Project Awards Summary 2015-16

Business, Economics, Law, and Policy

Harnessing Open Data for Understanding and Addressing Inequalities in Developed and Developing Cities

The project built on a series of discussions over 18 months between UrbanCCD and the University of Strathclyde, which already resulted in transfer of insight and technologies from UChicago to Strathclyde and vice versa as well as several joint proposals to US and EU funding sources. The intention was to use the knowledge gained from this workshop to establish broader areas of cooperation and development in identification of the major issues and new opportunities in Chicago, Glasgow, and Chennai (and similar cities) that can be tackled through big and open data, exploring data availability across the three cities, identifying key stakeholders and modes of engagement with stakeholders to maximize impact from application of big and open data analytical techniques in the partner cities and key data sets and improved access to those datasets. It also helped in identifying and deploying relevant data models and ontologies and enhancement of relevant analytical techniques.

Key faculty members engaged in this project was Charlie Catlett, Director, Urban Center for Computation and Data Senior Fellow, Computation Institute Senior Computer Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory & Visiting Artist at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Empirical Analysis of Indian Supreme Court Decisions

The Indian Supreme Court has been called “the most powerful court in the world” for its wide jurisdiction, its expansive understanding of its own powers, and the billion plus people under its authority. Yet for an institution that exercises immense public power and enjoys a high degree of legitimacy, no account exists of who was approaching the Court in these cases, for what purposes, and with what levels of success. Both due to its fragmented bench structure (where cases are usually decided by only two or three out of thirty-one judges) as well as the large volume of cases, scholars and policy makers have a very uneven picture of the court’s functioning: deep knowledge about the more visible, “high-profile” cases, and near-absolute silence about more mundane, below the radar, but often equally important, decisions.

This project, reflected a collaboration and was the most ambitious data collection on the Indian Supreme Court to date and provided a wealth of information on the functioning of the Court, its effects on litigants, and the behavior of its judges. It aimed to fill this knowledge gap and provide an account of the everyday functioning of the Court through empirical analysis of all cases decided by the Supreme Court in the last five years, i.e., 2010–2014. The broad objective of the project was to understand the social identity of the litigants that approach the court, the types of matter they bring to the court, the levels of success that different groups of litigants have before the Court, and the decision patterns of the various judges of the Supreme Court.

The principal faculty who organized this project was William Hubbard, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School. 

Global Capitalism and Unevenness Rethought: Modern India

Since India’s complex confrontation with colonization and imperialism in the 17th Century, its history can be characterized as a one of social, political and intellectual responses to, and interactions with, new forms of global structurings and imperatives that are complex, dynamic, and heterogeneous. This heterogeneity has frequently taken the form of unevenness. Moreover, if one glances beyond urban India, the seven hundred million who live in India’s rural areas again have complex and uneven relationships to national and global capitalism. At issue here is not just the immense inequalities that pervade Indian society, but cultural and political unevenness.

This project aimed, theoretically, comparatively, and empirically, to make sense of this unevenness and its implications for political practice. It explained the production of unevenness in India in relation to larger global processes and structures, understanding of different temporal rhythms in modern India and to what extent could such a multiplicity offer political possibilities.

The principal faculty engaged was Moishe Postone, Department of History, University of Chicago.

Demand and Inventory Prediction for Perishable Goods in Indian Market

Fruits and vegetables account for the largest portion, Rs 13,300 crore - accounting for 18 percent of India’s fruit and vegetable production. Two of the biggest contributors to food losses are the lack of refrigerated transport and the lack of high quality cold storage facilities for food manufacturers and food sellers. While largely an issue of infrastructure, one can think of ways of mitigating wastage at the retail level. The objective of this project was to attempt to make some progress on the pernicious problem of wastage at the retail level. The project also aimed to design effective combination offers by identifying the products which sell together based on their sales history, identifying the right price and discount point that maximises sales and return on investment, forecast the demand accurately at the SKU-store level, optimise the inventory for the various products and designing method which will help in reducing wastage for the retailer.

The key faculty member engaged in this project was Pradeep K. Chintagunta, Joseph T. and Bernice S. Lewis Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing, Department of Marketing, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.

Post - Retirement Employment of Judges in Governement Positions: Resource Utilization or Encroaching Judicial Independence?

Judicial independence is a sacrosanct principle in the modern world, even if it is somewhat difficult to define. The Indian Judiciary has fared well in building a reputation for independence, as well as for protecting of rights and liberties of the citizens of one of the largest democracies of the world.

This project investigated the potential conflict between judicial independence, impartiality and post-retirement employment of judges in government-appointed positions by undertaking empirical research. Using a mixed method approach, the project integrated the Indian case into a broader literature on judicial reputation and quality.

The key faculty organizer of this project was Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago Law School.

