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SIT India Sustainable Development and Social Change

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring


Jaipur, India




2.5 GPA, good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

Spring: 9/27, Fall: 2/24

Program Cost:

Refer to the Application tab for more details

Study Abroad Advisor:

Ana Jimenez

SIT Study Abroad offers more than 60 accredited semester and summer study abroad programs — in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as the International Honors Program, comparative programs in multiple locations.

The SIT Experience

  • Rigorous academic programs through a field-based, experiential approach
  • Undergraduate research through an Independent Study Project
  • Cultural immersion through fieldwork, language classes, and urban and rural homestays with local families
  • A small group of students in each program, supported by SIT faculty and staff, homestay families, in-country experts, and community members
  • Access to SIT's extensive local resources and networks
  • A commitment to reciprocity as the foundation of our educational philosophy

Sustainable Development and Social Change

Examine India’s socioeconomic development trends and how rethinking development is gaining urgency for shaping sustainable social change.

This program examines the diverse factors, internal and global, shaping India’s development strategies and patterns. You will gain foundational knowledge of India’s past, present, and future development paradigms, economic growth, and development alternatives. The program is based in Jaipur, a historical city in the state of Rajasthan.

Major topics of study include:

  • Development concepts, theories and approaches
  • India’s transition: post-1990s
  • Rural and urban development: crisis, challenges, and response
  • Moving beyond developmentality
  • Creating a roadmap for sustainability in India and radical ecological democracy (RED)
  • Development alternative interventions and case studies

Students who participate in this course earn 16 s.h. For course descriptions and sylabi, please consult SIT's program webpage.

SIT Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Seminars

Thematic seminars merge student experience with academic theory to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn from SIT faculty as well as guest lecturers from local universities, research institutes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community and professional associations. Field-based activities and assignments complement readings, discussions, and research papers, allowing students to engage in a variety of study methods.

Intensive Language Study

Programs typically offer language study at the intermediate and advanced levels and/or beginning instruction in a less commonly taught language spoken by the local community. Language courses incorporate formal classroom instruction, discussion, and field exercises designed to enhance student engagement while improving oral and written competence. Select programs are taught entirely or partly in the target language.

Research Methods and Ethics

Students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake fieldwork on topics connected to the program’s theme and specific cultural context. Students develop research skills and approaches including cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; contact and resource cultivation; observation and interviewing skills; gathering, organizing, and presenting findings; and maintaining a field journal. Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities and are required to follow the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy, which serves as an approval process and guide for ethical field study practices.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

Typically conducted during the last month of the semester, the ISP allows students to pursue original field-based research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The academic director advises each student on developing a project plan. Students also identify an ISP advisor who works with the student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the student’s research project. Final projects generally include a 20- to 40-page paper and presentation to peers, academic staff, and interested members of the host community.

University of Iowa students who complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) must follow University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures. For more information on the Iowa IRB process please visit the Undergraduate Research Abroad webpage. An additional pre-departure orientation session, hosted by the Iowa IRB, will be offered on campus to help answer questions and ensure compliance.

Program Dates

For program dates, please consult SIT's program webpage.

For More Info

If you have questions or are ready to apply to this program, please make an appointment with program advisor by calling the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 (M-F, 8-5).

Ana Jimenez
Study Abroad Advisor & Program Coordinator
Tel: +1 319-335-0353

India is the world’s largest democracy with a rapidly growing economy, vibrant IT industry and service sector, and burgeoning middle class, and it is poised to become an influential world power. Despite its impressive economic growth, social hierarchy, inequity, and poverty remain enormous challenges for this country of more than one billion people.

Jaipur, India

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In Jaipur, you will begin thematic coursework, language study, and the Field Methods and Ethics course while enjoying access to academics, professional associations, and grassroots organizers working in areas such as community development, natural resource management, and poverty alleviation through state-led social security provisions and livelihood development.

Jaipur presents itself as a wealthy and regal city containing clean, stately, tree-lined streets; traditional and contemporary architecture; heritage palaces and forts; five-star hotels; and a thriving tourism industry. However, the largely rural and agricultural state of Rajasthan is among the underdeveloped regions in India, and Jaipur, the state's capital city, reflects this reality. Rural and urban youth throughout the region struggle with problems ranging from life-threatening droughts to gaining admission to prestigious universities. Organizations supported by concerned urban citizens are seeking innovative ways to address issues of poverty, social justice, and sustainable development in Rajasthan’s rural areas as well as among the urban poor.


