University News

Stories of India Study Abroad Program Application Deadline Sept. 30

September 21, 2011

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MACOMB, IL – Gain unique insights into Indian culture and religion during the Stories of India study abroad program offered early next year via the Western Illinois University Office of Study Abroad. According to Study Abroad Academic Adviser Kim McDaniel, Stories of India is slated to run December 31, 2011-January 12, 2012. Students who enroll in and complete the program will earn three–six credit hours and will travel in rural India; visit temples and religious sites; and participate in experiential activities, including yoga and working on an organic, biodiverse farm run by internationally known environmentalist Vandana Shiva Navdanya's organization, Navdanya.

Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as all majors, Stories of India will be led by Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, professor, sociology and anthropology, and Sarah Haynes, assistant professor, philosophy and religious studies. Undergraduates who participate in the program will be enrolled in Anthropology 379 or Religious Studies 379; graduate students who participate in the program will be enrolled in Anthropology 679. To be eligible to enroll in Stories of India, undergraduate students must have completed at least 12 semester hours; have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5; and have clearance from Student Judicial Programs. Graduate students must have been accepted to a graduate-degree program; have a recommendation signed by the department chair and graduate adviser; and have clearance from Student Judicial Programs.

The deadline to submit an application for the Stories of India study abroad program is Friday, Sept. 30. The WIU Office of Study Abroad website includes a program overview page (at, through which students can download the applicable forms (program application, acceptance package, medical report, etc.).

According to McIlvaine-Newsad, Stories of India will provide WIU students with a unique opportunity to study such factors as gender, colonialism and globalization — all which influence culture and religion around the world.

"Although important in American culture, these concepts are frequently more intimately tied to cultural and religious practices in other countries, notably India. By examining these topics through the scope of the last 200 years of India's history, students will see how changes in these areas have created a ripple effect in other parts of Indian culture, especially religion," she said. "This study abroad program will also provide students with the opportunity to experience the importance of nature in the development of Hinduism and Buddhism and their practitioners."

Questions about the course content can be directed to either McIlvaine-Newsad at (309) 298-1264 or or Haynes at (309) 298-2833 or More information about the Stories of India study abroad program or other study abroad offerings is available from McDaniel at (309) 298-2504 or

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