Boosting science, math, technology, and ethics in Tibetan communities
Project aims to create science learning centers in India, while also fostering solar power and clean water.
David L. Chandler, MIT News Office
February 12, 2014
To many Westerners, science, monks, and technology may not be an obvious trio. But to Tenzin Prayadarshi and others at MIT’s Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values, they are a means of improving the lives of Tibetans dispersed throughout India and elsewhere.
The program, called the Science, Monks and Technology Leadership Program, was launched a year ago to help members of the Tibetan diaspora find solutions to the challenges they face in some of India’s poorest regions. For example, the program has produced the first of a planned series of science centers — a simple concrete building outfitted with computers and online access — in an area where most people lack electricity or piped water. There, students and monks will be able to learn from materials such as lectures on MIT’s OpenCourseWare (with added Tibetan subtitles). The center is expected to reach full operation by this summer.
“We’ll be using that as a hub for testing out some of the models,” Prayadarshi says — efforts such as solar- or bicycle-powered electricity, and creating awareness about sustainable farming and improved water systems.
Besides encouraging the development of locally useful technologies, the program aims to improve the teaching of math and science. “Science teachers in rural India have a very basic education, and no way to continue that education,” Prayadarshi says. And often in India, he says, “Once they become teachers, they’re shy of going back to education. We’re trying to break that paradigm, and the idea has already gained traction.” Read more.