Guided by Amrita’s Chancellor, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, and inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the Amrita School for Sustainable Development (ASD) conducts research and provides training that engage in participatory initiatives to foster social and environmental inclusivity and economic equity for rural communities in India. Led by internationally renowned faculty from multidisciplinary backgrounds, both from academia and industry, ASD offers a fully funded Ph.D. program, an interdisciplinary experiential learning program in rural India for bachelors and masters students, and a minor in Sustainable Development. Research is conducted in several key development areas such as Health & Wellbeing, Climate Change & Risk Management, Water & Sanitation, Gender Equality, Peace & Social Justice, and Energy, among others. Utilizing a unique framework - Education for Life (E4Life) - the School’s academic programs dynamically integrates social, economic, environmental, and cultural aspects of communities while assessing their needs, enabling global youth to experience, embrace, empower, and engage through a blend of both experiential and academic learning.
In Jun2 2020, the UN awarded Amrita the UNESCO Chair for Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation & Development. Under the Chair, a comprehensive framework for academic engagement has been developed to build sustainable communities via a curriculum emphasizing experiential learning.
Message from Our Chancellor
"In our approach to sustainable development, we should not forget that it is by strengthening the people at the base of the pyramid that the entire edifice of society becomes healthy and strong.”
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham
Sri. Mata Amritanandamayi (AMMA), a world-renowned humanitarian leader, is the founding Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. Her vision of Education for a Living and Life, relentless focus on compassion driven research, and a commitment to instilling universal values have come together to shape Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham into an institution where the latest discoveries combine with service and social justice.
During the formative years of the University, the Chancellor guided students and faculty to immerse themselves in a humanitarian rescue and relief effort of unprecedented magnitude when a massive Tsunami struck in 2004. This became a gold mine of experiential learning in the areas of disaster management, healthcare, education, skills & livelihood, information and communication, and sustainability all targeted towards building resilient communities. The response and rehabilitation initiatives set out a trajectory of compassion driven research. In addition to having a strong societal benefit through real-world deployments that save lives and improve quality of living, research at Amrita also produces high-impact publications and patents.
Tsunami Risk Reduction & Community Resilience
On December 26th, 2004, several coastal areas along the Indian Ocean were affected by 30-meter-high Tsunami waves from a 9.1-9.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. More than 200,000 people were killed and nearly 2 million people were displaced across 14 countries in this disaster.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences (Government of India), the Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (ESSO-INCOIS), Esri India, and Amrita’s prestigious UNESCO Chair on Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation and Development, UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, School of Sustainable Development, and the Center for Wireless Networks & Applications jointly hosted an international symposium on December 26th, 20202 to critically reflect on the imprints of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, its subsequent impact on our society, and advances in science and technology that have helped to build sustainable and resilient communities. The symposium provided a platform to policymakers, NGOs, technological innovators, and scientists to share their knowledge and answer questions that will help develop resilient communities across the world.
The symposium commemorated the 16th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and deliberated on the challenges faced, lessons learnt, and analyzed the current preparedness in community resilience, governance, and technological solutions to mitigate any future impacts of Tsunamis. It provided a platform to local, regional, and national government bodies, policymakers, international and national university researchers, NGOs, technological innovators, and scientists to share their knowledge and answer questions that will help develop resilient communities across the world. The symposium strived to revive scientific social responsibility to reduce risk and vulnerability factors by a) understanding the impact of Tsunamis on coastal communities; b) marking the advances in science and technology in monitoring and modeling of the Tsunami and its impacts; and c) coming up with a strategic framework to further advance our disaster preparedness, adaptation, and mitigation efforts to build sustainable and resilient communities.
During the symposium, Amrita and Esri India inked a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Under the MoU, Esri India and Amrita will collaborate to establish a Center of Geospatial Excellence on Spatial Analysis and Modeling with dedicated facilities for research, development, and testing. The center’s mission would be to promote development of specific skills and technical knowhow among academicians, students, and industry around geospatial technologies and latest toolkits like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and geospatial Big Data Analytics. This includes multiple initiatives such as conducting training programmes, workshops, seminars, policy round tables, symposia events, certificate and diploma courses, and hackathons, in general, with a focus on geospatial technology application areas to strengthen multi-hazard risk reduction and community resilience
Dr. Madhavan Nair Rajeevan
Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES),
Government of India; Chairman, ESSO-INCOIS; and Chairman, Earth Commission
The symposium recommended all tsunami-prone countries a) strengthen multi-hazard risk governance, b) create and build multi stakeholder partnerships (SDG 17) and, c) generate information systems for coordination, communication and capacity building with disaster prone communities to local, national, regional and international levels. It also recommended the design of holistic human centred and humanistic approaches grounded in the participatory identification of felt needs of local communities and their involvement and ownership of local eco-friendly development solutions, including involvement of women as change agents and actors, inter-linkages with environmental issues and downstream awareness and preparedness education. Symposium speakers advocated the preparation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all institutions engaged with tsunami warning and evacuation at all levels and the the design of location specific Geo-spatial Technology Infrastructure and capacity building at state, district and urban levels for effective disaster management throughout the entire disaster management life cycle. Investing in and strengthening psycho social support and capacity building of local communities as first responders and preventing "default discrimination' and exclusion of weaker sections and dalits during preparedness, response, and rehabilitation were also recommended.
