Project Awards Summary, 2017-18

Business, Economics, Law, and Policy

Social Impact Leadership Series

The landscape of social impact funding in India has been rapidly changing, and private equity and impact investing funding are growing. There is a broad trend emerging in India that looks beyond traditional philanthropy to newer methods of impactful engagement. This includes but is not limited to CSR, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and other alternative funding models.

The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at Chicago Booth aims to hold a public event on this topic with the intent to address the issues with thought leaders and influence practice. A panel discussion on social impact funding to include philanthropists, private equity professionals, and impact investors will also be hosted.

The key faculty organizers for this project are Robert H. Gertner, Faculty Director, The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at Chicago Booth; and Caroline Grossman, Director Strategic Initiatives, The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at Chicago Booth, and Adjunct Asst. Prof. of Strategy, Chicago Booth.

Characterizing the Skill Space in India’s Urban Informal Labor Market

The vast majority of India’s labor force is comprised of informal workers. Apart from the lack of employment/social security benefits, such workers are also characterized by high barriers to job entry and low job mobility. Whereas in formal labor markets worldwide, there are pathways to advertise skills required for different jobs and skills possessed by different workers, the skill space of informal workers in India is silent. This project is a pilot study to understand and characterize the skills and opportunities space, starting with an urban Indian environment like Delhi. Computer science techniques will be used to survey employers of informal workers on the demand side and prospective workers on the supply side.

The principal faculty organizer of this project is James Evans, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago in collaboration with Sarthak Gaurav, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Amitabh Chaudhary, University of Chicago

Games to Advance Gender Equality amongst Youth in India

India has a long and well-documented history of playing games. Interest in games cuts across age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Ci3, an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Chicago, aims to leverage the Indian gaming culture to promote gender equality. This project aims to develop and test a novel-game based intervention with Indian youth. It will be implemented in partnership with MAMTA- HIMC, an India-based public health organization, focused on improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and rights. Ci3 and MAMTA –HIMC plans to host a week-long gaming workshop including the research protocol, workshop curriculum, and materials at the UChicago Center in Delhi.

The goal of this project is to learn more about the use of games for improving gender norms in India. The game will then be assessed using pre and post-tests in slum areas of Delhi to get pilot data on its effects on attitudes, norms and behavioral intentions regarding gender norms.

Key faculty organizers of this project are Melissa L. Gilliam, MD, MPH, The Ellen Block Professor of Health Justice, Vice Provost, Academic Leadership, Advancement, and Diversity, University of Chicago; Alicia S. Menendez, Research Associate (Assistant Professor), Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago in collaboration with Ci3 team and MAMTA- HIMC.

Mini-Conference and New Data Collection for Empirical Study of the Indian Supreme Court

This project is a collaboration among researchers at the University of Chicago and universities in India and the United States. This project will provide a wealth of information on the functioning of the Court, its effects on litigants, and the behavior of its judges. 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 level of success.

This project aims 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 recent period 2010-2015. A conference will be organized at the UChicago Center in Delhi on empirical studies of Indian courts to gather qualitative information and feedback to complement quantitative results.

The key faculty organizer for this conference is William H.J. Hubbard, Professor of Law and Ronald H. Coase Teaching Scholar, University of Chicago.

Culture, Society, Religion, Arts

Visual South Asia in Space and Time- Connecting Objects, Texts, People, and Places

Audio and visual resources are inextricably linked in the study of modern South Asia. Paintings, murals, photographs, maps, musical performances, language articulation, dance, theater, and others are grounded in both the aural and visual experience, and constitute the fabric of human expression. This project will build upon previous workshops in locating material and archives and evaluating technological processes as they relate to institutional work in digitization. The larger aim will be to create a federated and searchable database of audio and visual digitized sources to which we will encourage institutions to contribute their archived materials. A workshop at the Center in Delhi will continue exploration of ontologies, the historical and social grounding of classification systems used for images; and focus on training in techniques for computational analysis of images and exploration of analytical tools from big science for data-mining in South Asian visual sources and continue with collaborative exploration of knowledge production in the field of visual culture.