Judicial Training Workshop on a Rights-Based Approach to Tuberculosis in India

This project built with the Delhi Center on TB and human rights and was aimed at training judges, judicial officials and attorneys on the relationship between human rights and tuberculosis under domestic and international law through legal education and awareness building regard the broader policy environment; educating judges, judicial officials and attorneys on the biomedical, social and economic drivers of TB, in an effort to sensitize them to the concerns of people affected by TB and assisted in  building relationships between the Indian judiciary and other developing country judiciaries in order to further develop and promote a rights-based approach to TB.

Through a workshop at the Center in Delhi, presentations by legal experts in Indian constitutional law and international human rights law as well as influential judges (from India, South Africa, Kenya and Australia) and expert presentations on the medical and public health aspects of TB from Indian and American physicians were provided. Additionally presentations were also made by legal experts in Indian constitutional law and international human rights law . The overall objective was for judges to apply the knowledge learnt during the workshop when they heard cases involving TB in the courts.

Key organisers included Evan Lyon, MD – Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago; Brian Citro, JD - Clinical Lecturer in Law, International Human Rights Clinic, University of Chicago Law School; Kiran Raj Pandey, MD - Physician and Health Services Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago and Mihir Mankad, MA, JD - Health Policy Advisor, Save the Children UK.

Culture, Society, Religion, Arts

Bilingual Literary Readings

Very little literary news originating in South Asia languages reaches readers in the US despite rich and quite living literary traditions in over a dozen languages throughout the subcontinent. Indeed, only about three percent of literature in all belles lettres genres from all world languages, translated into English, finds its way to the US literary marketplace each year over the past six years, this number has averaged 415 titles per year. Ranging from one to a high of six, the mean number of titles from South Asian languages has been all from the four languages of Bangla, Hindi, Tamil, and Urdu. South Asia accounts for some one fifth of the world’s population, but literature originating in its languages typicallyconstitutes 6 percent of translated titles or of all  literary titles published annually in the US. It has taken over thirty years for a living Hindi novelist to be published by a US publishing house in English—a disturbing fact for such a  major world language.

This project aimed to change the above situation and nourish key components of the literary ecosystem that are necessary for quality literary translations to be both written and published from writers to translators to editors and publishers.

Discussions were held at the Center in Delhi and featured award winning and prolific Bangla to English literary translator - Arunava Sinha and other renowned translators and authors of India - Rakshanda Jalil and Uday Prakash who recited their translations. Additionally, Arunava Sinha visited University of Chicago and had meaningful interactions with the community of students, faculty of Bangal scholars and literary translators with the goal of helping to foster much needed practices of translation.

This project was organized by Jason Grunebaum and Thibaut D’Hubert, South Asian Languages and Civilizations (SALC), University of Chicago.

The Indian “New Wave” Revisited: Cinema, Politics, and Social Formations, 1964- 1977

In 2014, the Center approved a proposal to research and produce an annotated repository of the Art Cinema of India. This project showcased the initial research and enabled visitors (through a three day event) to browse through the database that had been created, and view a selection of some rare films in digitally restored version. It culminated in a session where researchers who had been involved with the project and several eminent film scholars from both India and the USA (including from the University of Chicago itself) participated in a debate that addresses some of the possible outcomes of this research.

The key goals of this project were (a)  to help students and teachers of Indian history, politics, and cinema use films as a means of accessing and analyzing contemporary historyand politics; (b) to establish overlaps between trends in Indian cinema and global filmmaking, particularly “third cinema,” “cinema novo,” and post-1968 French film collectives; and (c) to educate scholars about the thriving currents in alternative cinema in India that have in recent years been drowned by the dominance of Bollywood.

The organizers of this project were Rochona Majumdar, Associate Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations/Cinema and Media Studies, Daniel Morgan, Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Studies, and Jacqueline Stewart, Professor, Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago.

The 17th International Conference on Maharashtra: Culture and Society

This conference brought together scholars of Maharashtra across disciplines and countries for intensive discussion on the theme of “Language and Power.” Like most South Asian regions, Maharashtra is formally a linguistic state founded on one language, Marathi, but is in practice a multi-lingual region, and language practices of all kinds are shot through with considerations of caste, class, gender and locality.

Additionally, this conference drew on seminal theoretical formulations in sociology, critiques of modernity, and post-colonialism that underscore the deep imbrication of language and power in fields as diverse as education, media, literature, historiography, bureaucracy, and, not least, academic scholarship. It addressed contradictory linguistic phenomena, asked how language practices (literature, oral communication, scholarship, scripture, translation, slogans, slang) and policy (pedagogy, textbooks, media, signboards, forms) operate on an everyday basis, what gaps existed between policy and practice, and the ways in which these bolster existing power relations, but also provide spaces of resistance.

The key faculty organizer for this conference was Philip Engblom, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago.

