The Faculty of Fine Arts at York University is expanding its international relations and deepening existing relationships with an 18-day trip to India.
The trip, which began Jan. 1, continues until Jan. 18. A team of senior academic and administrative staff will visit Chennai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai, with stops at notable universities, fine arts training centres and cultural institutions.
“We already have a well-established program of international participation, but we’re always looking to expand our outreach and involvement,” said Barbara Sellers-Young (left), dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, who is leading the delegation.
Studio and theory courses with a South Asian focus are a standard part of the curriculum in York’s Departments of Dance, Film, Music and Visual Arts. Special projects in recent years include Theatre @ York’s premiere of a modern adaptation of Kalidasa’s Shakuntala written and directed by then graduate student Charles Roy, who took the play on to its first Canadian professional production and to the Cultural Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. The Faculty of Fine Arts has several times hosted DanceIntense Canada, in partnership with Sampradaya Dance Creations, headed by alumna Lata Pada (MA ’96), a recipient of the Order of Canada and India’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award.
A number of distinguished artist-scholars of Indian heritage hold professorships in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. They include internationally acclaimed master percussionist Trichy Sankaran, who co-founded York’s groundbreaking South Indian music studies program 40 years ago; jazz musician, composer, recording and touring artist Sundar Viswanathan; award-winning documentary filmmaker Ali Kazimi; and adjunct professor, choreographer and dancer Menaka Thakkar, who is credited with bringing classical Indian dance into the cultural mainstream in Canada.
Underpinning these artistic and academic connections are both longstanding and recent linkages between York University and educational institutions in India.
York has agreements in place with the University of Madras and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and the team from the Faculty of Fine Arts will be visiting both institutions to explore opportunities to build on these relationships. York’s Schulich School of Business maintains a Satellite Centre partnered with the Indian Institute of Management Ahmadabad, IIM Bangalore and the Indian School of Business. It also runs the Schulich MBA in India program in partnership with the Mumbai-based SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, and is opening its own campus in Hyderabad in 2013. The renowned A.J.K. Mass Communications Research Centre at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University was originally set up in collaboration with York, and Faculty of Fine Arts film professors were among the first generation of teachers there.
This solid foundation of existing connections makes India a natural choice for a concerted exploratory visit by York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.
“Our main objective is to promote research collaboration and expand student learning opportunities, with a focus on exchange opportunities for international scholars and students to mutually enhance the academic and research culture in each organization,” said Sellers-Young.
She is joined on the trip by Sheila Embleton, distinguished research professor of linguistics, a lead architect of York University’s India Strategy who has served as York’s representative at the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute for the past decade; Design Professor Michael Longford, associate dean of Graduate Studies & Research in the Faculty of Fine Arts; Film Professor Ali Kazimi; and Ina Agastra, international relations and development officer in the Faculty of Fine Arts.
Click here to view a trip itinerary and biographies of the York delegation.