FREDONIA - Dr. Dale Tuggy, a State University at Fredonia associate professor of philosophy, has received a Chancellor's Award for Internationalization to teach a new course, "Global Philosophy of Religion," to students in India during the 2012-13 January term.
Dr. Tuggy is one of five professors throughout the SUNY system to receive the award.
The interdisciplinary course will create a unique opportunity for up to 16 Fredonia students to experience cross-cultural exchanges, explore new topics and forge new friendships with a comparable number of English-speaking Indian undergraduates enrolled in Foundation for Liberal Arts and Management Education, located in Pune, the eighth-largest metropolitan area in India.
"I'm very excited about the award and the class," Tuggy said. "I agree with Chancellor Nancy Zimpher's aim of giving SUNY students more opportunities for international learning, and am glad that her office found our proposal worthy of support."
Four day-long field trips, three guest lectures by an Indian philosopher and participation in a course blog will supplement lecture-discussions. Excursions will take students to early medieval caves on Elephanta Island, sacred gardens, a Sikh Gurdwara and a hilltop Hindu temple complex. Classroom discussions will address concepts of the divine, eastern and western theories of religious pluralism, the basic religious thought and practices of Hinduism and Sikhism, as well as proselytism and religious conversion and alleged evidence that supports reincarnation.
The idea to conduct a course having equal numbers of American and Indian students in India was conceived in 2011 and advances efforts made by Virginia Horvath, Fredonia vice president for academic affairs, to expand SUNY Fredonia's relationship with FLAME. Tuggy was sent by Dr. Horvath, who will become SUNY Fredonia's new president in July, to FLAME in January to work out practical matters and lay the groundwork for the study abroad class.
Tuggy began designing the course after hearing a presentation made by two fellow faculty members, Sam Kinney, a dance instructor, and Tom Laughlin, a theatre professor, about their trip to India two years ago. He also learned about a group, led by Ted Schwalbe, communications professor, and Horvath, which visited FLAME.
"When I was there in January, I hit it off with the people I met," Tuggy said.
India is an appropriate site for the course, Tuggy explained. In addition to being the home of Hinduism, the third-largest religion in the world, and the origin of Buddhism, the fourth-largest, India has the second-largest number of English speakers, is the world's largest democracy, and continues to enjoy a robust economy. Additionally, SUNY Fredonia already has an agreement with FLAME to pursue faculty and student exchanges and collaborative courses to bring students and faculty together from both campuses.
There are no prerequisites for the course, which serves as an upper-level elective for students with a major or minor in philosophy or a minor in religious studies. Global Philosophy of Religion carries three credit hours and will run Dec. 28, 2012, to Jan. 21, 2013. Estimated costs, including tuition and fees, are $3,200.
"I think this will be a real adventure in intellectual and cultural diversity, and something our students, and theirs, will never forget," Tuggy said.
A Chancellor's Award, chosen by SUNY's Office of Global Affairs, provides $4,000 for new study abroad courses in a country less traveled for academic purposes, reducing student travel expenses.