- Fall: May 1
- Spring: November 1
About Contemporary India
Explore the unique issues facing the world's largest democracy as a multi-cultural society and rising superpower. Courses span from social justice to development economics and intensive field-based and experiential opportunities such as research, internships and film making are part of the immersive experience. Improve your critical language skills by enrolling in a Hindi elective course to connect with nearly 500 million Hindi speakers globally. Plus, you will live in a homestay to become part of an Indian family's life and traditions.
Contemporary India Benefits
- The Fund for Education Abroad offers semester and summer awards for study abroad in India. Click here to find out more.
- Don’t just study contemporary India – live it! Immerse yourself in Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra, with a thriving university scene and active development community leading the next generation of Indian innovation
- Make lasting connections in your host community by living with Indian families and learning Indian customs that might be difficult to experience in any other way
- Take advantage of our centrally-located program center at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics for easy access to nearby shops, restaurants, entertainment and transportation throughout the city
- Gain valuable field-work experience and boost your resume by participating in an internship, directed research, or documentary film project
What our students say
How to Make Your Dollars Stretch In India
What Every Woman Studying Abroad in India Needs to Know
Why STEM Students Should Consider a Non-STEM Program
How My STEM Internship in India Jumpstarted My Career
Achieving Goals and Discovering Myself in India
Being Sick in India
Culture Shock in India: How to Survive in a Country of 1.3 Billion People
Some Things to Keep in mind When Being Queer in India
Artist Abroad – A Digital Story
Eyes of India – A Digital Story
Food, Temples and Cake: My First Five days in India
India is Real!
Easy is Boring, And India is Anything but Boring.
मैं एक दिन सुंदर बोलता हुँ (me talk pretty one day)
Turning 21 in India: A Tale Beyond the Cake – A Digital Story
Grieving on the Other Side of the World
The IFSA Difference
Academics at Contemporary India
- Contemporary India (3 U.S. semester credit hours): A political, historical, and social survey of post-Independence India as a complex yet unified multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, religiously pluralistic democracy and rising major global power, this core course gives students the ability to understand current events they see around them, contextualized within a historical framework. Topics include: colonialism, nationalism, and independence; Gandhi, social activism and the 1960s; gender and caste; 20th century literary, religious and philosophical movements; and recent history from 1990 to the present.
- Internship or Directed Research or Documentary Film (3 U.S. semester credit hours): Students are matched with internship and research placements based upon academic interests articulated during the application and pre-departure process. Internships require students to thoughtfully and critically integrate the academic, experiential, and professional within an organizational context, whereas directed research involves a formal research project carried out within an organization, a library, or the field. Documentary film allows students to conduct and present research through a visual rather than a written medium, working closely with faculty and students at the Film and Television Institute of India. Conducted under close academic supervision, all field components involve a minimum of 150 contact hours and entail a final paper or project with accompanying presentation. For more detailed information and examples of previous student placements, contact the program advisor.
ELECTIVE COURSES At least one elective must be directly related to the student's internship, directed research, or documentary film. Not all electives may be offered in a given semester depending on enrollment and faculty availability, and all are 3 US Semester Credit Hours each.
- Beginning Hindi or Intermediate Hindi: Fundamentals of conversation and written Hindi for beginning or intermediate students.
- Gender and Indian Media: From Hindu mythology to the pages of Bollywood gossip magazines, Indian womanhood has been a constantly-evolving site for the mapping of cultural norms, desires and anxieties. The simultaneous exaltation and oppression of femininity is both reinforced and contested in the mass media - a key tool of communication in a diverse and complex democracy. Through critical exploration of gender in Indian film, theatre, television, and advertising, this course addresses timely and relevant questions relating to women's issues in contemporary India.
- Development Economics: The Indian economy serves as a complex, fascinating example of high technology, expanding trade, vibrant entrepreneurship, and a highly-skilled workforce, co-existing in sometimes tenuous balance with widespread poverty, social inequality, and critical gaps in health care, education, and infrastructure. This course explores how India is seeking to address and reconcile these disparities, focusing on technological change, political economy, trade, social entrepreneurship and microfinance, and international aid as they are managed and applied within contemporary India.