SIT places the highest priority on the health, safety, and security of all students. Through their 80-plus years of running international experiential education programs, they have developed sophisticated proactive and reactive risk management strategies. Their proactive risk management begins with in-country assessments of safety and continues through student orientation and emergency preparedness. Their reactive risk management strategies include 24/7 on-call availability, emergency/crisis response protocols, and comprehensive student insurance. Their structure also allows for rapid response and adjustment to changing situations.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

By living with Indian host families, you will have an excellent opportunity to practice language skills and share daily life, including many memorable meals. You may also experience special cultural activities, including religious ceremonies and weddings.

Jaipur homestay

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As a student in the India: Sustainable Development and Social Change program, you will live with a homestay family in Jaipur for approximately six weeks. Homestay families have a longstanding relationship with SIT and are always eager to welcome students into their home. Most of the families are from the upper middle class, with varied religious backgrounds and worldviews. Some members of the family are homemakers, while others hold professions such as teacher/professor, engineer, business owner, government official, doctor, artist, etc.

Indian family structure is in transition from multi-generational to nuclear. In addition, the number of families with both parents working outside the home is growing. Students live in families of varied sizes composed of parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, small children, and uncles and aunts. Few families have pet dogs and cats. The program has a one student, one family norm. Each student typically has a separate room with an attached bathroom that is occasionally shared by visiting relatives.

You will be matched with a family based on your background and health issues, as well as shared interests like music, arts, etc. The homestays are located in clusters within the periphery of one to ten kilometers from the program center. Your home will be within a short walk of three or four other SIT students, allowing you to share auto rickshaws for the daily commute to the learning center. You will usually use the same auto rickshaw for traveling around Jaipur in your free time, maximizing safety and convenience. The program has the practice of collecting vital information of the regularly and occasionally used auto rickshaw drivers, like their name, phone number, and vehicle registration number.

The homestay experience will provide you with the opportunity to share and learn customs, food, languages, and social and religious lives by taking part in daily activities at home and with members of the extended family. The experience itself provides a sense of social change and continuity in India’s family structure and traditions. During the Indian wedding seasons, you will also get to attend “Bollywood-style” north Indian weddings with dance, music, jewelry, and sarees. Past students have considered the homestay experience to be one of the most meaningful components of the program

Other accommodation during the program includes hostels, small hotels, NGO facilities, and educational institutions.

Educational Excursions

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

The program includes visits to a diversity of NGO headquarters, prominent academic and research institutes, and villages. Visits to locations in Rajasthan will expose you to the realities of rural life in India and socioeconomic development in arid and semi-arid regions on the state.

In a typical semester, the excursion component of the program may include visits to all or many of the following NGOs and academic and research institutions:

  • Bodh Shiksha Samiti (Jaipur and Rajasthan) works toward quality education for underprivileged children through its community residential schools founded in 1987. It currently serves more than 26,000 children (urban and rural) through its bodhshalas and government schools in Rajasthan.
  • Jaipur Foot Factory is the world’s largest producer of prosthetic below-the-waist limbs provided free of cost to those in need, irrespective of caste, religion, origin, and ethnicity. This excursion introduces students to one of the most successful models of a physical disability rehabilitation center and provides an opportunity to learn about social change and the empowerment of individuals with physical disabilities.
  • International College for Girls (ICG), University of Rajasthan is a private institution that provides higher education for women in the Jaipur district of Rajasthan. SIT students may interact with students their own age currently enrolled in the college.
  • Gram Vikas Navyuvak Mandal Laporiya (GVNML) is run by Mr. Laxman Singh, an Asoka fellow, social activist, and development practitioner. The organization is engaged in various development and conservation initiatives including biodiversity conservation.
  • Pak Visthapit Sangh (PVS) in Jodhpur is a rights-based movement that highlights the plight of Hindu refugees who have been victims of religious fundamentalism. The organization conducts advocacy work for their citizenship and rehabilitation.
  • Uttari Rajasthan Milk Union Limited (URMUL) Trust (Bikaner) works with indigent individuals to facilitate increased self-reliance.
  • National Research Centre on Camel (Bikaner) was established by the government due to the importance of camels in the socioeconomic development of arid and semi-arid zones. The center undertakes basic and applied research for the improvement of keystone camel species in collaboration with national and international institutes.
  • Barefoot College (Tilonia) is a rural development organization led by the people it serves and whose development goals are self-defined. The Barefoot College provides basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making communities self-sufficient and sustainable. These solutions can be broadly categorized into the delivery of solar electrification, clean water, education and livelihood development, healthcare, rural handicrafts, and communication.

Development Workshops

Immersion in development interventions and sustainability development and social change occurs through the program’s five- to seven-day workshop. Diverse workshop opportunities vary every semester but are offered in the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh. The number and choice of workshop vary every semester. All of the below or only few may be selected depending on logistics, facilitation, and interests.

