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Edinboro University professor travels to India for ‘21st Century Megacities and Villages’ seminar

07/12/2013

Dennis Hickey, associate professor in Edinboro University’s History, Anthropology & World Languages Department, recently returned from an educational trip to India, where he participated in a 10-day seminar titled “21st Century Megacities and Villages.”

 The trip took Hickey to Mumbai, the most populous city in India and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of more than 18 million. There, he “got to be the student,” he said, enjoying seminars on topics including “Images and Realities of Megacities,” “Finance and Female Empowerment in Urban Development,” “Rural Dynamics Spurring India’s Growing Megacities,” and “Public Health and Healthcare in Mumbai: Opportunities and Issues,” in addition to a look at “Bollywood” and the Indian entertainment industry.

 While his area of expertise is African Studies, Hickey said he became especially interested in India while teaching World Civilizations I at Edinboro. “For me, I call this trip India 101,” he said. “The complexity of the nation is breathtaking. I could go back 20 times to 20 different localities and see something new each time.”

 Among the trip’s many highlights, Hickey said, was an excursion into Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. “It defies the conventional notion of a slum,” he said. “It’s really a beehive of economic activity, of small businesses and determined people trying to make their way out of poverty.”

 The trip was administered through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a nonprofit, nongovernmental exchange organization that promotes international education. For U.S.-based university professors and administrators, CIEE offers faculty development seminars. The courses were held at the Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research.

 Following the academic portion of his trip, which ran June 2-13, Hickey visited several historical sites across the country, including Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, site of the Taj Mahal.

 In addition to the historical impressions he plans to integrate into his classes and a book project he is developing, Hickey said the trip provided a forceful reminder of a basic reality.  “It was really a motivational wakeup call. There are millions who are striving and want to better themselves, and our students are a part of their world. I want them to think in larger terms, to ask broader questions. They’re part of a truly global economy, and they need to be sensitive to the aspirations of others even as they develop the attitude and skills to compete in this arena.”