South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Workshops and Seminars

SAI hosts and co-hosts a number of teacher training workshops on the UT campus during the year. We design our professional development opportunities to address the TEKS and TAKS objectives for social studies.  At our training events, teachers gain knowledge from Institute guests and faculty experts, teaching materials and strategies to use them in the classroom, and CPE hours.  Below is a listing of our current and recent professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers.

Upcoming Event/Workshop: 

Teaching about refugees: forced displacement, political asylum, deportation and repatriation

Saturday, April 30, 2016, 10 - 4:15pm
Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118)
University of Texas at Austin Campus

Drawing from current and historical examples from around the world, this day-long workshop will address why and how people become displaced, the problems that refugees and migrants face, how they rebuild their lives in new countries, and what happens when they are sent back to their countries of origin. Expert speakers will cover topics of forced migration and, how mass movements of people relate to issues of human rights and social justice in a global society. Presenters will also introduce some of the historical and political processes that led to the displacement of various refugee communities to gain an understanding of multiple perspectives on, and reasons for, the displacement of people.

The workshop is designed for social studies educators at the middle and high school level, and addresses Texas and national teaching standards that examine themes of migration and human rights; how culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions; and concepts related to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Teachers will leave with materials and strategies for introducing these concepts to their students. Sample lesson plans will strengthen student decision-making and critical-thinking skills needed to organize and use information acquired from a variety of sources (historical texts, photographs and other documents), and will guide students in using maps and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information.

Space is limited to 30 participants who will be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Attendance is free of charge to all teachers, but pre-registration is required.

Attendees will receive:
• Professional Development Hours (CPE)
• Teacher materials (books, articles and lesson plans)
• Continental Breakfast, Lunch and other refreshments

To register and for more information on the workshop please send an email: Please include information on where and what you teach (school/district, and grades/subjects).

Past Workshops:

Webinar: Nectar in a Sieve

Great Works, Great Ideas is a five-part webinar series exploring great ideas and great works of literature and architecture and the impact they've had on socieities and cultures throughout the ages. 

This webinar discussed the themes of rural poverty, colonialism, religious traditions and role of women in India present through the novel Nectar in a Sieve

Nectar in a Sieve is a 1954 novel by Kamala Markandaya that depicts the story of a simple peasant woman, Rukmani, who was married as a child bride to a tenant farmer and their struggles to care for land and loved ones during times of poverty and disaster. The novel is set in India during a period of intense urban development and the speaker will expand on the historical context for the book’s setting and it’s impact. 

Aniruddhan Vasudevan is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at University of Texas at Austin. Aniruddhan is also a performer, write, and activist from Chennai, India. His research focuses on gender and sexuality politics in India specifically LGBT rights activism in Chennai. 

To view a recording of the webinar, visit:

Webinar: South Asian Religions

The South Asia Institute at UT Austin hosted a four part webinar series based on South Asia Religions. This webinar series was geared toward teachers for social studies and language arts educators at the middle and high school level. 

It addressed Texas and national teaching standards that examine the relationships among religion, philosophy, and culture and the development of major world religions. Webinars covered South Asian religious traditions of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Sikhism. You can access the recordings for the webinar sessions by clicking on the links:

These presentations have been designed by religious studies specialists to provide educators with information and tools to South Asia’s major religious traditions. The presentations covered historical emergence as well as important ideas and practices that emerged out of them.  

Strategies that Work: Helping Students Become Proficient Speakers of Hindi and Urdu"

South Asia Institute, Hindi Urdu Flagship (UT Austin), and STARTALK co-sponsored a workshop on April 18-19, 2015 in Austin, TX designed specifically for teachers in Hindi and Urdu. The primary purpose of this workshop was to inform Hindi and Urdu teachers about highly effective practices in curriculum, lesson planning, and instructional strategies. The workshop focused on research-driven principles with the majority of participant time spent on experiencing and then reflecting with peers how a variety of instructional strategies could lead to successful langauge leanring or be impeded by certain strategies. The workshop was intended to model for participants effective teaching methods and encourage both discussion and application of those methods to their own planning. 

Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence

The South Asia Institute at the University of Texas at Austin hosted a day-long workshop inspired by the Menil Collections’ exhibit on ‘Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Non-Violence’ on Saturday, Feb 28th, 2015. The exhibit explored the resonance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s (1867-1948) ethics of non-violence, or “satyagraha,” in the visual arts.

The workshop, held on the UT Austin campus, addressed Texas and national social studies standards that specifically address the influence of Gandhi on political movements, as well as the importance of human rights, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and movements to resist political oppression more broadly. Workshop presenters included the Menil exhibit’s curator and UT faculty members who specialize on Gandhi, human rights, and the influence of the arts on nonviolent movements.

