Indian, U.S. Universities Team Up for Global Challenges Institute

The new Indo-U.S. Global Challenges Institute will tackle major issues like sustainability, emerging technologies, and other areas that could have a global impact.
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Published on October 2, 2023
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  • U.S. and Indian universities will team up as part of a virtual network to tackle areas with a potential global impact like sustainability and emerging technology.
  • The new Indo-U.S. Global Challenges Institute is a joint initiative of the Association of American Universities and Council of Indian Institutes of Technology.
  • The joint effort will also mean research opportunities for students.
  • The AAU also recommended that universities ramp up internships and apprenticeships as part of its effort to expand partnerships between U.S. and Indian universities.

U.S. and Indian universities are teaming up to tackle sustainability, emerging technology, pandemic preparedness, and other critical areas with potential global impacts.

The new Indo-U.S. Global Challenges Institute will focus on environmental, technological, and other issues that affect both countries. The virtual network of universities is a joint effort of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Council of Indian Institutes of Technology — and will mean new international opportunities for students from both countries.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden praised the effort in a joint statement during Biden's visit to India as part of the G-20 summit in early September.

That joint statement said the institute will "advance new frontiers in science and technology, spanning collaboration in sustainable energy and agriculture, health and pandemic preparedness, semiconductor technology and manufacturing, advanced materials, telecommunications, artificial intelligence, and quantum science."

Students from both India and the United States are set to be a key part of that critical research, an AAU spokesperson told BestColleges in an emailed statement.

"We view student engagement as a critical component of our efforts and aim to engage students at all levels," that statement read.

The collaborative Global Challenges Institute was among the recommendations from an AAU task force report on partnerships between the U.S. and India.

That report also recommended ramping up student-based research opportunities through student research competitions. Those competitions would feature online collaborations between students from the U.S. and India. And they would also feature international trips as part of the research.

"Under such a model, U.S. and Indian students would collaborate online in cross-country teams over the course of the academic year," the report reads.

"These teams would consist of undergraduate and graduate students working together from one university in the United States and one in India, with a faculty mentor to help support the team located at each institution. American students would then travel to India over the summer to work with their Indian counterparts and participate in competitions as part of these cross-country teams."

AAU President Barbara Snyder said in a press release that the new institute "will benefit both the United States and India equally and which will help lead us to solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the two nations."

The Global Challenges Institute is just one part of the AAU's effort to expand United States-India university partnerships. The AAU task noted in its June report that "the time is ripe to examine how we further develop and expand academic and research partnerships with India," given the country's rapidly growing economy and booming, young population.

"The United States and India share opportunities to strengthen both countries' economies by enhancing educational attainment and investing more in research and development," the report reads.

In addition to setting up the Global Challenges Institute and ramping up student research opportunities, the AAU task force also recommended boosting the number of internships and apprenticeships at all levels of higher education.

"Partners across government, business and industry, and academia must redouble their efforts to train the next generation of professionals who possess both technical and cross-cultural skills," the report reads.

"This will require a coordinated effort to establish short-term placements in companies and nongovernmental organizations for practical training. Working with the U.S.-India Business Council, universities should organize professional development training cohorts to participate in short-term or semester-long internship and apprenticeship opportunities."