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Ashoka University collaborates with Northeastern University to offer a summer course

The Office of Global Education and Strategic programmes (GESP) in collaboration with Northeastern University, USA offered a summer seminar, Ethnographic Field Experience conducted by Prof. Liza Weinstein to students majoring in Sociology and Anthropology (SOA) at Ashoka University.

Ashoka Staff

14 September, 2021 | 5m read

The Office of Global Education and Strategic programmes (GESP) in collaboration with Northeastern University, USA offered a summer seminar, Ethnographic Field Experience conducted by Prof. Liza Weinstein to students majoring in Sociology and Anthropology (SOA) at Ashoka University. Of the SOA students, who applied for this unique opportunity, 9 students were selected to participate remotely of which 6 completed the full length of the virtual seminar.

The 7-week course met on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the Ashoka students participating only on Thursdays. Dr. Weinstein organized two streams for the two days to be fully autonomous so that the Ashoka students joining on Thursdays could fully participate in that part of the course. It was certainly a collaborative learning opportunity. This course was not-for-credit for Ashoka students who will receive a letter of participation signed by both institutions, Ashoka and Northeastern University.

“This has been very exciting for us at Ashoka. Having been in conversation with Northeastern for over two years it was great to be able to offer this virtual opportunity to our students. Based on this pilot summer course we look forward to building deeper relations with Northeastern University in the coming year,” Vanita Shastri, Dean of Global Education and Strategic Programmes.

Durba Chattaraj, a faculty who facilitated the course at Ashoka said, “This informal, unique seminar brought together students from Ashoka and Northeastern to discuss questions that lie at the very heart of anthropology, in a richly discussion-based online setting. The format was imagined as a more informal space for learning and dialogue.”

Dr. Weinstein described the course as follows, “Over the shortened summer term, the Northeastern and Ashoka students meet weekly to discuss the ethics of ethnographic research and representation. They read and discussed classical texts and current literature, while also bringing in their varied research experiences to reflect collaboratively on questions including: what it means to.

Be an insider or outsider ethnographer, how to collaborate with communities throughout the research process, and how to acknowledge and address their positionality as researchers throughout the research and writing process. Using digital communication tools, including Zoom breakout rooms, they were able to have deep conversations on these topics that drew on their cultural backgrounds and geographic and institutional locations, and learn from peers on the other side of the world.”

Vernica Gupta, a 4th year student at Ashoka had this to say about the course, “Professor Weinstein’s class was a great experience! Despite having two distinct student cohorts positioned at opposing poles of the world…. the interactions between students from Ashoka and Northeastern were seamless and very eventful. We had productive debates on ethics and the methods of anthropology, and long discussions about pedagogical and practical differences in teaching and doing ethnography in India. This was an amazing opportunity to connect with our peers across the world and learn in a global classroom. Professor Liza was great at generating discussion, and gave us many many opportunities to closely collaborate with our American counterparts in closed one-on-one discussions, not only about the course but also comparing general academic life in our two countries.”

“The Ethnographic Research Seminar at Northeastern University was an enriching experience… It offered the chance to engage with multiple views and to understand how differently field sites are constructed and studied across geographies,” said Aishwarya Sunaad a 3rd third-year student at Ashoka who also took the course

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