The South Asia Institute (SAI) coordinates activities at Columbia University that relate to study of the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan. The Institute organizes conferences, seminars, exhibits, films, lecture series and brown bag talks that bring together faculty and undergraduate and graduate students with diverse interests and backgrounds. SAI partners with departments, centers, and institutes at Columbia, and works with South Asia groups on campus and off, in order to reach new audiences and facilitate an exchange of knowledge. The Institute has ties with the United Nations, the diplomatic community, and international agencies; and is located within the largest South Asian community in North America.
Affiliated Institute faculty teach courses on South Asia in fourteen departments and six schools. SAI faculty come from a wide range of disciplines and, taken together in their research and teaching, cover virtually all the countries of the region -- and some adjacent areas, including Afghanistan, Tibet, Burma and Southeast Asia. Columbia offers three year department-based language programs (Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels) in Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Urdu. Two year language programs at Columbia's Language Resource Center include Bengali, Kannada, Punjabi, and Telegu, with third year Advanced classes arranged as tutorials or directed study.
Students may pursue undergraduate and graduate study of South Asia in a number of departments, primarily Anthropology, Comparative Literature, History, Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Political Science, and Religion. Master's students at the School of International and Public Affairs may pursue a Regional Concentration in Southern Asian Studies. South Asia Studies is an option in the Liberal Studies MA program. All graduate students of the university may take a defined set of courses to qualify for a Certificate in South Asia Studies.
The Columbia Libraries have one of the oldest and largest South Asia collections in the country, with some 500,000 volumes -- over 150,000 of them in South Asian Languages. Columbia hosts the digital library website, SARAI (South Asia Resource Access on the Internet) which serves as the official South Asia catalog for the WWW Virtual Library Association, the oldest extant web catalog and one of the most respected.
The US Department of Education has designated SAI as a National Resource Center (NRC), one of ten such South Asia centers in the country. SAI NRC outreach activities have included professional development courses for high school teachers, teacher training workshops, the collection and development of materials for use in schools and colleges, and briefings for the media on current events.
In Fall 2009, SAI will host three scholars under its Distinguished Lecturer Series: S. Akbar Zaidi (University of Karachi); Abhijit Banerjee (MIT); Kalyanakrishnan (Shivi) Sivaramakrishnan (Yale). Barbara Metcalf (Michigan) and Rosalind O'Hanlon (Oxford) will speak at SAI in Spring 2010. In October 2009, SAI will host a major conference, "Caste and Contemporary India," with scholars from the US and India, including plenary addresses by Gyanendra Pandey (Emory University) and Gopal Guru (Jawaharlal Nehru University). Please visit our website for details of SAI events.
In Spring 2010, the Institute, jointly with the Columbia Middle East Institute, has organized a professional development course, "Colonialism and Nationalism in the Middle East and South Asia." The course is open to two-year college instructors, K-12 teachers, and students or recent graduates of schools of education. See our website for details and a syllabus of the course.