Bus Trip to Houston to Menil Collection in Houston, TX

The South Asia Institute co-sponsored a bus trip to Houston on Jan 31st, 2015 to view the Menil Collections’ exhibit on ‘Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Non-Violence’.  The exhibit explored the resonance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s (1867-1948) ethics of non-violence, or “satyagraha,” in the visual arts. The tour was organized and led by a UT faculty members in Art History and curators of the exhibits in Houston. This was the first international project to explore the resonance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s (1867-1948) ethics of non-violence, or “satyagraha,” in the visual arts. The exhibition presented approximately 130 works spanning several centuries and includes paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, sculptures, rare books, and films by artists from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. 

HEB ISD and the Hindi Urdu Flagship Present - Hindi is Here!

The purpose of this workshop was to celebrate the Hindi language, and to publicize the many opportunities that now exist for learning and teaching it in Texas and beyond! Hindi is taking its rightful place alongside other languages of world significance in the 21st century, and is attracting more and more interest among learners seeking access to the vibrant culture of India. Sessions in this one-day workshop included topics ranging from Hindi literature and writing to Hindi in the business world, and student perspectives and pedagogy. Professors from UT Austin, NYU, UPenn, and University of Maryland represented at the workshop, which aims to give a broad picture of all the opportunities for students of Hindi from kindergarten to university!

Summer Institute 2014: War and Conflict

War and conflict are powerful, traumatic events in history. They can stem from multiple causes, devastate lives and economies, change the course of nations, and their effects can linger for generations after the last shots are fired. This year’s summer teacher’s institute “War and Conflict” took a closer look at war and conflict around the world, with the partnership of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to a usual slate of scholar-educators who will offer content presentations on the cause, course, and long term effect of war and conflict, participants got an exclusive look into the  exhibition “The World at War 1914-1918” and the resources it offers. They left with new insights into the topic, teaching resources, and primary source documents that can be used with students.

AIM: The Emergence of Hinduism and Buddhism in India (Spring 2014)

This day-long workshop provided teachers with tools and information on two of the worlds' major religious traditions -- Hinduism and Buddhism. Both religions have a long, shared history but continue to contribute to a dynamic interchange among Asian countries and between Asia and other parts of the world.  Presentations covered the historical emergence of both religions, as well as important ideas and practices that emerged out of them, including the concepts of karma, dharma, and samsara.  Particular emphasis was given to how these religious traditions grew in conversation and the important differences and changes that occurred between them over time. Presenters contextualized terms and ideas within traditions, while guiding participants through active learning exercises and primary source materials to use with their students.

The workshop was designed for socials studies and language arts educators at the middle and high school level.  It addressed Texas and national teaching standards that examine the relationships among religion, philosophy, and culture and the development of major world religions.

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Fall 2013):Bringing India into the Classroom: Strategies and Resources for K-6 Educators

With a specific focus on India, this workshop will provide teachers with tools and information to strengthen global awareness and multicultural education for students at the lower grade levels (K-6). Presentations will help teachers learn more about India, while also providing them with classroom-ready lessons and materials that are tailored to save time in searching for educational content on India appropriate for younger students. Throughout the day, we will cover a range of topics on India, including highlights of geography, culture and history; celebrations, holidays and festivals; and children's folktales and literature. Presenters will guide participants through hands-on activities and carefully vetted materials (books, artifacts, films, lesson plans) to use with younger students. The workshop will address Texas and national social studies standards that cover the importance of culture, cultural heritage, and family and national traditions. In doing so, the workshop will provide educators with ways to guide young students toward deeper understandings of similarities and differences among people. Multi-culturally literate students value diversity, understand the perspectives of other cultural groups, and are sensitive to issues of bias, prejudice, and stereotyping. Engaging global content will enable young learners to generalize from the study India and apply that learning in all aspects of their lives. Further, multicultural programming will validate the experience of all students in culturally diverse classrooms.

Hemispheres Summer Teachers’ Institute 2013: Untangling World History

Over the past 18 months, Hemispheres has been hearing from our core audience of educator professionals with questions and concerns about the new State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam in World History. We've expanded our training, introduced new resources, and offered practical tips for teaching. This year's Summer Teachers' Institute focused extensively on the World History TEKS, with the intent of helping teachers gain the background knowledge they need to prepare your students for the rigors of the STAAR exam.
The core of the workshop consisted of content presentations from scholars at the University of Texas on a myriad of state- and national standards-accessible topics in World History. Discussion sessions focused on trends in history, covering key concepts, and "bundling" content and skills standards to help educators cover topics efficiently in the classroom. Daily wrap-up exercises involved working with primary source documents concerning the content presented that day to turn them into Document-Based Question (DBQ) activities to use with students.  Teachers left with content, resources, primary documents, and a new outlook and enthusiasm for teaching world history.

