Aug. 10, 2022

UCalgary to host new chair in Indian Studies

Faculty of Arts students to get opportunity to increase their cultural understanding of India

A new chair focusing on the history of 20th-century India recognizes a long-standing partnership between the University of Calgary and India, says that country's consul general.

The Department of History at the Faculty of Arts will receive a Chair of Indian Studies after an agreement to bring a visiting chair was signed on behalf of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations by Mr. Manish, Consul General of India in Vancouver, during a visit to UCalgary on June 29.

“The purpose of this partnership is to improve students' understanding of India," says Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura, vice-provost and associate vice-president research (international). 

"UCalgary's ties with India date back more than a decade, and through important partnerships with the consulate, community organizations, institutions and community members, UCalgary has been involved in numerous initiatives over the years and have been able to share experiences and understand each other’s cultures and values. These are key goals in the University’s current Global Engagement Plan, Intercultural Capacity Framework and Commitment to Equity Diversity and Inclusion.”

  • Photo above, from left: Janaka Ruwanpura; Prasad Panda, minister of transportation, Government of Alberta; Mr. Manish; William Ghali, vice-president (research); Richard Sigurdson, dean of arts; Cheryl Dueck, senior academic director (international); and Gavin Cameron, associate dean, internationalization and global initiatives, Faculty of Arts

This Chair will improve global and intercultural capacity within our campus community; UCalgary students will have the opportunity to attend courses taught by the Chair, who will be teaching two undergraduate or graduate courses per semester. The Chair will also jointly organize seminars, forums, roundtables, and a public lecture each semester, and will co-host an annual India Day comprising student- and faculty-led programming on topical issues related to India.

"India and Canada share a long-standing partnership in high education. More than 280,000 Indian students are enrolled in post-secondary education institutions in Canada, contributing significantly to the Canadian higher education system,” says Mr. Manish.

“University of Calgary has been a preferred destination for Indian students for several years and this collaborative model between Indian Council for Cultural Relations and University of Calgary for academic partnership will further strengthen the academic exchanges in the India-Canada education corridor."

UCalgary’s student body is enriched with international students from India and went from 318 undergraduate and graduate students from India in 2017 to 1,169 students in 2021, and that is expected to grow even further. Indian students are active in class and in extracurriculars and have associations and clubs on campus to network and showcase Indian culture.


Mr. Manish, Consul General of India.

Dean of Arts Richard Sigurdson spoke at the event in his last official engagement as dean, and said, “The Faculty of Arts is the largest and most diverse faculty at the university, and we are proud of the growth of knowledge, innovation, and creativity that is made possible through that diversity.

"With UCalgary’s engagement with India increasing, it is very important to expand our expertise on Indian culture and society. This Chair is part of a conscious effort to broaden the perspectives and voices within our faculty and university, and it is part of the work to decolonize the academy.”

The Faculty of Arts has about a dozen scholars across the humanities and social sciences whose research connects directly with India — including in history, classics and religion, English, sociology, international Indigenous studies, and languages, linguistics, literatures and cultures. This Chair, with the support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, will be a terrific boost to the research connections among these scholars and their colleagues in India.

UCalgary has 36 faculty trained in India as of 2021 and in the last five years UCalgary has collaborated with 250-plus institutions and corporations across India and produced more than 500 joint publications. The university also has collaborations with Indian multinational companies including Mphasis and has had joint research with internationally renowned Indian entities Tata Consultancy and the Indian Institutes of Technology.

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was founded in 1950. Its objectives are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs pertaining to India’s external cultural relations; to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries; to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people; and to develop relations with nations. Approved ICCR chair candidates must go through an application process, be younger than 65, have a PhD, have eight to 10 years of teaching experience, and have been working at a central/state university.