Design for Sustainable Development Discovery Bangalore, India

Design for Sustainable Development: Discovery — Bangalore, India

  1. Program Details

    On this journey of discovery to Bangalore, India, we'll learn about solutions to societal and environmental challenges (e.g. water, energy, waste, health, agriculture) through the eyes of entrepreneurs, local leaders, and communities. This May-term course is open to undergrad and grad students from all majors. The program is organized by Acara, the grand challenge innovation program at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

    Location Bangalore, India
    Term May Session
    Housing Hostel, Hotel
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Institute on the Environment

    Program Eligibility

    GPA 2.5
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Juniors, Seniors, Graduate Students
    Language No Language Prerequisite
  2. About Design for Sustainable Development: Discovery — Bangalore, India

    Travel to Bangalore, India’s fast-growing entrepreneurship hub. Where rural meets urban, where poverty meets wealth, where environmental and quality of life issues are distinctly intertwined. You will work in teams with local partners to research and design sustainable solutions to real social and environmental challenges.

    • Travel with undergraduate and graduate students from every discipline
    • Learn with Indian college students participating in the course
    • Develop skills in intercultural competence and design ethnography
    • Gain appreciation for India’s delicious food and diverse culture
    • Meet both your Global Perspectives and Technology and Society LE requirements, and potentially an Engineering technical elective.
    • CSE students: This course qualifies for a CEGE Tech elective (and other CSE departments have approved it as a tech elective in the past when students have petitioned). Mechanical Engineering students can count this course for "Specialization credit" (please note that you cannot receive specialization credits and LE credits for the same course.)

    Housing & Meals

    Students will spend the majority of their stay in a centrally located college campus in Bangalore. On weekend field visits students will be housed in cottages or host families home and enjoy delicious Indian cuisine throughout the program.

    Application Deadline

    Open until filled, contact to see if space is still available

    Program Dates

    05/16/2020 - 06/07/2020


    CEGE 4581

    Interested in sustainable development? In this life-transforming Acara course, learn the skills and mindsets needed to address complex grand challenges while exploring Bangalore, one of the world’s mega-cities. Indian students take the class with you as you learn about innovative solutions and work on real community problems.

    CEGE 5570

    This is a multidisciplinary program where students will explore engineering and entrepreneurial solutions to international development challenges. Some of the challenges we will learn about include clean water, energy, waste, agriculture, transportation, and health. The course, open to graduate students from all majors, commonly counts as an elective option.

    Program Leader

    Natasha Wright

    Natasha Wright is an incoming Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering (ME) at the University of Minnesota. She received her PhD in the Global Engineering and Research Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research and teaching is focused at the intersection of the technical and socioeconomic sides of design, as relevant to designing solutions in developing and emerging markets. Natasha is passionate about helping students contextualize problems in the complex social, economic, and political landscape in which they exist, working together in multi-disciplinary teams, and utilizing design theory to develop potential solutions to those problems. Natasha’s experience in India includes implementing the use of electrodialysis (ED) desalination as a means of treating salty groundwater in rural areas. Her research has shown how to reduce capital and lifetime cost of village-scale ED systems by up to 40%. She has since installed pilot systems currently operating in India, Gaza, and New Mexico. Natasha’s work in water-energy systems led her inclusion in Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” in 2016. She has served as an instructor at Tufts University and first led Acara’s Design for Sustainable Development - India course in May 2019.


    Treasure Hunt

    Enjoy a city-wide treasure hunt with a local Bangalore college student, learning about India through the eyes of a peer.

    Energy Alternatives

    We will visit low-income communities to learn about alternative energy solutions with local energy company, SELCO.

    Community-managed Water

    Bangalore, a city of over 10 million people, is running out of water. Discover water challenges and approaches in both high-income and low-income water-stressed communities with consultants from Biome Environmental.

    Rural development challenges and organic farming

    We will spend a weekend enjoying the the peaceful existence at Navadarshanam, an organic farm outside of Bangalore.

    Trash Trail

    Exploring Bangalore’s waste system with Hasiru Dala, including visits to neighborhoods during garbage collection, segregation facility, landfill, scrap market, and recycling facilities.

    Program Fee

    The program fee is an estimated $5000 (to be finalized by mid-February) and includes three credits, roundtrip airfare, and all program expenses except the cost of a passport, India visa, immunizations, or personal spending money. Ecolab Experiential Education scholarships are available to students with financial need.

    More Information

    Alumni from the course regularly comment that it was great to be in a class with students from so many disciplines, to work on real sustainable development projects (which some have continued to work on once they returned to the U.S. with fellowship funding from Acara), and that they loved having students from India as part of the course. This class has been offered for ten years and always receives excellent course evaluations.

    "My three weeks in India were three of the most eye-opening and incredible weeks of my life. I was inspired by people I met, challenged to rethink my views on culture and sustainability, and pushed to learn more than I could’ve imagined. I went to India feeling lost on what I wanted to do with my life, and left feeling excited by opportunity and empowered to enact change and pursue a career path I find meaningful. It also helped me make connections and opened doors to start on that path; I don’t say it lightly when I say that the trip changed the course of my life." -Student from 2019 course

  3. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

    Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term May Session 2020
    Program Name Design for Sustainable Development: Discovery - Bangalore, India
    Track Name Design for Sustainable Development: Discovery - Bangalore, India
    Country India


    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.

    Non-University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for this program.

    Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.


    When you submit your online application, you will be assigned an application checklist that includes:

    • First Step session
    • University of Minnesota Student Release and Waiver Form

    Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist.

    Next Steps

    1. You will receive an automated email message indicating your application was received.
    2. Follow the instructions on your application checklist to submit the Student Release and Waiver Form.
    3. Your application is not considered complete until the form has been received and you have completed the First Step module. Your completed application will be forwarded to the program leader in the sponsoring college/department for review.
    4. The program leader will notify the Learning Abroad Center of acceptance decisions. If accepted, you will be notified via email and assigned a confirmation checklist, which includes:
      • Health Information Form
      • Confirmation and Payment Agreement
      • Online Health & Safety Orientation
    5. Login to the online application to review the confirmation checklist and submit the required items.
    6. Once you submit all items, your participation will be confirmed and your student account will be billed for the program deposit.
    7. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application and submit a Cancel Request. You must also notify your program leader of your cancellation.