PGP Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies
Dean, International Programs
UNESCO Chair for Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation & Development
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham
The School of Sustainable Development is home to a unique interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, a Double Ph.D. program, Amrita’s flagship experiential learning program (Live-in-Labs®), and the minor certificate in Sustainable Development. Students will have the opportunity to take courses, engage in real-world projects, and conduct research in over 10 key development areas and work with faculty guides who are leading subject matter experts from academia and industry.
Amrita’s Ph.D. program in Sustainable Development is a multidisciplinary and theory-into-practice Ph.D. program offered under the School for Sustainable Development. The program is designed to provide an interdisciplinary grounding with its integrative courses, blending both experiential and academic learning.
Live-in-Labs® is a multidisciplinary experiential learning program that breaks classroom and lab barriers by applying learned theory in real-world settings. The program draws on principles of lean research for the development and deployment of sustainable solutions for current challenges faced by rural communities in India. By directly living in rural communities (labs) and co-designing solutions to development challenges, program participants gain first-hand knowledge and know-how of identifying and assessing community needs and subsequently developing and implementing viable solutions through various participatory methods.
Bachelors in Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA “This program gave me my first experience in international health, which I am interested in pursuing. Now, I am more set on working with Doctors Without Borders after I finish my studies. I was also able to learn about the various aspects that a village needs to become developed.”
Live-in-Labs® - Masters
Amrita Masters students have a wonderful opportunity to apply their advanced theoretical knowledge and skills set in a variety of community sustainable development scenarios. Projects also provide a platform to engage in focused research and may provide a premise for a PhD. Interested students can contact their department coordinators to learn more about participating in the program.
Masters in Social Work, Coimbatore Campus “Live-in-Labs® is a platform where both learning and humanitarian activities take place - a place where students can practically apply learned ethos and live as one among a community. What is the power of youth if it cannot be channeled towards the development of the country? The Live-in-Labs® program gives us this opportunity to engage in service to society. This is an experience I will cherish for a very long time.”
Live-in-Labs® - Bachelors
The Amrita Live-in-Labs® program aims to expose youth to problems faced by rural communities in India. Through experiential learning opportunities, participants put theory into practice by generating innovative solutions, thereby facilitating critical and collaborative problem-solving skills. The program allows participants to study, observe, and interact with populations, while living in rural communities, to gain a better understanding of challenge areas. The program offers students a fantastic opportunity to directly apply classroom knowledge and even gain preliminary exposure to field research and developing sustainable solutions
Barnala Kiran Kumar
Bachelors in Computer Science & Engineering, Amritapuri Campus “Live-in-Labs® taught me many things such as how to adapt to new environments, how to listen to people and understand their problems, and the importance of resources and basic needs like water, electricity, and housing. The program is the right path to help students apply what they have learned and think in creative ways to develop sustainable solutions.”
Dr. Maneesha V. Ramesh is the UNESCO Chair for Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation & Development, the PGP Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies, Dean of International Programs, and Director & Professor at Amrita Center for Wireless Networks and Applications (AWNA).
Advising: Engineering - Climate Change & Risk Reduction, Water & Sanitation, Energy, and Sustainable Community Development
Dr. Karthik Sankaranarayanan is an Adjunct Faculty at the Amrita School of Sustainable Development.
Advising: Management - Agriculture, Livelihood, and Health & Wellbeing
Dr. Bhavani Rao R.
Dr. Bhavani Rao R. serves as the UNESCO Chair in Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment, the Director of AMMACHI Labs, Chairperson and Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work, Amritapuri campus.
Advising: Social Science - Water & Sanitation, Livelihood, Environment, Gender Equality, Climate Change & Risk Management
Dr. P. Sivaraj is an Assistant Professor at the Amrita School of Agricultural Sciences, Coimbatore campus.
Advising: Biotechnology - Livelihood
To be Updated Soon!
To be Updated Soon!
On June 12, 2020, the United Nations awarded Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham the UNESCO Chair for Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation & Development. Under the guidance of Dr. Maneesha V. Ramesh, PGP Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies, Dean of International Programs, and Director of the Center for Wireless Networks & Applications, the University will develop a comprehensive framework for academic engagement to build sustainable communities by designing a curriculum based on experiential learning. This curriculum will enable the academic community to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to implement sustainable solutions among vulnerable and rural communities.
As part of the activities for this Chair, Amrita will conduct PG teaching programs (including Joint Ph.D., Double Ph.D. and Dual Masters programs), short-term certificate courses, research (including a seed-grant program for students and faculty), conferences, scholarships, and installation of model labs to check the practicality of solutions for sustainable development before they are implemented in communities. Amrita will be the coordinating university for the development and implementation of a curriculum, applicable to fourteen selected UN SDGs for sustainable development, by virtue of its extensive experience in conducting the Live-in-Lab® program for the sustainable development of villages in India. After carrying out a systematic pilot implementation of the program and demonstrating its immense success, Amrita intends to scale up the program to national and international levels through the established UNESCO chair under the guidance of the United Nations.
As a UNESCO Chair, Amrita becomes part of more than 700 educational institutions that share knowledge and expertise to improve their educational and research capacities. Launched in 1992, the UNESCO Chair program promotes international inter-institutional cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. The UNESCO Chair will be held by Dr. Maneesha for the next four years.