- Social Entrepreneurship and Interventions: Rapidly changing social landscapes have given way to a greater convergence of government and nonprofit organization efforts in ensuring a better quality of life for their citizens. The increasing importance of professional approaches towards socially relevant enterprises in key areas such as health, nutrition, education, and income generation makes an understanding of social entrepreneurship today vital. Students develop an understanding of the conceptual frameworks necessary for social entrepreneurship and the common challenges social entrepreneurs face.
- Public Health: India faces unique and daunting challenges in the area of public health, battling malnutrition, infectious disease, and high infant mortality. This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to public health in India, incorporating policy development, gender issues, social justice, health economics, epidemiology, behavioral sciences, and health services management. Students interrogate how social, political, and economic factors facilitate or mitigate the production and transmission of disease, and evaluate ethical and practical consequences of policy and scientific initiatives.
- Social Justice: Social justice movements in India may be most widely known through the iconic figures of Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar, but there is a rich and diverse tradition of Indian social justice theory and action dating from the British Raj era to modern Dalit, tribal, and women's movements. This course offers students an overview of social justice thought and activism in India, evolving through nationalism and the freedom struggle, 20th-century political and social movements, and contemporary economic, caste, and gender disparities.
- Exploring Community & Culture in a Global Context:Through a creative asynchronous online format, this course facilitates active engagement with your host community, exploration of cultural identity and examination of diversity in the context of political, economic and sociocultural structures. Students cover topics such as intercultural communication skills, intercultural learning theories, tools for intercultural analysis and the development of personal strategies for engaging with differences of any kind following the study abroad experience. This course is ideal for students seeking transferable skills and specific competencies for success in the global marketplace. Depending on your chosen IFSA program, this course may be taken as a part of or in addition to your full credit load. Home institution approval is required for enrollment.
In Pune, students have the opportunity to participate in a full-time, four-week internship to fulfill their field component requirement. Interns are placed in Indian, joint-venture, or foreign-owned non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies working in the fields of microfinance, business, women's rights, education, environmental protection, public health and civic engagement. The placement process begins with the submission of the Field Component Intent Form upon acceptance into the program. Please consider your internship interests carefully while filling out this form, as it is not possible for changes in placement to be made in Pune. Placements are typically finalized after students arrive in India.
IFSA makes every effort to place student interns at companies or organizations that match the organization's needs with what each student brings to the table in their stated area of academic and professional interest. Applicants are encouraged to be flexible. Internships may include opportunities to:
- Prepare market research reports to inform expansion of client base and attend subsequent outreach events
- Evaluate microfinance products and services, including financial literacy, micro-loans and micro-health insurance
- Analyze data focused on air and waste pollution to create environmental education modules
- Support women’s empowerment seminars on a number of family issues such as immunizations, hygiene, and family planning
- Assist with developing and testing software and other technologies with Indian IT companies
- Assess compliance of police stations with India’s rape policies; develop training and policies on sexual harassment with local advocates
Students who choose to pursue directed research as their field component are paired with a faculty member appropriate to their academic area of interest, such as performing arts, journalism, tribal, environmental or women's issues, public health, or text-based historical research, and are expected to produce a formal research paper. Research students have regular meetings with faculty guides in their subject area to discuss the formation and execution of their research plans. All directed research projects are subject to the interest and availability of faculty and may require prior relevant coursework.
The documentary film option for the field component allows students to conduct and present research through a visual rather than written medium. Working closely with a faculty member who is also a film director, as well as students from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), IFSA students are trained in the art and technique of documentary filmmaking, and are expected to produce a short film on their selected subject area. For all majors; no film background is required. Students must provide their own digital video cameras.
- Dr. Ashish Kulkarni (Contemporary India; Development Economics)
- Dr. Veena Joshi (Internship; Directed Research)
- Prof. Milind Damle (Documentary Film)
- Dr. Hemant Apte (Public Health)
- Dr. Medha Kotwal Lele (Social Justice)
- Dr. Ajay Joshi (Gender and Indian Media)
- Prof. Sunila Gondhalekar (Beginning Hindi)
Housing & Meals
Arrangements for meals vary among housing placements. Indian cuisine is generally vegetarian, though some meat dishes are available in Pune. Breakfasts on weekdays are provided at the IFSA program center, lunches are eaten out, and dinner is served at home.
Host Families may be a large extended family, an older couple with children living abroad or a nuclear family. They will likely speak Marathi, English and some Hindi
The IFSA Team
IFSA has a dedicated team who are here to help you prepare to achieve your goals. Feel free to reach out. We are happy to answer your questions!