By: James Holloway, Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Interdisciplinary Academic Affairs
The University of Michigan – "Michigan" for short – has deep connections with India: we have well over 6000 alumni, we have been intellectual home to over 2000 faculty of Indian origin, and this fall we have 849 Indian students on campus.
Last year, some 250 Michigan students engaged in projects and study in India, and 100 of our faculty visited for work and research. Our work ranges from understanding political economy in the Iron age in the Tungabhadra River Valley of South India, to work with Indian public health agencies on the efficacy of Indian measles vaccination programs. With our Indian partners, we engage in studies about prevention of tobacco use by Indian teens, investigations of kidney disease, anemia, trauma treatment, environmental risks and cancer.
Why do we engage? Because it is our mission to do so. Our mission is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future. This mission demands that we come to those places in the world where there are opportunities and challenges and peoples with whom we may learn, while providing new knowledge and energy in return.
That is why we help to build the capacity of Indian institutions of higher education and help to build her research infrastructure. We partner to do work in the arts, in nursing, in policy and microfinance, we are engaged in social science research in partnership with Indian state governments. We engage because India is the world's largest democracy, with huge challenges, huge capacities, and huge opportunities. By engaging in India, we discover new ideas and new challenges within the human community, and working with our partners we jointly create new ways to address those challenges.
This work also allows our students to learn, not just facts or ideas, but also to be agents of change who can affect the world in positive ways through effective action executed in collaboration with local communities and stakeholders. This work allows our faculty to grow and discover new knowledge that can benefit India, and the wider world as well.
We help Indian companies solve unique business challenges while our students practice the ideas developed in their business education through projects at our Ross School of Business. Our students from the College of Engineering support work with an Indian partner foundation that is empowering women in villages, strengthening their family relationships and networks, improving their health, and creating an income stream – all through the redesign of the chulah on which they cook their roti.
We engage in transparent and long-term partnership with Indian institutions, with the aim to be the best international partner they can have. We never seek to complete, but rather to engage in reciprocal relationships that allow us to accomplish something unique together that couldn't be done alone. Engaging with India brings unique perspectives and knowledge that benefits India and benefits Michigan.