Social Change Semester-Bajaj Rural Development Lab - Carnegie Mellon University

Social Change Semester

The Social Change Semester brings Carnegie Mellon students from Pittsburgh to Qatar and India. Our goal: to learn how to change the world by partnering with those who are already making a difference.

The semester begins in Doha, Qatar, where we collaborate with migrant workers from South Asia. While teaching these workers English, we learn from them about Qatar, South Asia, and the inequalities of travel. We learn to recognize the privilege of studying abroad in a world in which many travel out of necessity.

Discussing Sustainable AgricultureFrom Qatar, we fly to rural central India, where we live at Mahatma Gandhi's ashram in Sevagram, Maharashtra. We work with the Bajaj Foundation to carry forward Gandhi's legacy. We assist the Bajaj Foundation and its village partners with projects in water management, alternative energy, women's empowerment, sustainable agriculture, and village industries.

From Sevagram, we travel to one of India's largest cities, Chennai. There, we partner with educational organizations that focus on educating and empowering underprivileged children: the Avanti Fellows and Visions for Global Empowerment.

Throughout the semester, students take courses and conduct research, while designing and implementing service projects in collaboration with our local partners.

By directly engaging in the many challenges and opportunities facing Qatar and India, students gain the confidence, purpose, global awareness, and intercultural skills that are best learned via service-based experiential education overseas.

Participatory Rural AppraisalWe learn with our partners how to mobilize social innovation in pursuit of social justice. Together, we leverage CMU's resources to advance the work of our community partners in Qatar and India.

The Social Change Semester is co-directed by Emily Mohn-Slate and Nico Slate. If you would like to know more about the Social Change Semester, please contact Nico Slate or read blog posts written by students on the semester.

In Their Own Words

Making Lunch

The students on the first Social Change Semester created a blog that explores their experiences in their own words. You can read their stories and learn directly from them.

What will your stories be?

New Friends, New Opportunities

Suraj and Akash

Every social change semester, we raise money to send at least two students to college.

Akash and Suraj would not have been able to continue their studies without this help. Suraj is focusing on improving his English. Akash wants to study engineering. His dream: to come to Carnegie Mellon for graduate school.