Key Faculty engaged in this project are Niall Atkinson, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Art History and the College; Philip V. Bohlman, Mary Werkman Distinguished Service Professor of Music and the Humanities; James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia; Laura Ring, Assistant Southern Asia Librarian and Anna Seastrand, Collegiate Assistant Professor and Harper Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts.

Slum Clearance, Urban Restructuring, and (Re)Emergent Communities in Mumbai

As part of a broader global process of urbanization, number of cities around the world are engaged in bold urban restructuring efforts focused on eradicating slum areas and reshaping the urban landscape, in part in order to better compete as “global cities.” The city of Mumbai is in many ways emblematic of these efforts. Little empirical research exists on the lived experiences of former slum dwellers post-resettlement or on the nature of these communities into which they have been moved. This project will seek to understand the impact of resettlement on individuals, families and communities and dynamics of both urban restructuring policies and local community life that contribute to relocated residents current circumstances and well-being.

The principal faculty engaged in the project is Robert Chaskin, Faculty Director of the Urban Network, Professor, Deputy Dean for Strategic Initiatives, University of Chicago in collaboration with scholars from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Creative Writing as an Emerging Transnational Discipline: US, UK, India, Hong Kong

The global climate for reading, writing, publishing and dissemination of texts is changing more rapidly than ever before. If the culture of print modernity faces a crisis today, it is crucial to reimagine that crisis as an opportunity to open up new possibilities for literary production in a transnational context. A two-day symposium on creative writing as an emerging transnational discipline is planned at the UChicago Center in Delhi. The objective of the symposium is twofold: the long term goal is to conceptualize possibilities for the development of creative writing as an institutionalized domain of knowledge within an emerging global context; in a more immediate sense, the most productive ways of shaping pedagogical discourse around literary arts within a transnational paradigm, re-imagining discussions around writing in relation to the developing creative writing programs at Chicago, Ashoka, East Anglia, and beyond will be considered.

Srikanth Reddy, Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, University of Chicago will be collaborating with (name) Ashoka University to organize this event.

Science, Energy, Medicine, Public Health

Adapting new technologies to pressing problems in energy, environment and public health 

Recent breakthroughs in sensor technology and computing hardware are creating unprecedented opportunities for developing solutions to a range of complex societal challenges. While these developments have already been transformative in some arenas, progress in some of the most difficult environmental and social issues remains stagnant. Traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in India and globally. The pervasive availability of low-cost sensors (accelerometers, GPS, cameras) is creating multiple opportunities to develop safety interventions. During the course of the project, multiple meetings at the Delhi Center between various groups of researchers will be organized. Two larger meetings/workshops of the project team and other stakeholders, notably including operators of vehicle fleets – one meeting will be held approximately six months after project initiation, and one towards the end of the project period.

The purpose of these meetings would be to understand the practicalities of use of device by commercial drivers, identify institutional partners willing to deploy the devices as part of a large-scale field trial, and disseminate findings from the pilot work conducted for this study.

Kavi Bhalla, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology Global Health, University of Chicago will be collaborating on this project with Girish Agrawal, Shiv Nadar University.  

Strategic Partnership in Cancer Research between India and UChicago (3rd meeting) 

In 2015 and 2016, the University of Chicago Center in Delhi hosted meetings on The Formation of a Strategic Partnership in Cancer Research, organized by Professor Marsha Rosner of the University of Chicago and Professor Partha Majumder of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), India. The aim of the initial workshop was to initiate a conversation between researchers at the University of Chicago and at various Indian institutions, geared towards undertaking joint research and capacity-building initiatives in cancer biology. The goal was to leverage respective strengths in the areas of genomics, signal transduction, big data analysis, and targeted therapies to advance novel research that will not only have immediate application to cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic treatment, but also to serve as a model for addressing other diseases. A subsequent workshop is now planned at the Delhi Center focusing on reviewing the data from collaborative research initiatives involving the application of technology to the analysis of blood samples and tumor obtained from breast cancer patients in India and developing a strategy for moving forward on this research initiative.

