Based in New Delhi, the United States-India Education Foundation administers the Fulbright Program for India, offers a few other educational grants, and provides Indian students advice on American universities. These are the important bricks and mortar of international education exchange.
But USIEF does more. And this is where things get interesting. Their Office of US-India Higher Education Cooperation (USIHEC, established by the US State Department) does just what the name implies; USIHEC links colleges and universities between the two countries and maintains records of these partnerships.
In terms of international development, it gets even more interesting! In 2011, USIHEC has funded research on how India can build vocational and technical education through a U.S. community college model. Montgomery College in Maryland carried out – is carrying out? – the study, and they’ve established this website on the project (although no results are easily accessible). However, I did locate this article which states that Montgomery College will sign an MOU to “share its expertise in curricula, pedagogy, and learning environments. The partnership will train India’s trainers who will, in turn, prepare India’s burgeoning population for careers in today’s global, knowledge economy.”
And hot off the press, USIEF has a new opportunity, the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Awards. These are funds for U.S. and Indian universities to promote the program’s goals of “encouraging mutual understanding, facilitating educational reform, fostering economic development, and engaging civil society through academic cooperation with Indian post secondary educational institutions.” The RFP is here.
The program is for seven key international development fields: energy, sustainable development, climate change, environmental studies, education and educational reform, public health, and community development. How is the academic cooperation going to work? How will expertise be shared? The answers to these questions, from the website:
Exchange activities may include but are not limited to curriculum design, research collaboration, team teaching, focused series of exchanges, seminars, among other activities. Activities should be designed to develop expertise, advance scholarship and teaching, and promote reliable, long-term communication between partner institutions.
Eight partnerships were funded in 2012. Grants are for 3 years, so I imagine it will be awhile until we hear concrete results. I look forward to seeing what tangible impact is made – both within the participating universities and outside those ivory towers.