top of page


Exploring Sustainability through Urban and Agricultural India

India (Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jaipur and Jodhpur)

Seminar Overview: "Exploring Sustainability through Urban and Agricultural India"

To support community colleges and minority-serving institutions, CAORC offers fully-funded overseas seminars that help faculty and administrators gain the requisite first-hand experience needed to improve courses connecting international issues with domestic concerns, thereby underscoring global interconnections through the creation of new and innovative curricular and teaching materials.

This seminar, administered by CAORC in collaboration with its member center in India, the American Institute of Indian Studies, funds participation in a two-week seminar that will include visits to Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jaipur and Jodhpur to understand the varying economic, cultural, social, and environmental pressures confronting emerging cities as more and more Indians migrate to urban areas in search of work and opportunity. As towns grow into cities and as cities morph into megacities, what can be done to ensure that demands for quality economic opportunities and decent standards of living are balanced against increased pressures on the environment, energy resources, and threatened cultural sites and traditions?

In addition to exploring the overlapping and cross-cutting challenges and opportunities created by India’s rapid urban development, participants will gain first-hand experience—through specialist-led site visits and cultural excursions—of India’s fascinating history, culture, languages, religions, and contemporary society that can be harnessed to address urban sustainability. Throughout the program, participants will learn from and have the opportunity to partner with university faculty engaged in international collaboration and exchanges, community leaders, and Non-Governmental Organizations engaged in programs related with Sustainable Development in India. Previous seminar cohorts have visited the cities of Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, and Jodhpur. The 2025 cohort will visit Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jaipur and Jodhpur. 

​Seminar dates: January 2 - January 21, 2025


Meet the AIIS Seminar Leaders


Professor Amar Sawhney is an Urbanist, Architect, and Educator with a rich experience spanning 53 years at Miami-Dade College, Boston Architecture College, and Cornell. He graduated from the College of Architecture in Chandigarh, India (Punjab University) and holds a Master's degree in Architecture, Urban Design, and Urban Planning from Cornell University. Additionally, he completed 56 graduate credits in Urban Planning and Education from the University of Miami and Florida International University.


For his bachelor's thesis, Professor Sawhney worked on the Delhi High Court, while his master's thesis focused on the "Development of New Towns in the Syracuse-Utica area in NY." He received guidance from Professors Colin Rowe and Professor Unger at Cornell University, with undergraduate mentorship from Professors Malhotra, Professor Bhatti, and architectural luminaries Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe, and Doshi.


In recognition of his contributions, Professor Sawhney received a Digital Field Trip grant, a follow-up grant, and attended the Faculty Development Seminar in 2019, all awarded by the American Institute of Indian Studies. Currently, he volunteers to lead the 2024-2025 American Institute of Indian Studies alongside Jessica Barnes of Northern Arizona University. As a Fulbright specialist in Urban Planning and Architecture, he plans to lead a Rainwater Management Project to address flooding issues in Alexandria in 2024, collaborating with Alexandria University and the government of Egypt.


Over his 51 years at Miami-Dade College, Professor Sawhney earned the Endowed Chair twice and secured a $10 million grant as part of a consortium by the Department of Labor. He facilitated study abroad studio programs in Europe at Miami-Dade College for 25 years, collaborating with various European universities and architecture schools.


Professor Sawhney has presented his work at the National Geographer Association, the International University Teaching Conference in Georgia and Malaysia, and his research on Indian settlements was accepted by the Association of Collegiate School of Planning. He has actively participated in the Earth Ethics Institute at MDC and various campus organizations, serving as a consultant to city governments in Miami and being appointed by the Mayor of Pinecrest to various committees.


A Rotarian for 25 years, Professor Sawhney has directed international projects in South Asia, Bhutan, and Nepal. He is also the President of the Global Urban Sustainable Center, a global non-profit based in Miami and Chandigarh, India. Involved with the UN Human Settlement Program for decades, his non-profit aims to inspire young professionals in Architecture and Urban Planning within minority communities in the US and India.


Professor Sawhney's interests lie in enhancing communities for all citizens, eradicating poverty through the Urban Planning process, focusing on economic development for underserved communities, and addressing climate impact on global underserved communities and Indian tribes in the US. He is passionate about guiding young architects and urban planners to work in inner cities, fostering poverty eradication in both the US and India. His interest extends to artwork in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, aiming to cultivate stronger bonds between the US and India, the two largest democracies.


Proficient in four Indian languages, Professor Sawhney can fluently converse in Arabic and Spanish.


Jessica R. Barnes is an Associate Teaching Professor in human geography at Northern Arizona University and an adjunct online instructor at Southern New Hampshire University. She teaches courses on regional geography, global development, and human environment relations. As a teaching-focused faculty member, she built on her graduate minor in college teaching to earn an Association of College and University Teachers certification in Effective College Teaching. Her most recent research and scholarly work includes utilizing course-based undergraduate research,
creating online virtual fieldtrips for course content, and considering strategies to overcome hopelessness in environmental education.

Jessica was a participant in the 2019-2020 Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) Faculty Development Seminar – “Exploring Urban Sustainability through India’s Cities.” The seminar gave 16 faculty members from minority-serving institutions the opportunity to travel to India for two weeks, experience local culture, connect with local scholars and activists, and hear from leading specialists in order to build their experiential knowledge of the Indian context and development international curriculum. She and Amar Sawhney of Miami- Dade college were awarded additional funding from the (AIIS) to support return travel to India to develop curriculum for geography and planning classes using multimedia and map-based exploration of segregation and inequality in informal urban settlements. Jessica brings these learning tools into courses she teaches at NAU on world geography, development, and environmental sustainability. She is honored work Amar as co-directors for the upcoming CAORC AIIS Faculty Development Seminars.

