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J-Term: UVA in India

India in Global History

View the program brochure here.

This January Term course reveals the central role India has played in the long history of globalization, as well as discovering the vast diversity of India’s cultural and environmental heritage. The southern coastal state of Kerala is known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters, a network of canals. Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as wildlife. For millennia, the Malabar Coast of Kerala was directly in the sights of Arabs, Africans and Europeans for the commodities it offered: exotic spices, cashews, rubber and cotton textiles. We will explore the Indian Ocean port of Kochi, discovering the historic role it played in trans-oceanic trade, and its multi-ethnic and religious identity. A day trip to Alleppy will highlight Kerala’s canal culture and the distinctive temple architecture of the state. For the second half of the course, we will spend several days exploring the Munnar Hill Station, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, spectacular waterfalls, a sandalwood forest, as well as tea and spice gardens. An evening will be spent experiencing the colorful dance-drama of Kerala known as Kathakali, which typically draws themes from Indian literary classics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Kerala is a microcosm of India, yet it stands out from the rest of the Indian states for its forward outlook and innovative approaches to education, social welfare, politics and trade. Click here to visit the UVA Education Abroad office website to sign up!



The class will meet in Kochi. We will visit historical and cultural sites around Kochi, with a day trip to Alleppy. The second half of the course will be in Thiruvanathapuram (Trivandrum) and Kanyamukari, with visits planned to the Kuzhipallam Botanical Garden and Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary.


India in Global History
(SAST 3650; 3 credits)
2020 India in Global History Program Schedule

Course Information
This 3-credit course is open to undergraduates in all years, as well as graduate students with instructor’s permission. Students interested in Global Studies, Foreign Affairs, South Asian Studies, Fine Arts, and Environmental Studies will benefit from the course. This course provides a fresh perspective on how to think historically and culturally about globalization. For an introduction to India, this course maxes out on the “India experience,” highlighting culture, history, the environment, unique flora and fauna. For those who have experienced India through exposure to its northern parts, the course offers a great counter-balance to established stereotypes. This inter-disciplinary course will challenge your world-view and offer you alternative ways of thinking about history and culture.

Course Objectives

  • Understand India from an historical and contemporary global perspective
  • Explore how cultural and socio-economic factors have influenced India’s interaction with the West
  • Enhance skills in analyzing culture comparatively and the dynamics of international trade over the longue durée
  • Understand the balancing of economic needs with environmental concerns
  • Experience India’s vibrant arts
  • Observe the politics of Kerala State, a democratically elected communist government
  • Gain an appreciation of the challenges and joys of learning new ways of living, worshipping, working and cuisine


Dr. Mehr Farooqi |
Dr. Richard Cohen |

Faculty in Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures, both Prof. Farooqi and Prof. Cohen are specialists in Indian language, literature and culture, and have guided student groups in India. Prof. Farooqi is deeply interested in bilingualism and multiculturalism, and drawn to translation, literary modernism, intersections between religion and literature, history and art history. She teaches courses on Indian travel writing, South Asian women’s writing, Indian poetry, especially Urdu poetry, literature inspired by the Partition of India, and Dalit literature. Beginning his career as a South Asia specialist, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in India, Prof. Cohen, has administered South Asia programs at four universities. His research specialty is medieval Indian literature. He offers courses on classics of Indian literature, the long history of contact between India, Middle East, East Africa and Europe, and India in current global perspective.

Accommodation and Meals

Housing during the program will be in centrally-located hotels in both Kochi and Trivandrum. Breakfast is included at the hotels each morning of the program


The University of Virginia believes in providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities on an individual basis. Students with limited mobility or specific medical needs should be aware that the program includes an overnight camping in the desert. If you believe that you would require adjustments in order to fully participate in this program, please contact the Student Disability Access Center at 434-243-5180 as early as possible in order to begin this dialogue.

Passport and Visa

All participants will need a valid passport in order to participate in the program. Students must ensure that their passport is valid at least six months past the program return date. US passport holders and students of many other nationalities will need a visa to enter India. Begin researching entry requirements (which may include visa documents, vaccines, and/or other requirements) based on the passport you hold; if accepted into the program, you will need to act quickly. Your Education Abroad Advisor will provide instructions for the Indian visa after commitment.

Note that students of Pakistani origin (not just citizenship) should contact the Education Abroad Advisor for this program as soon as possible as Indian visa processing may take longer for these individuals. Students of Chinese origin should also contact the Education Abroad Advisor. Non-US passport holders should meet with their International Student Advisor in the International Studies Office for information about re-entering the U.S. at the conclusion of the program.

Health and Safety Information

All students considering Education Abroad should consult the Students Abroad section of the U.S. Department of State’s web-based travel resources and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler’s Health web resources to research health, safety, and security conditions; visa requirements; immunization requirements; and recommendations on staying healthy and safe in their target destination(s). Students should also carefully review the UVA Education Abroad Health & Safety Abroad web page. Parents and guardians are strongly advised to review all of these resources, as well. UVA students and visiting students enrolled in UVA Education Abroad programs are subject to the University of Virginia’s Policy on Student International Travel.