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2018 Penn India Research Symposium
2:00 - 6:00 PM

Each year, Penn Global hosts an interdisciplinary symposium to highlight Penn faculty work in India and foster interdisciplinary dialogue among stakeholders across campus to inform Penn’s ongoing engagement in India. The main feature of the Symposium will be the presentation and discussion of India-related research at Penn. 

As India has become an increasing area of focus for many faculty and Schools across Penn, Penn Global has sought to support India-related initiatives on campus and abroad. On Friday, November 2, 2018, Penn Global hosted the University of Pennsylvania’s second annual India Research Symposium at Perry World House. In hosting this event, we highlighted Penn faculty work in India and foster interdisciplinary dialogue among stakeholders across campus to inform Penn’s ongoing engagement in India.

2018 Schedule

Doors will open at 1:30 PM, and guests are kindly asked to check-in at the registration desk.

For directions to the Perry World House, please visit the following website:

Moderator: Mark Lycett, South Asia Center 

Part 1: Education Initiatives & Partnerships

  • Evaluation of the Magic Bus Foundation's Adolescent Sports Program
    Jere Behrman, School of Arts and Sciences

    The Magic Bus Foundation's Adolescent Sports Program is attempting to develop skills and self-esteem, particularly for girls, through sports. This project is evaluating the effectiveness of the program.

  • Preparing K-12 Teachers in India for the 21st Century Classroom
    Betty Chandy, Graduate School of Education

    The Virtual Online Teaching (VOLT) program at Penn GSE is part of the innovation initiatives that provide a space where theory and practice from numerous disciplines and fields intertwine with the goal of driving meaningful, positive educational change. The VOLT ABEA partnership in India is geared to help teachers prepare students that are both college ready as well as career ready, in ways that reflect the future in which these students are expected to work in. An intensive in-person workshop followed by 30 weeks of online engagement, and a concluding workshop will equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to design learning environments that are student-centered and tech enhanced.

  • Participatory Research in Policy and Practice: PennGSE and TISS Partnership
    Sharon Ravitch, Graduate School of Education

    This session showcases the applied research collaboration that is at the center of the Penn GSE-TISS Mumbai partnership. In its 3rd year, the focus is participatory methods to foment resource-oriented and equitable policy reform and its attendant professional and organizational development.

Part 2: Social Sciences Research Initiatives & Collaborations

  • Reclaiming India’s Nalas
    Anu Mathur, PennDesign
    The presentation will outline the framework for developing a schematic design proposal and feasibility study for the reclamation of Saidpur Nala in Patna. Nalas were historically never drains, a common reading of their presence in Indian cities today. Rather they operated as the lowest cultivated grounds of a locality. It is an attribute that has been lost in Indian cities that have turned an ancient resilient rain-holding system into a vulnerable flood-prone drainage system where nalas serve as exits for rain and other rejected matter. The project is seen as an opportunity to correct a deep-seated erroneous reading of a monsoon landscape and a means to initiate a dialogue on alternative paradigms for design and planning.


  • The Inhabited Sea
    Anu Mathur, PennDesign (on behalf of Nikhil Anand, School of Arts and Sciences)
    What is the sea made of? And how is it being inhabited? Towards answering these questions, this project draws scholars and researchers working in anthropology, the earth sciences, landscape architecture and planning at Penn, and at top research institutions in Mumbai. Working together, the project proposes to (a) gather the uncertain chemical and biological qualities and presences of the urban sea (b) understand how sea workers (such as dock workers and fishers) negotiate these qualities of the sea in their everyday practices and (c) use these living knowledges to rethink and reimagine the fundamental relationships with which urban habitats are being made and remade with the rising seas of our present and future.

  • Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI)
    Bilal Baloch, School of Arts and Sciences
    In this presentation, we will be showcasing the distinct research verticals housed within CASI as well as the events, student programs, and strategic partnerships held therein. This presentation will be an opportunity for the Penn and Philadelphia community to hear about the advanced social scientific scholarship being undertaken pertaining to India at the university.

There will be a brief break following the conclusion of the first research blitz.

Moderator: Sharon Ravitch, Graduate School of Education

Part 1: Training & Capacity Building

  • “ABC-STOP THE BLEED”: IREF in action (via teleconference)
    Vinay Nadkarni, Perelman School of Medicine

    A systems of care pilot intervention addressing a coordinated layperson, ambulance service and hospital response to improve survival following life threatening road traffic injuries has been launched. A progress report on first responder and telephone dispatcher training, geolocation of accidents and notification of trained volunteers, and plans to test drone-delivery of life and limb saving equipment and expertise will be discussed.

  • The India Bladder Exstrophy Collaborative: A Model for Clinical Innovation and Global Education
    Jennifer Frazier, CHOP Clinical Research Coordinator, on behalf of Aseem Shukla, Perelman School of Medicine
    The India Bladder Exstrophy Collaborative enters its 11th year as a continuing partnership with 3 U.S. based institutions and the largest public hospital in Asia, the Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, focused on treating the congenital defect of bladder exstrophy-epispadias.  This effort has sparked numerous innovations in treatment, delivered world class results at a resource-deprived location serving 60 million people and become an international destination for surgeons seeking to learn strategies for treating this complex condition.  The presentation will offer an overview of the program and future endeavors.

