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Disaster expert from India visits School

Professor Janki Andharia, Ph.D. of the Tata Centre for Disaster Management at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, India visited the UNC School of Social Work April 8-9.

Andharia was invited to the U.S. by the Disaster Management Program at Purdue University to present the keynote address for their major conference focused on utilization of research methods to assist in the logistics of response to major disasters, and was able to extend her trip to UNC to meet with faculty and students.

She is working with social work professors Drs. Gina Chowa and Marie Weil on a chapter for the second edition of “The Handbook of Community Practice,” which Weil is editing. The globally-focused chapter, “Women: Organizing, Development, and Planning” will draw from research and case examples in Africa on asset development programs (Chowa); from India on community organizing (Andharia) and on planning and human rights work (Professor Monica Alzate from the University of Oklahoma, and Weil).

“Dr. Andharia is an eminent scholar with extensive experience and publications in community development and community organization and in disaster management,” said Weil.

She has been a faculty member at TISS for 22 years, after earning advanced degrees in social work in India and her doctorate in environmental studies from the London School of Economics. Andharia is the former department head for Community Development and Community Organization at TISS and helped to develop and served as director for the Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management for a decade.

“Although Professor Andharia’s visit was brief, it has served a major purpose in strengthening our connections with one of the best schools of social work in India,” said Weil.

Andharia met with Rebecca Brigham and Weil to discuss the possibilities of future study abroad visits, student and faculty exchanges, and joint research between TISS and UNC faculty. She is drafting a Memorandum of Understanding describing such plans for Dean Jack Richman to review.

Brigham, who has made two trips to India for the School, is very interested in adding time at TISS and field trips in Mumbai to our study abroad program in India. Andharia was also able to meet with Joanne Caye, who teaches our disaster management courses and is the co-author of “When Their World Falls Apart,” which focuses on disaster response.

“Their meeting was quite productive, and Professor Andharia is interested in having Joanne Caye visit TISS and be involved in joint work,” said Weil.

Andharia was also able to meet with UNC School of Public Health faculty who lead their Disaster Management Continuing Education program. She also met with several students.

The visit and discussions paved the way for our School to extend its educational and research opportunities in India at its leading social science institute.