The organizer of this workshop is Marsha Rosner, Charles B. Huggins Professor, Ben May Department for Cancer Research; Senior Fellow, Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology, University of Chicago.

Joint Symposium, Research Collaboration & Referral Ctr for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a growing disease in developing India. Efforts to create more awareness in diagnosing and management are ongoing. The objective of this project is to promote academic collaboration and diagnostic collaboration across the continents, primarily focused on IBD. It also aims to achieve future international exchange of trainees for the enrichment of diagnostic exposure. A workshop will be organized at the Center in Delhi to create a liaison for exchange between the pathologists from University of Chicago and India, with a particular interest in various aspects of IBD. The primary objectives include researching collaboration initiatives with a focus on combining the educational strengths of both countries leading to better understanding of pathogenesis of disease, laying the background for future training collaboration and facilitating the mission of global education, promoting visibility of University of Chicago and exploring opportunities for telepathology related expert consultation.

The key faculty organizer of this workshop is Namrata Setia, MD. Assistant Professor of Pathology, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago in collaboration with GB Pant Hospital.

Khorana/Bose Program at the University of Chicago

This proposal seeks to cement a summer research fellowship program called the Khorana Program (now administered by the Madison- based non-profit WINStep Forward -WSF). It is a student exchange program meant to enable Indian Scholars to spend a research summer at UChicago. It would simultaneously facilitate research summers in India for UChicago undergraduate/graduate students. The students will be matched with faculty based on overlapping research interests, suitability of the student's training and mentor's expectations/requirements. It would help students develop critical and creative thinking skills as well as experience lab research in an independent environment. It is meant to nurture thought leaders of the future by providing them with an invaluable experience to build perspective, early in their careers, to engage scientifically and otherwise on an international level.

The key faculty engaged in this project is Yamuna Krishnan, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago in collaboration with Aseem Z Ansari, Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin- Madison.

Tata Memorial Hospital-UChicago Joint Conference on Head and Neck Cancer

Cancers of the head and neck (HNC) have a higher incidence in India than in any other country worldwide and is the 6th most common cancer in the US. Overall survival for HNC remains low despite technological advancement in early detection, improved imaging, surgical innovation, and better chemoradiotherapy. Moreover, the effect of HNC on patient quality of life and the aftereffects of treatment on survivors are significant. Understanding the molecular etiology of HNC, developing screening programs for high-risk patients, personalizing treatment protocols and establishing support programs for survivors is critical to improving the patient experience when faced with this disease. A two-day conference at the UChicago Center in Delhi is planned to establish a working relationship between leading faculty at major cancer centers in Mumbai and Chicago and develop active collaborations in order to face these challenges in the field of HNC. This project will establish a paradigm for joint Indo-American team research. This conference would catalyze a partnership that would allow the design of preventative measures and molecular therapies and yield insights into an array of relevant aspects of cancer research.

The principal faculty organizer of this conference is Jayant Pinto, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Chicago in collaboration with Anil D'Cruz, M.B.B.S., M.S., D.N.B., F.R.C.S. (Hon) Director of Tata Memorial Hospital, Professor and Chief, Department of Head and Neck Oncology.

The Role of Parks and Sanctuaries in Protecting India's Biodiversity: Extensions and a Case Study

India has lost few animals and plants over the past 100 years, but many populations are now dangerously low, and rapid development is increasing threats on nature. Development is also creating opportunities for conservation, especially through eco-tourism. The main goal of this project are to complete a position paper, to consider possibilities for active intervention in the field, and to consider specifically the case of Hollangapur Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary as  a model for the way reserves can be expanded in an economically viable way.

The principal faculty involved in this project is Trevor Price, Professor of Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago alongwith Pratap Singh, Wildlife Institute of India, and Udayan Borthakur, Aaranyak, Guwahati.