  • Proof of Concept: Training New Sleep Technologists in India
    Nadia Ali, Perelman School of Medicine
    Penn Sleep Medicine is embarking on bringing our knowledge and know-how to the international clinical sleep marketplace. The starting point is a "Proof of Concept" effort in Mumbai, India with our academic and clinical partner, Mahatma Gandhi Mission (MGM) Hospital. MGM will deliver physician clinic services, full spectrum in-lab and HST diagnostics, and provision of PAP therapy. A key role in the success of this POC is the quality of training we deliver to our sleep technologist candidates in India.

Part 2: Social Science Research and its Implications on Health Policy

  • Social norms in India: Using networks and norms data to improve sanitation
    Cristina Bicchieri, School of Arts and Sciences
    Over 500 million people defecate in the open in India, despite increasing latrine coverage. Social and cultural factors may contribute to open defecation's persistence, and we have been analyzing social networks and social norms to identify how to improve sanitation. This presentation will primarily focus on the norms data that we have most recently analyzed to understand the social determinants of open defecation in India.

  • Poverty's Impact on Productivity, Cognitive Function, and Decision-making
    Heather Schofield, Wharton & Perelman School of Medicine
    Dr. Schofield will discuss the work conducted in her lab in India which conducts research in development, health, and behavioral economics. Most of the studies are randomized controlled trials which take a "lab-in-the-field" approach in order to ensure strong internal validity while also increasing the generalizability of the results.

There will be a brief break following the conclusion of the second research blitz.

Moderator: Bilal Baloch, Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI)

  • Antecedents and consequences of India's CSR law 
    Aline Gatignon, Wharton
    We examine how foreign and domestic firms in India design their portfolios of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. We focus on two types of characteristics: program variety and whether programs are implemented through partnerships with nonprofit organizations. We then examine what the implications are for their social outcomes, notably whether CSR portfolios cater to elites or target the needs of more economically vulnerable and socially marginalized populations.

  • Reversing the digital divide: Digital banking in rural India
    Dan Heist, PhD Candidate, on behalf of Ram Cnaan, School of Social Policy & Practice
    This study will assess the use of digitized banking in rural, south India. The rural areas of India have great need for the digitized banking to help the effort toward limiting cash in the villages, as it will lower chances of bribes and robbery that are ever present when cash is involved. Digital banking provides people with opportunities to manage their own money without having to have the cash within their possession. Therefore, creating a safer space and more financial freedom to be utilized in any way the person chooses.

  • Microfinance and formal employment
    Allison Renee Russell, PhD Candidate, on behalf of Femida Handy, School of Social Policy & Practice
    While labor market impacts on women participating in the Self Help Groups (SHGs) are studied in terms of entrepreneurial activity, self-employment and resulting job creation, an accounting of the overall labor market impact of job creation resulting from the formation and operations of SHGs remain absent from the literature. As SHGs are comprised of informal groups of low- income, financially illiterate women, capacity building efforts require intensive labor inputs at the village, NGO, and bank levels. Furthermore, the collection of deposits, repayments of loans and other related jobs also require personnel in the banks and NGOs involved. Thus, the activities of SHGs create employment in the formal sector, which in and of itself may be significant in alleviating unemployment and poverty. The present research documents the ancillary job creation generated by the SHG movement of microfinance initiatives.

  • Why India's Farmers Are Poor
    Marshall Bouton, Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI), School of Arts and Sciences 
    Over the last five decades India has made great strides in raising productivity and improving national food security. But most of India's poor people are farmers. The problem is the failure of agricultural markets, preventing farmers from realizing higher incomes. Why is this happening?

  • Systems-Thinking Research between Penn and Indian Institutions
    Rahul Mangharam, School of Engineering and Applied Science
    Two very interesting collaborative projects on Autonomous Vehicles and Next-Generation Energy Systems are being discussed with Indian universities (IIT Kanpur, IISc) and companies (Tata Consultancy Services, Flipkart). The first is on the "Design of Safe Autonomous Systems: What is a Driver's License Test for Driverless Vehicles." The second is on "Bridging Machine Learning and Control for Volatile Energy Markets."

  • Balancing privacy and auditability in blockchain applications
    Brett Hemenway Falk, School of Engineering and Applied Science
    Blockchains and Distributed Ledger Technology can facilitate collaboration by providing a common (and immutable) history for participants. Many proposed applications of this technology (e.g. financial transactions, supply chain management, identity management) also have strong privacy requirements that are at odds with the distributed, publicly-verifiable ledger. For example, every Bitcoin transaction is publicly visible. This talk will focus on the new cryptographic tools and architectures that are being developed to facilitate the competing goals of privacy and (public) auditability.


Please join us for a Diwali-themed reception, which Penn Global will host directly following the conclusion of the Symposium. The reception will also be located at the Perry World House