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SPEA forms Indian partnership


By Chloe Kent




Last month, IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding with the Administrative Staff College of India in Hyderabad, India, which means big things are on the horizon for both the University and its new Indian affiliate.

However, if the word “college” conjures images of tailgates and dormitories, think again.

“It’s not really a college in the traditional sense of the word,” said Sumit Ganguly, professor of political science who also holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at IU. “The ASCI is an organization run by the government of India that trains bureaucrats for higher levels in the Indian civil service.”

Ganguly said he thinks this partnership is important for both sides.

“IU and ASCI stands to benefit through these collaborations, through exchanges of students and faculty and through common projects that can be run together,” he said. “We’re really at the beginning of this enterprise, but the first step was the signing of this memorandum of understanding, which provides a legal and institutional basis
for collaboration.”

SPEA professor and Executive Associate Dean David Reingold outlined four main objectives of the partnership.

The first is to develop opportunities to exchange faculty and other personnel across the two organizations. The second is to organize a program on public policy for Indian
civil servants.

“The idea is to hopefully create a number of opportunities for mid-career civil servants to come to IU and take some classes on things like cost-benefit analysis and program evaluation and some other policy analysis kinds of classes, and then perhaps do some sort of externship,” Reingold said.

The third area of collaboration the initiative hopes to get off the ground is the organization of a joint conference on the management of global cities. The event will likely take place next year, but neither a date nor place will be confirmed until mid-August.

The final objective, Reingold explained, is finding a way to deliver the online MPA as a professional development opportunity for high-achieving mid-career Indian civil servants through an initiative called SPEA Connect.

Along with Dean Reingold, IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and others accompanied President McRobbie on his trip to India in spring as part of the president’s vision of engaging educational and government-run institutions in India, for the benefit of both sides.

During the visit, the group had an introductory meeting with ASCI Director General Siripurapu K. Rao to begin discussions.

“It was through that conversation that we were able to essentially be the first Western university to partner like this with ASCI,” Reingold said, calling the visit “instrumental” in forging the partnership.

While a first for SPEA, this is not the only tie the University has with the country.
As Zaret pointed out, “We have almost 800 Indian students who are working towards undergraduate and graduate degrees on Indiana University state campuses. We have well over 2,000 alumni who are Indian citizens. We have many faculty who are of Indian ancestry. These are important connections, and we’re working on connections elsewhere in India.”

Both Zaret and Reingold emphasized that the agreement can extend beyond SPEA.

“Specialized projects are still in the works,” Reingold said. “We just got the
agreement signed last month, and it’s going to take a little bit of time for those projects to emerge, but they will. I think there is great potential for this program to expand to other parts of the University, to other schools. The initial faculty exchange and the jointly organized conferences are intended as first steps that will lay the basis for more collaboration and more exchanges.”

Because the academic activities at ASCI are concentrated almost entirely at the graduate and post-graduate levels, the possible implications for undergraduate students are not immediately clear.

However, SPEA remains open to plans for expansion to undergraduate students in the future as a longer-term goal. In the meantime, the University will continue to pursue alliances in India and across the globe.

“We have about 32 priority countries in the world on which we are concentrating our efforts,” Zaret said, citing China, Turkey, South Korea, Ghana, Kenya and Brazil as examples. “We’re looking to forge agreements with top-notch institutions that create more opportunities for faculty and students. All 32 of our priority countries are important, but the connection to India is indeed special.”

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