The India China Institute (ICI) at The New School was established in 2005 by professors Arjun Appadurai and Benjamin Lee to study the reemergence of India and China and how their new roles as global powers impact each other, the United States, and the rest of the world.
After the Cold War and Indo-China War of 1962, India and China became significantly disengaged, despite some 2,500 miles of shared border and centuries-long history of interaction. This gap was particularly notable in higher learning where the exchange of ideas between scholars from India and China, especially in the social sciences, was almost nonexistent.
That began to change in the early 1990s as expanded trade led to increased movement between the nations’ people, ideas, and goods. The concept for ICI—which Appadurai and Lee had discussed since their University of Chicago graduate school days—was all the more remarkable because it reached beyond the area studies model that was the norm in academia but had become less effective with the rise of globalization. It also embodied The New School spirit of thinking outside the box.
Armed with the pair’s intellectual vision and rationale for ICI, The New School’s then-President Bob Kerrey secured a historic $10 million grant in 2004 from The Starr Foundation. A portion of that grant was used to immediately appoint Arjun Appadurai and Benjamin Lee as ICI’s first Endowed Professors. The New School also committed generous resources to house and support the institute and hire Ashok Gurung in January 2005 as ICI’s founding director in charge of day-to-day operations.
To address the chasm between Indian and Chinese academics, a significant part of the Starr grant funds were allocated to ICI’s two-year Fellowship Program. The initiative was designed to build a community of scholars and leaders from government and non-government organizations who are seriously committed to developing a new line of inquiry around India-China in three thematic areas: Urbanization and Globalization, Prosperity and Inequality, and Social Innovation for Sustainable Environments. To date, 37 fellows—as well as the prestigious institutions to which they are attached—have become a part of ICI’s collaborative network. ICI Fellows and students have published dozens of articles and several edited volumes and ICI Fellows are important voices at international forums on India and China. (To learn more about the fellowships, click here.)
From the start, public awareness has been an objective and to that end, ICI hosts up to 25 yearly public events, lectures, talks, seminars, and conferences in New York, India, and China. ICI also established exploratory grants to allow six New School students a year to study in India and China, and helped develop curricula that have resulted in numerous New School courses on India and China.
Although a relatively new institution, ICI draws critical interest and generous support. In 2010, ICI was awarded a multi-year grant for research and teaching from The Ford Foundation and a three-year grant from The Luce Foundation. With these critical funds, ICI continues to grow, and in Fall of 2012, Mark Frazier, an acclaimed scholar in China Studies, will become the India China Institute’s new Academic Director and Endowed Professor and Sanjay Reddy, a Professor in Economics at The New School, will become a second Academic Director and Endowed Professor. ICI is in the final stages of appointing a second Endowed Professor.