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India: Gender, Culture, and Development

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Application Deadline

Program Type

  • OHIO Credit

Academic Focus

  • Humanities and Social Sciences


  • India

Program Term

  • Summer

For more information, contact: 

Dr. Brian Collins
Classics and World Religion
210J Ellis Hall |  collinb1@ohio.edu

Office of Global Opportunities



This summer, join Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Classics and World Religions for an amazing program experience at Gawande College in Umarkhed, Maharashtra, India.  Students will have the chance to explore gender in the cultural, religious, and social context of contemporary rural India. This context provides students with an opportunity to think about both the empirical and policy dimensions of conventional development work as well as to confront difficult normative questions about the trajectory and meaning of “development” itself. Exposure to everyday life in Indian villages and visits to unique sites like the Buddhist cave monasteries at Ajanta are a major part of the coursework.   

In collaboration with Gawande College, OHIO students will have the opportunity to meet with local college students and through the service learning portion of the program OHIO students will assist their Indian counterparts with English language learning.  

Gawande College is named after a local Athens family whose support of the institution goes back for decades. The College also has a strong connection to and affinity with OHIO University: some similarities between the two institutions include their relative remoteness to urban centers as well as a commitment to providing educational opportunities to local and first-generation college students.  The rural dimensions of the Athens/Umarkhed experience will provide students with an opportunity to reflect comparatively on the politics of development within nation states as well as in the broader global context. 

Program Focus 

Students will learn about the interconnectedness of Indian religion, society, and history through lectures, readings, and group excursions to some of the most significant religious sites venerated by Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Engaging this kind of religious diversity in context prompts reflection on the range of meanings of secularism and toleration and the central role religion plays in the Indian experience. It also provides a useful lens on questions about the appropriate relationship between religiosity and public life.  

The coursework in religion, culture, and history provides the critical backdrop for an analysis of the meanings, practices, and structures of gender. Much work in the field of development implicitly assumes a western trajectory for economic and social progress and gender emancipation. We will critically engage this literature, asking, “What aspects of western progress translate?” but also, “What local resources (economic, cultural, religious) might offer alternative and more useful conceptualizations of progress and emancipation?”  

Finally, work from these two courses comes together in a service learning experience in which our students team up with Gawande College conversation partners. In the course of providing Indian students with opportunities to refine English speaking skills, our students will engage in a process of in-depth ethnographic interviewing as a way of exploring the lived experiences of gender, religious identity, caste, and class. 

Highlights and Excursions 

Short visits to local mosques, temples, and stupas and day-long excursions to: 

  • Sri Renuka Devi Mandir in Mahur, a temple dedicated to the goddess Renuka 
  • Hazur Sahib in Nanded, one of the five sacred sites of Sikhism 
  • Several Indian villages 
  • Overnight trip to the Buddhist caves of Ahanta and Ellora, UNESCO World Heritage Sites near Aurangabad 

Good to know

  • This program is primarily based in rural India and access to wifi may not be consistent throughout the program.
  • Admission to this program is on a rolling basis, with applications reviewed by the program director as they are received. Early application is strongly recommend.

Living Arrangements 

During most of the program, students will live in shared double rooms in the wi-fi equipped guest house at Gawande College. All meals will be prepared on site by a cook hired for the guest house and filtered water will be provided daily. Students will stay in a hotel during excursions.  

Program Dates 

July 1 - August 1, 2020 

This program is offered annually and typically opens for application by the end of November.

Study Away and COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, participation in study away and abroad involves real and potential personal, financial, and academic risk. The CDC advises that you should delay travel until you are vaccinated. Note that entry to some countries and participation in local program and free-time activities, including in the U.S., may be severely restricted or potentially unavailable to unvaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated travelers should additionally expect to incur extra expenses and onsite logistical challenges due to onsite testing requirements. For further information, contact ogoriskmanagement@ohio.edu


Students will earn a total of 9 credit hours. 

  • WGSS 4900: Gender and Development in Cultural Context (3cr) 
  • WGSS 4900: The Experience of Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective (3cr) 
  • CLWR 4900: Religious Traditions of India (3cr) 

Before departure, students are required to complete the reading for Part I of the WGSS 4900 syllabus and students will meet for a 2-hour seminar to discuss these readings. During spring semester, 2018, there will be a 3-hour orientation to health and safety in rural Maharashtra.

Instruction will take place in the main rooms of the guest house with exception to the final cultural program that will be at the large lecture hall on campus.  


The program fee for this program includes: Student round trip flight with group from Columbus, OH (students are responsible for the cost of transportation to and from Columbus airport), accommodations, most meals, excursions, and international medical health insurance. 

In addition to the program fee, students should plan for 9 credit hours of tuition*, administrative fee, and out-of-pocket costs. Below is the student budget worksheet for this program, which outlines these costs.  

An itemized Student Budget Worksheet will be published when the next travel dates are available.

Items that are not related to the program (ie. additional entertainment, souvenirs, extra travel, contingency funds) are not included in the cost estimates provided and should be budgeted for separately.  


  • Non-resident surcharge waived for the credit hours associated with this program. 
  • If you are nominated to this program, you will be required to pay a deposit to confirm your participation. The deposit is a down payment on the total costs to be billed by OHIO and is determined by the total cost of the program. 

Funding Opportunities

More information on financial aid and scholarships can be found on our funding pages.

Eligibility and Requirements 

The program is open to undergraduate students of all majors who have an interest in the cultural context and development politics of India. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required.  

Students who will be on probation at any point during the program for a conduct offense that took place less than a calendar year from the program start date may not study abroad.  Click here to read the entire conduct policy.

This program accepts NON-OHIO students. For more information about this process visit the Non-OHIO student page.   

Participants must have a at least a high school diploma or the equivalent (e.g. GED) by the start date of the program to be considered for eligibility.  Students enrolled in College Credit Plus (CC+) are not eligible for study away programs.

Entry and Exit Requirements 

U.S. citizens are required to have a valid U.S. passport when traveling outside of the United States. If you plan to study or travel abroad in the next year,  apply for your passport  now. Some countries also require a visa to legally enter or reside in the country.

India also requires a visa to legally enter and reside in the country. Visit the  U.S. Department of State  website to learn about the entry and exit requirements for India. You may need to show sufficient funds to support yourself while in-country. Please also note that visa requirements may vary if you plan to stay in the country longer than the program dates or travel to other countries after the program. Please familiarize yourself with these recommendations and requirements prior to applying for the program 

For more specific visa related information, please visit OGO’s  Visa Information Page 

Information for  Non-U.S. citizens  can be found  here