By Sarah Nolan
Photo by Kabilan Sathyamurthy
“ Our goal is to create an intellectual destination in Delhi, where scholars and students from the United States, India, and around the world can benefit from the free exchange of ideas.”
—President Robert J. Zimmer
The University of Chicago will open a major new academic center in Delhi next spring, supporting and expanding opportunities for collaboration among scholars and students from India and Chicago, across academic disciplines.
The Center in Delhi will be a home for research and education for University of Chicago faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates working in India and throughout South Asia, as well as Indian researchers and students representing a wide array of institutions, and scholars from around the world.
President Robert J. Zimmer said the Center in Delhi will be an intellectual destination and will enable the University of Chicago to better support research and scholarship that will benefit faculty, students, and society.
“The Center in Delhi reflects the importance the University places on global engagement and our commitment in India and South Asia particularly,” Zimmer said Monday at a news conference in New Delhi. “The Center will support the work of our faculty, provide a platform for collaboration and opportunities for Indian scholars, prepare our students with a much greater understanding of India, South Asia, and global issues, and contribute to intellectual discourse in and with India. Our goal is to create an intellectual destination in Delhi, where scholars and students from the United States, India, and around the world can benefit from the free exchange of ideas.”
The Center will promote scholarship and teaching under three broad umbrellas: business, economics, law and policy; science, energy, medicine and public health; and culture, society, religion, and the arts. It will represent all parts of the University, including the College, the academic divisions, the professional schools, and the University’s affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory.
Century of research collaboration with India
Located in the vibrant cultural and commercial district of Connaught Place, the 17,000-square-foot Center will provide space for seminars and conferences, as well as faculty offices and study areas. It will host Indian and South Asian students and scholars, serve as a base for UChicago students and faculty working at other institutions in India and throughout the region, and engage alumni and parents in India and South Asia.
The new Center in Delhi will capitalize on a strong body of work already underway. A University faculty committee recommended the creation of the Center and has catalogued dozens of research partnerships between UChicago scholars and their Indian and South Asian counterparts.
Since 2010, for instance, students from the University’s School of Social Service Administration have worked with students from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences—established in 1936 by an alumnus of the University of Chicago’s Divinity School—to examine social welfare organization in India, the nature of urban poverty, and local models of community practice. In return, Tata Institute students have come to the University of Chicago to study urban development, human rights, and policy formation, as well as visit local organizations working with the poor.
Under the University of Chicago’s Center for Global Health, more than 5,000 medical students in India have participated in an “HIV Elective” curriculum, focusing on the science behind HIV transmission and led by John Schneider, assistant professor in Medicine and director of Global Health Programs. The elective was established for medical students within the Andhra Pradesh AIDS Consortium, a group of 25 private medical colleges in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society initiative, “Audio Cultures of India: New Approaches to the Performance Archive,” will bring together faculty, students, and staff from the University Library's South Asia Department, Music, Anthropology, the Computational Institute, and Argonne National Laboratory, to explore new methods for using scientific technologies to process large digital humanities databases. This will complement the Library's previous participation in the creation of a collection of early gramophone records in the Roja Muthiah Research Library in Chennai and in the development of the Archive of Indian Music in Bangalore.
“After a century of significant research collaborations between India and Chicago, the Center will provide a focus for building on that legacy in Delhi and throughout the region,” said Gary Tubb, professor in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the faculty director of the Center.
Provost Thomas Rosenbaum recently announced Tubb’s appointment to the three-year post, in which he will work with the UChicago community to develop and oversee the implementation the Center’s academic agenda. Tubb also will lead efforts to foster strong partnerships with Indian and South Asian colleagues, engage area alumni, and establish the Center as a model for international scholarly endeavors.
Creating a 'dynamic global network'
The Center in Delhi represents the University’s long-term commitment to build relationships in India and throughout the region and will be an important addition to UChicago’s international presence. Delhi joins the University’s Center in Beijing, opened in 2010, and the Center in Paris, opened in 2004, in bringing together researchers and students to collaborate across the academic spectrum.
In the three years since it opened, faculty, students, and other scholars from more than 25 countries have visited the Center in Beijing more than 7,000 times. Paris and Beijing have been successful platforms for interdisciplinary conferences, partnerships, meetings, and other activities. Building on the University’s presence in China, work is also underway on a Center in Hong Kong that will house a University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive MBA program as well as other University programs.
Chicago Booth also has campuses in London and Singapore, where UChicago faculty teach in degree–granting programs. The University’s Oriental Institute has a presence in Luxor, Egypt, founded in 1924 and known as “Chicago House,” which documents ancient Egyptian inscriptions and works with Egyptian scholars on conservation, restoration, and site management.
“The University's overseas centers, along with the numerous international activities on campus in Chicago, together create a dynamic global network for joint programming, teaching, and research activities,” said Ian Solomon, vice president for Global Engagement.
Solomon noted that the Center will benefit from and support a large and enthusiastic body of UChicago alumni in India, offering social, professional, and educational opportunities.
The Center in Delhi is a wholly owned foreign enterprise operating under the name of UChicago Center in India Private Limited. The Center in Delhi will not grant degrees.
Originally published on October 28, 2013.