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Faculty travel to India to internationalize core curriculum

By Barbara Brooks on December 30, 2011

In a bold move to further internationalize Colgate’s Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, 27 faculty members are traveling through India for two weeks. The academic expedition was initiated by faculty and is being funded in part by a $100,000 Mellon Foundation new-president’s grant awarded to President Jeffrey Herbst for his discretionary use.

Faculty members will share their experiences on a blog, Reflections from India, which also will show their daily whereabouts.

“This trip, involving 10 percent of our faculty, represents a significant investment in Colgate’s core curriculum, and also in our colleagues who bring it to life,” said Herbst. “Colgate can be transformed by experiences such as this one, and serve as a model within higher education. There are few colleges and universities in the country which would have the ambition for such a large percentage of their faculty to travel to enhance scholarly perspectives and fewer still who could support such a venture.”

Upon joining Colgate in 2010, Herbst vowed to strengthen the university’s global perspective and invited faculty to propose ways to accomplish that goal.

Led by Eliza Kent, associate professor of religion, and Padma Kaimal, associate professor of art and art history and Asian studies, the structured program, from Dec. 30 to Jan. 13, 2012, will immerse participants in the nation’s culture, history, and environment. Connie Harsh, director of University Studies, the division that includes the Core, envisions that as a result of the 14-day expedition, faculty will expand their understanding of the world and will enrich their Core courses with material they encounter.


The trip involves faculty from across the disciplines: English, environmental studies, biology, psychology, history, religion, philosophy, political science, geography, art and art history, sociology, anthropology, physics, Russian, Jewish studies, Asian studies, romance languages, and educational studies. All participants teach in the core and are committed to its continued relevance to Colgate’s increasingly diverse student body.

Colgate has a history of supporting faculty development and curricular enhancement through carefully designed travel experiences.

In 1986, a trip to Manchester, England, was instrumental in defining the curriculum for the precursor to today’s Modernity course. In 1998, members traveled to Madrid, Granada, and Seville, Spain, to examine the intersections of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish traditions. In 2002, faculty gained a stronger understanding of classical culture through travel to Rome. And trips to East Asia in 2004, 2005, and 2008, sponsored by the Freeman Foundation, supported course development across the curriculum.

Colgate was one of the first liberal arts institutions to offer faculty-led, semester-long international study programs, which continue to be a hallmark of a Colgate education. According to the Institute of International Education’s 2009-2010 data, Colgate is ranked No. 3 nationally among baccalaureate institutions in the number of students who participated in semester-long study abroad programs. The university ranked No. 7 in the total number of students who studied abroad overall, including extended study trips.

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1 Comment



  • Jacqueline O'Neill said:

    My name is Jackie O’Neill and I am a junior at Colgate this year. I just returned from spending my fall semester traveling throughout north India, based in Delhi. I think your going to India is a terrific idea and I hope you get as much out of your time there as I did. When you come back, will the faculty that went be hosting a panel with students on your experience in India and how it will be incorporated into the Core? If so, that would be awesome but if not I would love to hear about what those of you that go have to say about India. The blog is great and I cannot wait to see more! Enjoy!