Looking Ahead: A Word from South Asia Center's New Director Mark Lycett

In my first semester as Director, am particularly happy to introduce myself to the larger community of Penn’s South Asia Center.  I come here from the University of Chicago where I have taught in the anthropology, environmental studies, and South Asia programs since 1996.  At Chicago, I served several terms as the Director of the Program on the Global Environment, the director of the Center for International Studies, and Academic Director of Chicago's South Asian Civilization Abroad Program in Pune, India. For much of the past 30 years, I have been engaged with research and teaching in South Asia and I am proud to join the long tradition of academic excellence in South Asian scholarship here at Penn.

I feel especially grateful to the outgoing Director, Lisa Mitchell, whose vision and leadership have helped make the Center a robust and vital resource for the University and the broader community.  As we expand our opportunities for undergraduates, I am excited by the success of our study abroad offerings through the CU in India and Penn Global Seminar programs.  This year, we will send three groups of students to India, Singapore, and Malaysia to augment their classroom experiences in the performing arts, religious traditions, and science and technology innovation of South and Southeast Asia.  In addition to this ongoing commitment, we have piloted a new Summer Research Internship program, placing students in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India to pursue intensive mentored studies in advanced topics.  In the next few years, we expect both internship and course opportunities to expand to meet the rising demand for experimental learning in global settings.

Our emphasis on experiential learning also applies to our educational outreach.  In August, we led a trip to the World Heritage Sites and cities of northern India and Nepal for Philadelphia area teachers.  

Of course, we continue to support a wide array of scholarly and public programming here on campus, including speakers, conferences, film series, educator’s workshops, and cultural performances.  In the past year, we have sponsored or co-sponsored more than 25 events of scholarly and general interest.  We also continue to partner with our alumni to build opportunities and foster mentorship for current generation of students.

Finally, I am thrilled to be working with a dynamic group of colleagues, including Rachelle Faroul, our Associate Director, and Amelia Carter, our Assistant Director.  In the coming weeks, we will be welcoming a new staff member, Aelita Parker, to the position of Events Coordinator.  

I look forward to continuing our success in the year ahead.