Professor leads new international initiative at Penn State Mont Alto

Dr. Somjit Barat

Somjit Barat invites faculty and staff to participate in the efforts of the newly established International and Intercultural programs Office (IIPO) at Penn State Mont Alto.

Credit: Debra collins

MONT ALTO, Pa. -- Somjit Barat, associate professor of marketing at Penn State Mont Alto, has recently been named coordinator of International and Intercultural Programs. In his new role, Barat will head Mont Alto’s newly established International and Intercultural Programs Office (IIPO) and lead the campus in the development and coordination of multicultural events.

The new initiative, which was made possible through an $11,500 grant last spring from Penn State’s Equal Opportunity Planning Committee in the Office of Educational Equity, is meant to enhance intercultural and international programming in the curriculum and co-curriculum at Mont Alto and increase the number of international students on campus which, in turn, will enrich the educational experiences of all students.

The grant is matched dollar-for-dollar by the campus for a total of $23,000 and will fund increased international and intercultural programming on the Mont Alto campus, as well as student trips to cultural museums, primarily at locations throughout Washington, D.C. It will also award stipends for Mont Alto students to participate in study abroad.

"We hope that this initiative will increase the cultural and global competencies of our current students and make Mont Alto a more welcoming and supportive environment for a diverse group of international and domestic students in the ensuing years,” said Penn State Mont Alto Chancellor Francis K. Achampong.

The first trip will be to India this winter, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 8, 2016. Students who enroll in ASIA 197 — a course about India’s cultural and economic diversity — will also have the opportunity to go on a 13-day trip while studying an approved topic of their own interest as it relates to their major, discipline or degree.

Barat, along with Deborah Mirdamadi, Penn State Mont Alto instructor in mathematics, and Elizabeth Brantley, Penn State Mont Alto instructor in forest technology, will lead the group. Some destinations include Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), where one of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity is located, New Delhi, the Taj Mahal, and the Sadhana Forest.

“This course is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students,” said Barat. “Due to globalization, we must prepare our students for cultural heterogeneity, and traveling to a foreign country like India, where there is so much diversity, is the best option. In addition, since all three faculty members have considerable international exposure, the students cannot afford to miss this unique experience.”

Students from any campus (including non-Penn State students), studying any major, can enroll in ASIA 197, "Incredible India," and will earn four credits — two for the course and two for the trip. To learn more about "Incredible India," contact Mirdamadi at [email protected], Barat at [email protected], or Brantley at [email protected].

Barat also conducts research and disseminates his findings through national and international conferences on such diverse topics as consumer promotions, the effects of outreach activities on faculty promotion and tenure, the ethics of outsourcing drug trials to third world countries, students' perceptions about the sales profession, small town banking services, and Bollywood.