Since its inception in 2003, the South Asia Institute (SAI) has continued the long tradition of collaboration between Harvard and South Asia. Learning from South Asia and contributing to its development have become vital given the salience of the region in contemporary times. Under the leadership of Tarun Khanna, faculty director of SAI and the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School (HBS), the institute has forged links and synergies across Harvard’s Schools and within South Asia, creating a nexus for interdisciplinary scholarship with shared aspirations to build the leading center of expertise on South Asia.
This year, SAI has hosted more than 33 seminar series focusing on topics related to global health, Muslim societies in South Asia, social enterprise, urbanization, water, and climate change. Additionally, SAI convened “Mapping the Kumbh Mela,” a multidisciplinary research project to study the religious festival. In January, a team of 50 faculty, students, and staff from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Design, HBS, the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, the Harvard Global Health Institute, and SAI traveled to Allahabad, India, to engage with this “pop-up mega city.”
SAI’s regional presence in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan plays a crucial role in supporting Harvard faculty and students in research, teaching, and field experience. This summer, aided by SAI, 65 undergraduate and graduate students and five faculty members have been funded to travel to all corners of South Asia to conduct research, perform fieldwork, participate in internships, and study South Asian languages.