Digital Dictionaries of South Asia and the Hashiya Project: Planning New Collaborations, Resources, and Methods

This project built upon more than a decade and a half of collaborations creating the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia and a more recent project under the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society, during the first year of its existence, for a pilot project on “A Worldwide Literature: Jāmī (1414-1492) in the Dar al-Islam and Beyond.”

A workshop was held which brought together participants from other projects at the University; external evaluators of grant-funded initiatives; scholars in the humanities and social sciences from South Asia, with an emphasis on those from literature, linguistics, and language pedagogy; and technology specialists from the subcontinent. The key aim was to plan for the next phase of the on the literary and linguistic cultures of South Asia. This workshop also resulted in plans to make accessible more texts for the study of South Asia, a more thorough understanding of the enhanced tools required for computational analysis of those texts, and an improve awareness of resources required for language pedagogy. Results from the workshop were disseminated via project websites maintained by the Library and the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society.

Key faculty organizers of this project were James Nye and Laura Ring, Library; and Thibaut d’Hubert, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago.

Music, Modernity and The Public Sphere

This project was premised on the idea that music is a central feature of how modernity came to be “performed”. Modernity rearranges the relationship between private and public realms, and in some instances even constitutes the distinction between such realms. New social arrangements gave rise to new forms of experience, whether collective or individualized. Experiencing music became an important part of the modernization process. The key aim of the project was to assemble and refine the conceptual frameworks for understanding the changes brought about by, in and through music.

A workshop was held at the Center in Delhi and the concept of the ‘public sphere’ and its validity in terms of how it can or cannot capture these kinds of changes were discussed. Specific cultural and historical case studies of musical “modernization” globally were analyzed.

The key faculty member engaged in this project was Thomas Christensen, Avalon Foundation Professor of Music and the Humanities, University of Chicago

Science, Energy, Medicine, Public Health

Engaging vulnerable populations and policy makers around new HIV prevention – Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

As a central motivation for this project, leaders from community-based organizations were brought together for MSM and female sex workers in Hyderabad and New Delhi as well as NGOs and governmental agencies who worked in preventing the spread of HIV to discuss the lack of knowledge about PrEP among high risk groups in India. A workshop was held and through a presentation of results, various sessions established the need for incorporating new prevention strategies to curb the HIV epidemic and conversations were initiated in developing collaborative projects that evaluate the spread of novel HIV prevention knowledge through social and sexual networks. Additionally, questions and concerns were also raised about PrEP during the sessions, in which some of the perceptions about obstacles to deploying PrEP widely in the fight against HIV were adressed. During the final session, Dr. John Schneider presented the designs of the two Chicago-based PrEP studies and discussed the ways in which these projects could be adapted to the Indian context.

The key faculty engaged in this project was Dr. John Schneiders, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine & Public Health Sciences (Epidemiology) at the University of Chicago.

Heat Islands and the Long-Term Environmental Impact of Urbanization

Cities are the engine of economic development and growth in the developing world. Yet the environmental stresses created by dense urbanization and industrialization pose fundamental development challenges in India. There is an urgent need for research and broader policy discussion to understand the environmental stresses associated with urbanization, quantify their welfare impacts and design new solutions. A seminar series hosted by EPIC India at the University of Chicago India Center was organized around the theme of urbanization and sustainable development. The city of New Delhi typifies the environmental challenges associated with urban growth in India, and the proposed seminar series attracted  significant interest and participation by researchers, academics, policymakers and civil society organizations. Research examined the impact of urbanization on local ambient temperatures, owing to urban heat island effects.

The project involved a collaboration between Dr. Anant Sudarshan at EPIC (University of Chicago) and Dr. Shravan Hanasoge at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. Seminars provided a locus for new research collaborations with Indian partners and also emphasized the role of the India Center and EPIC-India as a hub for cutting edge, inter-disciplinary environmental research on India. The associated seminar series catalyzed the creation of a community of researchers within Chicago and India, interested in these problems.

Designing Solutions for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in India

Adolescents comprise 19% of India’s population, with 240 million ages 10-19 years. Among those aged 15-19 years, over one-fourth (28%) of young women are married compared to a mere 3% of young men. Only 46% of young women attend secondary school, compared to 57% of young men. While gender disaggregated statistics on information, communication, and technology (ICT) access are limited, the extant literature support a gender digital divide across countries and continents, developed and developing nations.

The overall goal of this project was to collaborate with Indian partners to develop a cost-effective, impactful, scalable intervention. The intervention relied on digital media and addressed a distal or proximal determinant of poor reproductive health. Using techniques honed at Ci3 in the GCC Lab, a series of innovative workshops was hosted that enabled the organizers to develop concept documents for larger proposals. Results were communicated to larger audiences and academic papers were written about the design process.