Sample workshop sites:

  • Kiran Centre (Madhopur/Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh) is a center for education and rehabilitation for children and youth — many of whom have polio, cerebral palsy, rickets, or hearing impairments — which provides children with education, vocational training, physical rehabilitation, and other skills. At Kiran, you will be able to see the work in all the units and to volunteer your time with children and youth.
  • Shikshantar is an organic learning community, video and library resource center, and applied research institute working in the areas of lifelong societal learning and just and balanced living for the 21st century. It aims to challenge and dismantle the existing monopoly of factory schooling and enable and connect open learning communities that support the generation of new visions of Swaraj, or self-rule, envisioned by Gandhi. At Shikshantar, you will engage in various activities to go through an “unlearning” process through transdisciplinary reflection, dialogue, vision-building, and experimentation.
  • Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) (Dehradun, Uttarakhand) is a nongovernmental organization that works with communities in the hill state of Uttarakhand. Started in the 1970s, spearheading the local issues and development work in the tribal area of Jaunsar-Bhawar, today it works in six states: Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Haryana. It currently works to bring awareness about human rights and to supplement the initiatives of the National Human Rights Commission and the various state commissions; community forest management (CFM), with special focus on safeguarding the rights of the indigenous nomadic Van Gujjars community and on capacity building of marginalized communities in Panchayati Rule (local self-governance) while working towards gender equity in local governance.
  • The Adivasi Academy (Tejgadh, Gujarat) is established to create a unique educational environment for the study of tribal communities. It is aimed to become an institute for the study of tribal history, folklore, cultural geography, social dynamics, economy, development studies, medicine, music, arts, and theater. With its multidisciplinary approach and related interventional measures, the academy is striving to create a new approach of academic activism.
  • Jagori Grameen (Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh) is a national feminist-based organization committed to social justice that works with communities to address discrimination based on gender, class, caste, religion, and disability. At Jagori, you will be exposed to different interventions such as informal women’s courts, rural knowledge resource centers, inclusion and capacity building of women in local governance systems, and sexuality and human rights education.
  • Watershed Activities and Services Network (WASSAN) (Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh) is working toward bringing about a qualitative change in the watershed-based development programs in India and provides capacity building and support services for development initiatives in natural resources management with a focus on promoting livelihoods for people living in poverty and economic and gender equity.

Travel Arrangements

Participants will make their own travel arrangements to India, taking advantage of any frequent-flyer options and/or internet specials available to them. The cost of travel is not included in the program fee. Information about airport pick up will be given at orientation. Students should book airfare to correspond with the arrival and departure dates given by SIT.


This program is open to UI students who fulfill the following requirements:

  • Minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA: Students must have at minimum a 2.5 cumulative GPA to participate in this program.
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing: Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa. Academic and disciplinary history will also be considered when determining whether a student is prepared to represent the University of Iowa as part of this program. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance, will not be allowed to study abroad, and are wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.


The cost sheet (forthcoming) outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.

SIT automatically gives students from Big Ten institutions a $1,500 scholarship. There is no application necessary, the credit is automatically credited to your account. SIT offers additional awards that can be found on SIT's webpage.

Pell Grant Recipients will have their application fee waived by SIT, are eligible for additional SIT scholarships, and are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details!

How to Apply

The application deadline is September 27 (for Spring applicants) or February 24 (for Fall applicants).

Applicants must meet with Study Abroad advisor before application will be processed. You can schedule a meeting by calling 319-335-0353. After discussing the program and its requirements, students can proceed with the UI Study Abroad Application.

Once the Study Abroad advisor has approved their UI online application, participants must also complete the SIT application. The SIT application can be found here: SIT Application. Final admissions decisions to the program are made by SIT.

Pre-Departure Preparation

Health & Safety Planning

All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

UI Financial Aid Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the Health Preparation Guide for International TravelPDF form with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.

Financial Aid

For more information about receiving financial aid while studying abroad, please review the following:

UI Financial Aid Information

Flight/Travel Arrangements

SIT will provide you with a document called "International Flight Information" that will assist you with making travel plans and give the information you need to purchase your flight. Please refer to this document.


If you need a visa, SIT will send you a document titled "Passport and Visa Information" and you should follow these instructions. Contact the SIT visa coordinator with questions or reach out to Study Abroad. You must have a passport valid for 6 months after your return date in order to apply for the visa, so please renew or apply for your passport as soon as possible.

Program Payment

You will be billed for the program on your U-Bill through the University of Iowa's Billing Office. Billing occurs the semester you are abroad and is due with the first U-Bill of the term, thus allowing financial aid and scholarships to disbuse BEFORE the bill is due.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

SIT Resources

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Contact a Former Student
SIT Confirmation Materials
Pre-Departure Materials by Program
SIT Medical Review