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Fellowship Puts Focus on India

Program provides professional development for area K-12 educators

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In an increasingly interconnected world, learning about different societies is critical. And, Bridgewater State University is doing its part. 

BSU partners with the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies and other organizations on an annual fellowship that gives K-12 teachers tools to bring lessons about India’s culture and religions to their classrooms.

“It’s important because we do live in a global society,” said Dr. Robert MacMillan, a BSU special education professor and program coordinator for the fellowship. “We believe in global engagement. This is certainly evidence of that. It’s terribly, terribly important for young people in America as well as older people, as well.”

India is a large, religiously diverse country that is not always well understood in the United States, said Dr. Bal Ram Singh, the fellowship program’s director.

“It will benefit the teacher,” he said of the fellowship. “It will benefit the students and it will benefit society.”

This summer, the annual program brought educators from around the country to Bridgewater State for a week. Participants learned about Indian geography, religion, history, music and dance, and took part in cultural activities. They visited Indian houses of worship in the Boston area to see how the country’s religion and culture came to the United States.  

The fellowship, which was first held in 2010 at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, came to BSU several years ago. Bridgewater stood out for its reputation in training teachers, Dr. Singh said.

“Bridgewater has been very accommodating and helpful,” he said. “I find it very welcoming and we just have a very good time.”

The foundation provided about $12,000 to support this year’s program, which included on-campus housing for participants. Teachers could earn graduate or professional development credit. 

The School of Indic Studies at the Institute of Advanced Sciences and the Center for Indic Studies at UMass-Dartmouth also partnered on the fellowship, which recently expanded to sites outside of Massachusetts. 

“The true goal is for these teachers to bring this back to their classrooms and colleagues in their school building and district,” Dr. MacMillan said. “We’re hoping they will be a resource for disseminating what they have learned.” (Photo by Brian Benson, University News)

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