The faculty organizers were Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH is Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics, founder and director of Ci3, co-PI of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab (GCC Lab), and Dean for Diversity and Inclusion of The University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Division, Patrick Jagoda, PhD is Assistant Professor of English at The University of Chicago, coeditor of the journal Critical Inquiry, and cofounder and co-PI of the GCC Lab, Alicia Menendez, PhD is Research Associate/Associate Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy and the Department of Economics at The University of Chicago, as well as Principal Research Scientist at the National Opinion Research Center and John Schneider, MD, MPH is a network epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist in the Departments of Medicine and Health Studies at The University of Chicago and is Director of the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination.

India's Biodiversity: The Importance of Reserves

The purpose of this project was to bring together scientists and conservation biologists from both India and abroad. The meeting consisted of formal presentations over three mornings, with students and others giving submitted talks in the afternoon, and public lectures in the evening. Both general, wide-ranging issues were considered, including how development, climate change, habitat loss, etc. reflects on the importance of reserves and what reserve edges meant, not only as a threat to the reserve itself from outside, but as potentially providing economic benefits to people living near the reserve. Additionally, a very specific topic was taken up which could help in achieving something materially, and that would be a case study of the Hoollongapur reserve, Assam.

Trevor Price, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago was the principal organizer for this project.

Judicial Training Workshop on a Rights-Based Approach to Tuberculosis in India

This training workshop on the rights-based approach to TB was conducted to layout strategy in order to educate judges and lawyers on the experiences of people with TB and the role human rights law plays in combatting the disease. In particular, the workshop aimed to build on previous work with the Delhi Center on TB and human rights, specifically the December 2014 workshop titled “Building a Rights-Based
Approach to TB” and September 2014 TB Activist Training Session. It focussed on training judges, judicial officials and attorneys on the relationship between human rights and tuberculosis under domestic and international law through legal education and awareness building with regard to the broader policy environment, and educate judges, judicial officials and attorneys on the biomedical, social and economic drivers of TB, in an effort to sensitize them to the concerns of people affected by TB. Further, it built relationships between the Indian judiciary and other developing country judiciaries in order to further develop and promote a rights-based approach to TB.

The key organizers were Evan Lyon, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Brian Citro, JD - Clinical Lecturer in Law, International Human Rights Clinic,
University of Chicago Law School, Kiran Raj Pandey, MD - Physician and Health Services Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Mihir Mankad, MA, JD - Health Policy Advisor, Save the Children UK, along with Anand Grover, LLB - United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health; Executive Director, HIV/AIDS United, Lawyers Collective.

Group Psychotherapy and Recovery from Addiction

For addictions treatment professionals, a major area of interest has been addiction as a family and organizational disease. Experience and training in group psychotherapy had been central in the identification, recognition and management of family and organizational dynamics.

The goal of this project was to bring together addiction treatment and group psychotherapy professionals from India to examine the group dynamics of recovery from addiction. The methods of experiential learning central to the project facilitated collaborative exploration and exchange of challenges and successes in working with the recovering addicts. 

The key organizers of this project were Jeffrey D. Roth, Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago; Deborah Spitz, Professor of Psychiatry; Vice Chair for Education and Academic Affairs, Co-Director of Residency Training, University of Chicago, Department of Psychiatry; and Suma Jacob, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Director of Autism Research, University of Minnesota, Adjunct Faculty, Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Formation of a Strategic Partnership in Cancer Research between India and the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago has a culture of innovation that is complemented by the focus on innovation in India as a top priority of the next ten years. Unlike the U.S., India is planning to double its science budget during the next 5 years. By combining strengths in biotechnology, computation and data analysis, as well as human resources, an unprecedented opportunity is available to establish an ongoing collaboration and make significant progress in this challenging disease. A two-day meeting was held which comprised a set of 30-minute talks on various aspects of cancer biology, including: (a) genomic drivers of cancers of epidemiological importance and of common interest to US and Indian researchers, (b) impact of environmental and life-style transition in India on the landscape of cancer in India, (c) epigenetic and metabolic correlates of cancer, (d) tumor heterogeneity and evolution of cancer genomes, (e) cancer stem cells, (f) single cell analysis of cancer genomes, (g) integrative analysis in cancer biology. The purpose of these talks was primarily was to exemplify the strengths and requirements of researchers from the US and from India.

An additional aim of this project was to initiate a conversation between researchers at the University of Chicago and at various Indian institutions that has led to joint research and capacity-building initiatives in cancer research. The intent was to leverage respective strengths in the areas of genomics, signal transduction, big data analysis, and targeted therapies to undertake novel research that not only have immediate applied to cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic treatment, but also served as a model for addressing other diseases.

Marsha R. Rosner, Ben May Department for Cancer Research, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, University of Chicago and Partha P. Majumder, Director National Institute of Biomedical Genomics Kalyani, India were the principal organizers.