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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)October 3, 2003

(Mahwah) – Indian culture, peace and development are the focus of a new semester-long study abroad program in south India offered by Ramapo College of New Jersey. The five-course, 16-credit program will explore the historical transformations initiated by the nationalist reforming leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and the leader of the Untouchable castes, B.R. Ambedkar, and will trace the ongoing influences of these reformers in contemporary Indian society and social movements.

Students in the program, which runs from January 7 to April 21, 2004, will stay in a secular and inter-religious Fireflies Ashram just outside of Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of south India. The cost for the semester, including airfare, room and board, and excursions, is comparable to the cost of an on-campus semester at Ramapo. Bangalore is called the air-conditioned city” because it sustains a moderate temperature due to its altitude. As the fastest growing city in South Asia, it also provides a world-class faculty of professors, artists and activists who come to Fireflies.

The Ramapo spring semester in South India will offer general education courses as well as required courses for sociology, environmental studies and other majors. Also included are excursions to Trivandrum, Kerala (staying at the Centre for Development Studies) and to Madurai, Talmil Nadu (visiting the Institute of Social Analysis), as well as Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and other cultural and historical sites.

Fireflies Ashram and the Pipal Tree organization located there offer innovative new programs inspired by Gandhi that foster social and political transformations in the villages and urban communities around Bangalore. These programs are based on re-interpreting India’s cultural and religious traditions and promote Gandhi’s idea of village republics where development is seen as emerging from below, rooted in the re-interpreted cultures of the people. These programs involve renewed eco-spirituality practices and re-interpreting festivals and religious practice to incorporate the dimensions of personal growth, compassionate action and connectedness with nature.

The communities involved are often subsistence communities, and there is an attempt to create appropriate conditions for their empowerment and put them in touch with other processes of learning. Ramapo students will conduct independent study projects in these networks that record the process and results of these Gandhian experiments in peaceful social and economic transformations.

Indian society is one of the oldest in the world and has been home to many diverse social philosophies and cultural practices. Major religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism emerged in India and the second largest Muslim population is also found there. This old and complex society has stepped into the 21st century retaining cultural institutions from these past eras. Alongside sophisticated software industries and nuclear power plants, one finds caste struggles, dowry deaths and religious figures teaching meditation and yoga.

The cost for the spring semester in south India is $6,900 for Ramapo College students and $8,900 for non-Ramapo students. For more information, contact the Ramapo College Office of Study Abroad, 201.684.7030 or Dr. Joseph Dallon, director of Study Abroad, at 201.684.7730 or globaled@ramapo.edu.

Ramapo College also sponsors a semester-long program in London and will soon initiate one in Australia. The College’s short-term (two to four weeks), affordable study abroad opportunities run in January and in the summer to China, Costa Rica, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Jamaica, London, Prague, Puerto Rico and South Africa.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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