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UW-Eau Claire Economics Professor Selected For Fulbright-Hays Program in India

RELEASED: June 24, 2005

Dr. Rose-Marie AvinEAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire economics professor will spend five weeks in India this summer gaining a better understanding of the country and its culture.

Dr. Rose-Marie Avin was among 16 educators from throughout the United States selected to participate in the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program's "Women in Contemporary India" session, slated for July 1-Aug. 5.

"It's very exciting," Avin said of the Fulbright-Hays award. "It's going to allow me to develop some good insights into the culture and history of India, a nation that is very important to South Asia."

The program is designed to provide United States educators with a broader insight into Indian cultural heritage, specifically focusing on the role and status of women in India.

Avin said the knowledge she will gain from the seminar abroad will fit well with the courses she teaches at UW-Eau Claire, which include classes on developing economies in Third World countries and women in Third World countries.

Since joining the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 1987, Avin has mostly focused on Latin America. The opportunity to immerse herself in a country in another part of the world will help her expand her areas of expertise to the South Asian region, she said.

"My knowledge of South Asia is quite narrow," Avin said. "This experience will allow me to fill a somewhat big hole in my courses."

During the early part of the five-week seminar, participants will listen to and talk with experts in a variety of disciplines, Avin said. "This program will expose me to different parts of India's culture," she said. "This isn't just about economics. It's going to focus on women in history, women in religion and women in society as well as women in economics."

The second part of the seminar involves the educators visiting various parts of the country, providing opportunities for them to compare and contrast the different regions within India, Avin said, noting that the group will visit schools, museums and temples, and attend cultural events.

As part of the Fulbright-Hays award, Avin will conduct research during her time in India and will later provide the funding organization with a written summary of her findings. For her project, Avin will determine if Indian women in the informal sector — women who are self-employed — are doing better today than they were 10 to 15 years ago.

"Most women in India fall into this category — they are not formally employed by the government or by businesses," Avin said. "They have no steady income because they are self-employed and mostly sell in the streets. They are the poorest of the poor in India."

In recent years, India has experienced rapid economic growth because of economic reforms and increased foreign investment, Avin said.

"I want to understand if this has changed the status of women in India," Avin said. "I want to know how the growth has affected women in the informal sector."

Avin will share the knowledge she gains from her travels with the UW-Eau Claire campus community in a number of ways, she said. For example, she will give a lecture to an Honors class and give a presentation during the next Women's History Month.

"I obviously will benefit tremendously from this experience because this is an area of the world that I barely know," Avin said. "To be able to immerse myself there for five weeks and have opportunities to connect with some of the best minds in that region is wonderful.

"But my students also will benefit tremendously because of the knowledge I will be able to incorporate in all of my classes, especially the course on women in Third World countries."

And, Avin said, any opportunity a faculty member has to experience another culture allows them to gain knowledge that can help "internationalize the UW-Eau Claire community."

This is the second Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program that Avin has been awarded since coming to UW-Eau Claire. In 2000, Avin participated in a seminar in Brazil.



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