Real-Life Learning

 

Known worldwide for his work with environmental innovation, Anil Gupta visited Colby for a week in March as part of the Goldfarb Center's new visiting fellows program,and promptly took students away from the classroom.

By Brendan Sullivan '06
 

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Anil Gupta
Photo by Rob Kievit '09
Known worldwide for his work with environmental innovation, Anil Gupta visited Colby for a week in March as part of the Goldfarb Center's new visiting fellows program"and promptly took students away from the classroom.

Gupta, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India, brought small groups of students on a series of day-long workshops at Waterville-area farms. The workshops stressed the importance of grassroots-level innovation and technology and that linking with such entrepreneurs will help Colby students learn new ways to be environmentally and socioeconomically responsible.

"People in academia don't know how much they can learn from the working people," Gupta said. "There is a missing link between Colby and the outside community. I want to link it."
Gupta has traveled across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas seeking out environmental innovators and inventions in rural areas and spreading that knowledge to the world. In the process he has set up two NGOs: the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) and the Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network.


Other Goldfarb Center Visiting Fellows

CLAUDIO AGOSTINI of Santiago, Chile, worked with Phil Brown (economics) to map poverty in Chile.

ORIT TYKOCINSKI of Israel collaborated with Thane Pittman (psychology) on research on inaction inertia.

JOHN GILMOUR of Cape Town, South Africa, worked with Catherine Besteman (anthropology and African studies) on her book, Transforming Cape Town.

ALEXANDER STOYANOV of Sofia, Bulgaria, helped design a project about poverty in Bulgaria with Liliana Andonova (environmental studies and government).
40%#Gupta emphasizes that confining education and knowledge solely to classrooms ignores a major part of the learning experience. "I have always believed that knowledge is about knowing, doing, and feeling," he said. "If one is missing, you will have less incentive to take that knowledge and make change."

Instead of limiting the farm workshops to environmental studies students, Gupta opened the sessions to all students, urging economics majors to learn the business side of farming from the farmers themselves and government majors to learn how agricultural policy affects the individual. "I feel like students, no matter [their] focus, need to experience [more]," Gupta said. "We need to redefine our conceptions of learning."

He returned to campus to guest lecture in classes and dine with students nightly. Gupta also delivered a lecture titled "Nature as a Metaphor for Designing Technologies, Institutions and Social Networks."

For more information about Gupta and his work, visit www.sristi.org.
 
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Comments

  • On August 4, 2006, Tajudeen Sani wrote:
    I love the way Mr. Anil Gupta took his visit and how he act on students to transform their knowledge. its true that knowledge is all about knowing, doing and filings. thank you. from colby prospective student