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Spring 2013): Bhutanese-Nepali Refugees

The greater Austin area is experiencing an influx of refugees who have been through decades of struggle, transit and discrimination in the Himalayan region.  Many of those arriving have been living in refugee camps for more than a decade, including large numbers of youth.  There are currently more than 500 Bhutanese-Nepali refugees in Austin, many of whom have spent their entire lives in the camps, knowing little of the history of migration, but with important stories to tell.  This workshop helped inform Austin-area educators about the plight of these refugees, and provided them with information about this community and the history and culture of the Himalayan region.  
This workshop was designed for all K-12 educators interested in producing young global citizens in central Texas, who have cultural knowledge and awareness of the Himalayan region of South Asia and diaspora/refugee populations in their own communities. This training event was directed toward ESL educators, and other teachers, who have Bhutanese-Nepali refugee students in their classrooms and wish to be more successful educating them.  But the workshop also included social studies teachers, and helped them to addresses Texas and national social studies standards cover that the meaning of the meaning of citizenship and the ways in which cultures change and maintain continuity due to the impact of general processes such as migration, political conflict and the diffusion of ideas.

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Spring 2013): Tibet and Buddhism

This workshop was designed for K-12 educators, in conjunction with the exclusive presentation of Tibetan Buddhist art at The Blanton Museum of Art. The exhibit explored the rich art and religion of this fascinating region through five mandalas and three thangkas dating from the 15th to 20th centuries. Originally used to explain Buddhist teachings to early nomadic Tibetans, thangkas are meticulously detailed hanging scroll paintings on silk that also serve as meditation aids in Buddhist ritual practice. Mandalas are elaborate, intricate circular diagrams reflecting a sacred, idealized universe.

Hemispheres Summer Teachers' Institute 2012: The City

Cities reflect their surroundings: they are centers of population, government, economics, religion, and, ultimately, culture. Similar in basic composition but divergent in their personalities, cities mirror the characteristics and chronicles of the people who inhabit them. The highs and the lows of history are captured in our cities. They wax and wane. They are the nexus of change and development. They allow us to explore the many intersecting aspects of societies, from urban planning and architecture to art, migration, and revolution.
This year's Hemispheres four-day workshop was geared toward world cultures, world geography, and world history educators in which we explored the meaning and place of the city—and all that it encompasses—in human history. We provided content lectures, teaching materials, and classroom strategy sessions to prepare you to present the city as a lens through which your students can better understand the world.

Hemispheres Summer Teachers’ Institute 2011: Cold War Cultures

The Cold War was one of the most influential events in American and world history. In addition to shaping generations who came of age between 1945 and 1990, its legacy continues to affect us today.

Hemispheres and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum teamed up to offer an unprecedented global look at the Cold War and its lasting economic, political and social impact not only on the two major players in the conflict— the U.S. and former Soviet Union—but on the rest of the world as well.  In addition to a lineup of engaging speakers, primary documents from the library archives were used to enhance our program.

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Spring 2011): Another Kashmir: Beyond the "Security" Paradigm

“My memory keeps getting in the way of your history….”  – Agha Shahid Ali from The Country without a Post Office

This workshop was designed for high school social studies and English teachers who are interested in incorporating the region of South Asia into their curriculum. Workshop speakers attempted to intervene in recent conversations regarding Kashmir that have spoken of Kashmir’s relevance to the nation-states of India and Pakistan, more then they have the dynamics of religious identities or the cultural artifacts and aesthetic concerns of the Kashmir people. Moving away from depictions of a homogenous Kashmiri Muslim identity and related issues of territorial claims and security concerns, the workshop placed Kashmir within a larger context to provide alternate understandings of Kashmir and its peoples.

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Fall 2010): Understanding Photographs:  India and the History of Photography

Photography was first introduced to India in 1840, only a year after the announcements of the daguerreotype and calotype processes in France and England.  The study of 'photography in India' should take place within the wider context of the growth of the history of photography.  For instance, the tension between a focus on the subject versus the aesthetics of a photograph can reveal interesting dimensions of social history.  The workshop built upon the opportunity provided by a current exhibition (at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin) that traces the history of photography, combining a tour of the exhibition with presentations by scholars whose expertise includes India and photographs.  The workshop intended to provide a significant foundation upon which participants will be able to use photographs as primary documents that can enhance an understanding of the production of culture.

