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Rich opportunities coming in December

The School of Public Service offers back-to-back study abroad programs just before the December holidays to India — a colorful, beautiful, massive and diverse country that provides opportunities for first-hand learning opportunities in the areas of poverty, urban policy, women’s empowerment, sustainability and climate change. 

On Dec. 12-17, SPS teams up with the Watershed Organization Trust, an award-winning nonprofit operating in six Indian states, for a six-day program in India’s west-central state of Maharashtra. 

On Dec. 18-23, the DePaul Institute of Science and Technology hosts a six-day program in the southern state of Kerala. 

The trips build on relationships that SPS has established in India since 2004, the year of its first program there. 

As the world’s largest and most diverse democracy, India “provides rich opportunities for students to learn about international public service management, leadership and policy challenges and opportunities around sustainable development in rural and urban areas,” said Ron Fernandes, director of the Kerala program and assistant director of SPS. 

The Maharashtra program gives students hands-on experiences with successful sustainable development programs and gives them the opportunity to stay and interact with the beneficiaries of these programs. 

The program demonstrates the way in which the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR) works to address poverty, through self-help capacities of people and groups to regenerate the eco-spaces in which they live. 

WOTR, winner of 2009 Kyoto World Water Prize, emphasizes sustainable development and climate change adaptation programs and is among India’s largest nonprofit organizations in these areas. 

The program includes visits to WOTR’s headquarters in Pune; WOTR’s training center in Darewadi village, site of its first watershed development project; and an Indian village, where students will spend four days as guests in the homes of residents. The trip includes interactions with local development and social service organizations. 

Students from past programs mention the warm hospitality they received from their village hosts and the rich opportunities to learn from successful and cutting-edge development programs. 

For more information on the 2016 Maharashtra program, contact program director Ramya Ramanath. 

The Kerala program enables students to learn about rural and urban policy initiatives, especially related to women’s empowerment through microcredit and microenterprise programs, plus through participation in grassroots political institutions. 

The program includes an international conference that the DePaul Institute of Science and Technology (DIST) will host on “The Triple Bottom Line for Sustainability: The Roles of Government, Corporate and the Non-Profit Sector.” 

Students will participate and present at this conference as part of the program. Students in the Kerala program have valued the close friendships they formed with DIST graduate students and through cultural exchanges. 

For more information on the 2016 Kerala program, contact program director Fernandes. 

“India is predicted to become the largest country in the world in terms of population, surpassing China, by 2023,” Fernandes said. “Understanding India is key to accomplishing the agenda for sustainable development and the landmark Climate Change Agreement.”