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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    New Programs Added to India Studies

    Ten years later, Stony Brook University’s Center for India Studies advocates its mission and goals with a stronger voice than ever before. The Center and its various programs were first conceived in 1995 by Club India, whose current counterpart is Club SASA or the South Asian Student Alliance. Encouraged by a petition signed by approximately 700 students and presented to President Shirley Strum Kenny, the Center for India Studies was realized on April 26, 1997. Since then, it has helped shift a predominantly Western and Eurocentric perspective and focus at the University and now seeks ‘to promote a better appreciation of Indian thought, culture, and civilization by developing expertise and resources for studying India for the benefit of the university and the community.’
    The Center for India Studies is a multidimensional umbrella term for primarily the group of academic programs, performing arts series, library, and multimedia center. It is similar to but differs from many other universities and colleges’ own related Center and Departments. Other such programs include University of Texas at Austin’s South Asia Institute, University of California at Berkeley’s Center for South Asia Studies, Columbia University’s Southern Asian Institute at the School of International and Public Affairs and Harvard University’s Department of Sanskrit and India Studies. SBU’s Center presents a library and multimedia center, located in E 5350 Melville Library, that contains over 8,000 titles.
    Other tasks the Center carries out include forming international conferences and symposiums, serving as a resource for media, government, and public outlets on all related India Studies and South Asian Studies topics. Permanent and adjunct faculty lead the Center’s academic programs, research projects, educational outreach, and study abroad program. As part of the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, the Center offers over thirty courses every semester.
    Students can select to major in Asian Studies with a concentration on South Asia that requires a completion of 42 credits or choose to minor in South Asian Studies instead that needs 21 credits for completion.
    The Study Abroad program that the Center also sponsors is a five to six week program in Bangalore, India. Up to 12 credits can be taken abroad and typically include Diversified Education Curriculum (DEC) courses in the arts, political science, humanities, and language, all with a South Asian focus. Courses such as Introduction to the Civilization of the Indian Subcontinent (AAS 201-J), taught by Professor Shikaripur N. Sridhar and Literature of India (AAS 320-G), taught by Narayan Hegde that were once offered under a South Asian Studies Department (SAS) remain as requirements for students in the program.
    The newest classes being offered this year include Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (AAS 391.02), taught by visiting instructor David Kittay, Professor Harsh Bhasin’s Roots of Modern Iraq and Mesopotamian Civilization and more Sanskrit courses on both the Elementary and Intermediate levels (SKT 111, 112 and 211) and planned Advanced Sanskrit tutorials taught by Professor Andrew J. Nicholson and Dr. Laxmi Swaminathan.
    Funding and supporting faculty and departments also continue to teach the rest of the curriculum with courses in Art, Dance, Hindu Studies, History, International Relations, Linguistics, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Theater.
    Aside from university funding, the Center for India Studies primarily fund raises through its own Annual Benefit Dinners and receives private donations to its permanent Endowment Fund. About $60-80k every year is generated and the Endowment Fund, which aims to make the Center self-dependent has a $2 million goal, of which $370,000 has already been met. The Center’s educational outreach spans the New York area, from Long Island school and colleges to museums, public libraries, and through the public television program The Asian Indians in America, produced by WLIW New York.

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