September 10, 2009
Department of Social Work, Amritapuri
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham enjoys a highly successful partnership with the State University of New York at Buffalo, USA — the two universities together offer a dual MBA-MS degree at Amrita’s Bangalore campus. This partnership will now possibly benefit more students, with the signing of an MoU during the recent visit of Dean Nancy Smythe of Buffalo’s School of School Work to Amrita.
“A new research center will be started with a focus on impact of natural disasters and the management of the disaster aftermath,” stated Prof. Jay Misra of Amrita who coordinated the visit of the Buffalo team. “After the 2004 tsunami that devastated many parts of Asia, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math led the way in disaster relief, in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. This highly successful recovery work will be studied to create a world-class model for all NGOs in USA and India to learn from.”
This year, the School of Social Work at Buffalo is celebrating its 75th anniversary. It has taken the leap into many novel initiatives, including weekly podcasts downloadable from their website and offering the nation’s first online social-work degree. Soon it will also begin offering joint programs with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in India. “We expect that Amrita students will be selected for a PhD at SUNY’s School of Social Work, with a guaranteed tuition waiver and a good monthly stipend,” further explained Prof. Misra.
Dean Dr. Nancy Smythe was accompanied by Dr. Catherine Dulmus, Associate Dean for Research, Ms. Laura Lewis, Director of Field Education, Ms. Maria Cristalli, Chief Strategy & Quality Officer, Hillside Family of Agencies and Mr. John Wood, Associate Vice Provost, International Education. The visitors had a chance to see the activities of the institution and the ashram first-hand. They traveled to a tribal hamlet in Idukki in Northern Kerala, where the ashram runs a very successful literacy and vocational training project, the Jan Shikshan Sansthan. “We are very impressed with the world-class work happening here,” the visitors noted. “We are learning new ways of handling difficult problems of society.”
We hope that this partnership will bring about a beneficial combination of India’s ethos and practices and the US’s technological advancements. “We hope to address problems that have remained difficult-to-solve in social-work settings around the world with the techniques developed through the work of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math. Trauma management, issues of children, empowerment of women are some areas we expect to focus on. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and the Mata Amritanandamayi Math are superb examples of institutions that work to benefit society and we are proud to partner with them.”