to negotiation and mediation "was very different from what we have done…''

Terris said he hopes that "this is the beginning of a tradition for TERI students to come to Brandeis.''  He said he also wants to explore possibilities of Brandeis students working within TERI or Indian government organizations.

For more information about the Office of Global Affairs, visit the Global Brandeis Web site.

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