Jessica earned her Ph.D. and served as a teaching associate at the Department of Geography at Ohio State University. Her doctoral research was on how crafter's work fits into lives and livelihoods in Columbus, Ohio and was supported by a Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women Grant. She earned her M.A. in geography from Ohio State in 2009 for her work examining how print journalists localize climate change. She earned her B.A. in geography and English from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, minored in journalism, and worked as a reporter and editor at the student newspaper and as a reporter at a regional daily. In 2006, she won best undergraduate student paper awards from the Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group of the AAG and the Wisconsin Geographical Society. Her research interests include alternative/cultural economies, development, independent work / informal economies / platform economies, governmentality, feminist geographies, media representations, sustainability, and college pedagogy. 

She lives with her family in Flagstaff, AZ in a retro music recording studio where you might find her practicing yoga, playing music, or writing.


The program is open to full-time or part-time faculty and administrators at U.S. community colleges or minority-serving institutions. A directory of MSIs can be found at the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions. The program is open to faculty in all fields, at all academic ranks, and from any academic or administrative department.  

Applicants may apply to only one (1) of the concurrent CAORC Overseas Faculty Development Seminar opportunities being offered.  Applicants who apply to more than one concurrent seminar may be removed from consideration for all seminars. 

CAORC and the U.S. Department of State do not require any vaccinations to participate in the Overseas Faculty Development Seminar program, however the host countries, overseas research centers, individual sites, and communities that are part of the FDS program schedule may have their own requirements for vaccination. These requirements may change from the time of application to the time of travel. 

Applicants must be U.S. citizens at the time of application and must hold a valid, current U.S. passport that does not expire within six months of the last date of the program.

Note: Previous Overseas Faculty Development Seminar awardees are requested to observe a one-year waiting period before applying for another program

Program Expectations

As an outcome of the Overseas Faculty Development Seminar program, participants are required to develop and implement a project to increase internationalization on their campus. Details and examples of these projects will be shared with awardees during pre-departure orientation. Projects should be implemented within one year of the conclusion of the program, at which time participants will be asked to submit a project report and share curriculum and/or documentation of the project for inclusion on CAORC's Open Educational Resources site.

Application Process

Applications can be accessed via CAORC's SM Apply application portal. You must sign up for an account to access the seminar application. This will allow you to save and return to your application before submitting. Please save your login/password information for future applications.

​In addition to providing basic personal and professional information, applicants are required to respond to the following essay questions (up to 500 words each):

  1. Discuss your background and experience, elucidating your personal interest in joining this Overseas Faculty Development Seminar, with a focus on the region and/or seminar theme. Provide details about your current engagement with these subjects in your teaching, research, campus activities, or community initiatives. (500 words)

  2. Articulate how your participation in the seminar will contribute to your professional growth, particularly in enhancing your teaching, research methods, and/or contribution to global education on your campus. (500 words)

  3. Outline a proposal for your post-seminar project, describing how participation in this seminar will directly impact your teaching, curriculum, and/or research. Specify the projects, courses, or activities you envision resulting from the seminar. Furthermore, discuss how your OFDS experience might be multiplied for the benefit of your students, colleagues, institution, and/or community.

  4. Share a specific occasion when you encountered attitudes, perspectives, values, or behaviors different from your own. Explain your response and reflect on what you learned about yourself and your attitudes from the experience.

​In addition, applicants are required to:

  • ​Upload a current cv/resume (maximum of 2 pages)

  • Request a letter of support from a department chair, academic division head, or academic dean at your college or institution. You will be able to send a link to your recommender via the online grant portal, SM Apply, by entering their contact details, which will trigger the system into sending an automated email. Your recommender will then be able to upload their letter. Recommendation letters will be confidential in the system.​In their letter, the recommender should address the following questions/points:

    1. Please tell us why you support the applicant’s participation in the CAORC faculty development seminar. From your perspective, how will they benefit professionally from the program?

    2. Please describe the applicant’s engagement with your institution’s internationalization efforts and how their participation in the seminar might benefit students, colleagues, and the broader campus community.

    3. Please discuss the applicant’s collegiality, teamwork, and professionalism. How have they demonstrated the ability to cooperate, work, and share with others to achieve goals and positive outcomes?

  • It is advisable to enter your recommender's contact details into the recommendation letter section of the application as soon as possible (and click 'mark as complete') so that they have sufficient time to complete and upload their letter. The applicant is responsible for checking in with their recommender to ensure the letter is submitted by the recommender deadline. CAORC is not able to reach out to recommenders on behalf of the applicant. 

Opening date for applications: March 12, 2024

Application deadline: July 19, 2024 at 5:00pm ET

Recommendation letter deadline: July 22, 2024 at 5:00pm ET

Notification of award decisions: September 6, 2024


If you have questions, please email:


Funding for this program is provided to CAORC through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, with additional financial assistance from the following U.S. National Resource Centers in South Asian Studies: Cornell University, Syracuse University, University of Washington, and University of Wisconsin, Madison.

bottom of page