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India, Cultural Program


How does communication work in practice when local government bodies, civil-society actors and NGOs put together sustainable development initiatives? How can such communication be improved? By cutting across disciplines, the Sustainable Development Practicum allows students to witness individuals, groups and communities in collaboration – and sometimes conflict – in the context of a South Asian country marked by the 2004 tsunami.

We’re not importing development. We’re studying, examining and participating in the development that’s already happening there.

Professor Charles Talcott The American University of Paris

The Sustainable Development Practicum, which takes place in the UNESCO-recognized township of Auroville near the vibrant South Indian seaside town of Pondicherry, is a unique intensive field course. Classes in sustainable development and development communications are combined with site visits and opportunities to pursue internship or volunteer experiences with NGOs. Students work on media and communications projects for local organizations committed to social, cultural and economic development in both urban and rural communities.

The annual trip to Auroville, one of the University’s longest running study trips, functions as a month-long practical exploration of the themes that students discuss in class. It revolves around practical communication methods and how such methods can be improved on in the context of sustainable development. Over the course of the month, students regularly update a class blog with thoughts on the trip, where they discuss how their approaches toward the region and the issues at play there are evolving. In the past, students have written on topics as varied as how to reevaluate life in the Western world, how democratic societies can thrive and how other organizations are working toward sustainability in Auroville and the surrounding region.

This Giving Tuesday, AUP is uniting its entire community in support of our Coup de Pouce travel grant. Please support our #OneMoreJourney campaign to help students benefit from the lasting experience of an international study trip. When it comes to Coup de Pouce, a little help really does go a long way.