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UM Strengthens Its India Education Priorities, Partnerships

During the India-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue held June 12, in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Hilary Clinton discussed the importance of growing relationships between the United States and India. The dialogue aimed to encourage vibrant and deep cooperation between the education sectors of the two countries.

The University of Montana recognizes the need to strengthen its relationship with India’s institutions of higher education, faculty and students, and can point to several recent accomplishments and activities:

UM awarded Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative program grant on June 12

During the recent India-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue, Secretary Clinton announced UM as one of the four grant recipients in the inaugural round of the Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative program. The program’s primary purposes are to encourage mutual understanding, educational reform, economic growth and to develop junior faculty.    

The University’s successful $250,000 proposal, “Impacts of Climate Change and Changes in Socio-Economic Structure on Traditional Agriculture and the Development of Sustainable Communities Among Indigenous Populations,” will be carried out in partnership with Bangalore University over the next three years.

UM, Cornell, Rutgers and the University of Michigan were the only U.S. institutions selected this year to receive an initial award.

For more information on UM’s involvement in the Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative call Gerald Fetz, acting director for UM’s Office of International Programs, at 406-243-5201 or email

UM teacher candidates head to South India for student teaching practicum

UM recently established a partnership with Kodaikanal International School in Kodaikanal, India, to afford UM teacher candidates the option of conducting their 16-week, student-teaching practicum at that institution. UM students will begin student teaching at Kodaikanal in spring 2013.

KIS is a boarding school that educates grades P-12. Students and staff from more than 30 countries share in a multicultural residential experience intentionally set within community life. The pupils of this school are diverse in ethnicity, economic status and religious beliefs. KIS combines a challenging academic program with a rich range of extracurricular activities. International baccalaureate and American curricula are offered to about 600 students.

Three UM teacher candidates will join KIS in January, including elementary education major Stephanie Herther from Aberdeen, S.D., and secondary English teacher candidates Ashley Gaumer from Missoula and Rachel Dunn from Monroeville, Ala.

The KIS student-teaching option is just one of the efforts recently undertaken by UM’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences to globalize teacher training.

“Because we live in an interdependent world with a global economy, future teachers must be ready to compete in the global marketplace,” said Nancy Marra, director of the Office of Field Experiences in the College of Education. “The College’s efforts correlate well with UM’s Global Leadership Initiative.”

The initiative aims to provide students across campus the coursework, out-of-classroom experiences, guidance and the support necessary to become leaders for the global century.

For more information on the UM and the KIS partnership, call Marra at 406-243-5581 or email  

UM’s Global Grizzlies will complete a service project in New Delhi, India, this summer

Nine Global Grizzly students will be in New Delhi throughout most of June and into July. They have been placed in volunteer positions that focus on health-related projects. 

As humanitarian ambassadors from UM, Global Grizzlies strive to bring aid to developing countries around the world. Its members also seek to gain invaluable experience outside the classroom.

As in previous years, the intent of this year’s Global Grizzlies trip is for participants to experience a new culture, language and country and also gain a new understanding and compassion for our world.

 “The Global Grizzlies are excited to continue our tradition of service in a country with so much culture, diversity and history,” said Ben Demarois, Global Grizzlies student president. “India is a country we have talked about in the past, but to finally get the chance to volunteer in the country will be a great adventure. Hopefully, UM students will get the chance to change the lives of Indian people, as well as their own.”

The ASUM student organization is based in UM’s Davidson Honors College. For more information about the Global Grizzlies program, call Dean James McKusick at 406-243-2541 or email

UM’s Office of International Programs sends faculty members to India

Five UM faculty members recently received support from UM’s Office of International Programs to conduct activities in India through its International Activity Funding program.

Faculty members submitted applications for funding to engage in short-term collaborative activities overseas. The faculty members chosen for India projects will supervise a UM student’s dissertation work, study and collect information from a film institute archive, attend a conference, conduct research and develop courses and opportunities for students.

“This support from International Programs will enable Curriculum and Instruction to expand opportunities for student teaching in India,” said Matthew Schertz, UM Education College professor. “This is an exciting opportunity for our students, and we look forward to the prospect of collaborating with other International Baccalaureate schools and universities in the world’s largest democracy.”

Traditionally, faculty and staff apply for the International Activity Funding program twice a year — once during spring semester and once during autumn semester.

For more information on the International Activity Funding program or to learn about other ways the Office of International Programs helps foster UM’s relationships with India, call Peter Baker, international program development officer, at 406-243-6142 or email