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School signs collaboration agreement with institute in India

The School of Social Work is once again partnering with an international institution in an effort to increase opportunities for joint research and teaching.
The School recently signed a five-year “memorandum of understanding (MOU)” with the Centre for Studies in Rural Development, Institute of Social Work and Research in Ahmednagar, India. The Centre, which is affiliated with the University of Pune, established a relationship with the School three years ago, having served as a host to UNC students, faculty, and others as part of a study abroad program.

That program generated interest in other ways the two educational institutions could work together, said Rebecca Brigham, director of the School’s Field Education Program and a study abroad leader.

“This MOU creates a formal affiliation between our school and the Centre. It creates an official partnership so that we can explore mutually beneficial opportunities.”

This latest collaboration is the second such alliance with an academic institution in India and joins other partnerships that the School has formed over the past five years with universities in China and Sweden. The joint efforts enable faculty members from the participating universities to work together on research, grants, and other projects; encourage student and faculty exchanges; and promote training and related activities.

Visiting scholar Suresh Pathare, a professor and director of the Centre for Studies in Rural Development, has been helping the School explore possible exchange ideas. Pathare, who arrived at UNC about six months ago, is working on a systematic review of food security issues in the United States and India. He will remain at the School until the end of the month.

“It’s been terrific having him here because now that relationship with the Centre is cemented,” Brigham said.

Ultimately, every alliance that the School forms with an international partner helps to “broaden students’ and faculty thinking,” she added.

“We have much to learn from other countries about how they address social problems,” Brigham said. “Also, our students are thinking about their role in the world and how their own world view is formed.  International relationships help our students understand how they may need to change their personal perspective in order to work with individuals, families, and communities that are different than what they have personally experienced.”