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About Us

Traditionally, an initiative is developed as a collaboration between individuals to address a problem, in this case awareness of South Asian Culture. The India Collaborative includes faculty and administrators dedicated to this initiative’s mission and values. The result being more awareness of South Asian cultures and greater inclusivity for students on campus.

Our Mission and Vision

The mission of the India Collaborative is to promote curricula, programs, and events around the topic of India and South Asia (at home or abroad) as well as connect JMU students, faculty, and staff to the rich and complex heritage of this part of the world.

We hope to strengthen our partnerships with on-campus clubs and organizations, as well as increase student involvement and awareness of the India Collaborative at JMU.

For more information, please contact Felix Wang at

Emily Akerson Carol Lena Miller
Terry Beitzel Debali Mookerjea-Leonard
Edward Brantmeier Steve Purcell
Liam Buckley Ayasakanta Rout
Laura Desportes Erika Sawin
Jason Good Craig Shealy
Lincoln Gray Anne Stewart
Shah Hanifi Louise Temple-Rosebrook
Spencer Leonard Bisi Velayudhan
Smita Mathur Felix Wang
Jaclyn Michael
JMU On-Campus Organizations
  • Bhangra Dance Club: Bhangra is JMU student organization that performs the traditional Indian dance from the Punjab region of South Asia and incorporates Western musical technology and visual sensibilities.
  • South Asian Student Association (SASA): The organization’s purpose is to spread awareness of South Asian cultures and histories at JMU and provide a platform to raise funds to support poor families in South Asia.
  • Indian Student Organization: The purpose of this organization is to create awareness about Indian culture in a manner that genuinely represents the diversity and growth while disproving false stereotypes. To achieve these results the organization will hold events, including fundraising events for Indian non-profit organizations, and assist incoming international students from India who are having a difficult time adjusting to life in Harrisonburg.
  • Gandhi Center: The Gandhi Center is an organization within the Justice Studies Department at JMU that works to promote justice and nonviolence through education, scholarship, and engagement. It hosts a variety of programs aimed at involving faculty, staff, students, as well as the local and international communities in receiving and spreading Indian values of non-violence through learning and community engagement.
Academic Highlights
  • Dr. Debali Mookerjea-Leonard’s research focuses on Indian literature, cinema, and gender. She is an associate professor in JMU’s English department and is the coordinator of the World Literature minor.
  • Dr. Liam Buckley, a cultural Anthropology professor in JMU’s Sociology and Anthropology department, specializes in ethnographic methods and visual Anthropology. He conducts some of his research in India.
  • Dr. Sushil Mittal is a Religion professor at JMU. Trained in cultural anthropology, he teaches classes about Hindu religion and Gandhian thought. Some of his publications include Development and Change in India and Surprising Bedfellows: Hindus and Muslims in Medieval and Early Modern India.
  • Dr. Shah Mahmoud Hanifi studies the Middle East, primarily Afghanistan, in JMU’s history department. He also conducts comparative studies regarding the overlapping histories of the Middle East and South Asia. Dr. Hanifi hosted the 2017 Elphinstone Conference in Mumbai, India (see below).
Study at JMU
  • Asian Studies Minor: The Asian Studies minor is an interdisciplinary minor at JMU focusing on world regions including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kashmir, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The program aims for students to gain a broad, inclusive sense of South Asia and the surrounding region that transcends national, religious, and ethnic boundaries.
  • Religious Studies: Track One, Eastern Traditions: The Philosophy and Religions department at JMU offers four tracks in Religious studies. The first being Eastern Traditions. This concentration focuses on exploring Gandhian thought, Hindu & Buddhist traditions, East Asian religion, and Islam in South Asia. The other three tracks are Western Traditions, Biblical Studies and Theology, and Religion & Society.
Study Abroad Programs

Students can study abroad in India through JMU’s external exchange and internship programs. Please contact the Center for Global Engagement or visit their program page for more information.

International Organizations and Conferences
  • Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC): CAORC is a group of organizations that includes the American Institute of India Studies (AIIS)and the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS). These organizations provide support for international research projects that focus on conserving and recording cultural heritage, as well as understanding and interpreting modern societies. CAORC and AIAS provided support for the JMU-organized Elphinstone Conference
  • Elphinstone Conference: In April 2017, JMU History Professor Shah Hanifi hosted a highly successful working conference in Mumbai, India. At Elphinstone College. The conference hosted many local and international scholars as they explored the works and significance of The Hon Mountstuart Elphinstone FRSE, who was a Scottish statesman and historian. Associated with the government of India (he eventually became governor of Bombay), Mountstuart Elphinstone opened several educational institutions.
Past Events

Visiting Scholars from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
Monday, November 7, 2016, 4-5:30 p.m.
College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Building, Room 5040
Speakers: Professor Aprana Joshi & Professor Konantambigi
Professor Joshi addressed the unserved mental health needs in India, as well as the role of psycho-social telephone counseling services in the context of community mental health. Professor Konantambigi described the values that influence the challenges faced by children living in urban and rural India, including “street children,” as well as children and teens in institutions.

Erika Sawin: Teaching in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar
Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 12:30-2 p.m.
Student Success Center, Room 1075
Speaker: Erika Metzler Sawin
After spending six months in Puducherry, India teaching nursing and public health at the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Erika came to JMU to share her experiences (including living with her family, teaching, and forming relationships with her JIPMER colleagues). She also described how the experience of being a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar affected her life both professionally and personally.

Organized and hosted by JMU’s Gandhi Center, this music festival seeks to educate festival goers about India’s turbulent history, as well as acknowledge contemporary issues regarding peace and non-violence.

Each year the Indian Student Organization (ISO) brings Holi from India to JMU by hosting the festival (typically on the Hillside Lawn). See their Facebook page for more details.

Other Resources

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