WASHINGTON, PA (April 6, 2016) - A new partnership will allow university students from India – a country where liberal arts is an emerging field of study –to learn from Washington & Jefferson College’s (W&J) more than 200-year-old tradition.
W&J will host 28 students and two faculty members from the School of Liberal Studies at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in Gujarat, India from April 3 to 18, enhancing an international partnership that will benefit students from both schools.
“W&J has an increasingly international perspective that allows for a broader expanse of thinking when we look at education and impacting the world,” said Preeti Rajendran, assistant director of international relations at W&J. “Education is powerful and a liberal arts education is inherently international. We have to embrace internationalization because through it we have the power to make this world a better place.”
The visit will provide numerous cultural learning experiences for students from both W&J and PDPU.
While in the United States, PDPU students and faculty accompanied by W&J students, faculty and staff will visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, take in a Pittsburgh Pirates game, and embark on an overnight trip to Washington, D.C. PDPU students also will attend classes and Student Life events at W&J, and will participate in the Pittsburgh Asia Consortium (PAC) Conference on April 9 at the Howard J. Burnett Center on the W&J campus.
Rajendran said India is an emerging market for education and economy, and that, following China, it is the country that sends the second-largest number of students to the United States for higher education opportunities. Liberal arts colleges are rare in India – Rajendran said there are only five – and PDPU is a private university with private funding that had the ability to start a small liberal arts college within its larger university framework.
“India is rapidly opening up to the idea of a liberal arts education, rather than just a strong science and engineering focus in a large-university setting. But the number of trained professors and infrastructure to start liberal arts colleges in India is low and the demand is high,” Rajendran said. “Small colleges like PDPU value a partnership with an established American liberal arts college, because it helps give them more credibility as they introduce the value of a liberal arts education to India.”
Charles Hannon, Ph.D., a W&J professor of computing and information studies, visited India in 2013 for an Institute of International Education conference, and connected with representatives from PDPU at that event. He said students from PDPU already are planning to study at W&J, and he hopes the connection between the two schools continues to grow.
"We would eventually like to see additional areas of collaboration, such as W&J students studying for a semester at PDPU, or W&J faculty collaborating on teaching or research projects,” he said.
Rajendran said the partnership will help W&J continue to build an international network and provide students with a chance to learn from other parts of the world within the W&J campus.
“Through partnerships like this, I hope we create a community that allows people with diverse perspectives to learn together,” she said. “I hope we provide opportunities for students from North America and other countries to be exposed to a variety of thinking, understanding and contexts allowing for conversations that bring us closer together and lessen the divide between us.”
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.
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