Hemispheres' Summer Teachers' Institute 2010: Unraveling Race and Ethnicity

What is race?  What is ethnicity?  What's the difference between them?  In addition to shaping the world in which we live, they continue to affect our lives and our perceptions of other people and places. And although they come up in classroom discussion frequently, they are sensitive topics that make even the most confident educator tread lightly.
This workshop from Hemispheres looked at race and ethnicity in a global context, from the historical to the contemporary. We began by exploring theoretical issues that addressed what these terms mean and how that meaning can change in different contexts.  We then looked at the ways societies around the world both define and deal with them, both positively and negatively.  Finally, we facilitated audience discussion and development of classroom strategies that will helped teachers unravel the complexities of discussing race and ethnicity effectively in their classroom.

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Spring 2010): The Empire Writes Back: Teaching Postcolonial Literature from South Asia

This workshop was designed for high school social studies and English teachers who are interested in incorporating literature from South Asia into their curriculum.  Faculty speakers explored an understanding of post colonial writing and theory in a literary, historical and social context.  The event starts from the idea of post coloniality as a global condition affecting not only literature but also the categories we use to think about human experience: relations between colonizers and colonized; between culture and power; ideas about identity, authenticity and hybridity; notions of roots, motherland, nationality; and conditions of migration and cosmopolitanism. 

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Fall 2009):Global Flows and Local Impacts: Stories from South Asia

This workshop, designed for middle and high school teachers, explored the global nature of contemporary social change in South Asia. It took globalization as major force that reshapes social life in the region, while recognizing that social outcomes are shaped through interaction with other processes as well. The workshop brought together UT faculty expertise and perspectives from geography, cultural studies, anthropology, political science, and economics to explore the meanings of globalization and its local impacts within South Asia today. Through presentations and discussion, we examined the relationship between globalization; inequality and poverty; the fate of cultural diversity; and issues of identity, the environment, and human rights.

Hemispheres' Summer Teachers' Institute 2009: Sense of Place: Intersecting geography, History, and Culture

How have our changing perceptions of our geographic surroundings led to changes in human society?  How do cities and urban spaces reflect the societies that build them?  How do those spaces in turn serve as vehicles for creativity, production, and social change?   How is the character of a place related to its political, economic, social, and cultural characteristics?

The fields we farm, the cities we build, the spaces we preserve, the borders we protect‹within each set of choices we make, we reveal our perceptions of and relationship with the land that surrounds us. By studying the connections between natural geographic features, human settlement, and cultural identity, we can begin to see landscape not as background scenery but as an expression of ourselves and of our historic development. Between the core disciplines of World Geography, World History, and World Cultures, few fields of study are beginning to emerge that explores ways that these fields (once studied in isolation) influence each other.  

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Spring 2009): Beauty in the Worlds of Islam

"Beauty in the Worlds of Islam" was a two-day K-12 and post-secondary workshop designed to explore the manner in which beauty is created, judged, negotiated, and relayed in Muslim societies from Asia to the Americas. The conference will emphasize the range of ways in which the diverse imaginative spirit of Muslim peoples is manifested in architecture, music, poetry, rhetoric, and calligraphy. It also hoped to draw attention to issues of gender, sexuality, disenfranchisement, and modernity as they shape the ideas of "beauty." The conference took on the twofold task of enriching American high school and college pedagogies pertaining to social studies and of enhancing interdisciplinary conversation among scholars of history, culture, language, literature, and religion.

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Fall 2008): Land and Landscape in South Asia

Landscape forms the conceptions we have of place or places, propped upon, yet largely independent of, what is meant by "land."  It is how we imagine a place, how we picture it to ourselves.  "Landscape" thus covers a mental idea - the image of land, something conceived of and therefore made operable or controllable as a concept.  "Nature knows nothing of what we call landscape."  Landscape is largely an aesthetic, mental concept with great implications for how we structure our lives.

This K-12 workshop addressed topics concerning land and landscape that are often studied separately.  Participants were exposed to ways of thinking about their importance in order to understand the significance of culture (including religion, literature and art) and geography in South Asia.

Hemispheres' Summer Teachers' Institute 2008: Recognizing Rights and Responsibilities in the 21st Century

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” - Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In what ways are governments and other powerful institutions responsible to act toward individuals and each other “in a spirit of brotherhood”? How do we define human rights, in the most expansive sense of the term? And how are rights and resources being claimed and fought for around the world? Hemispheres Summer Teachers’ Institute 2008 explored the international context for the rights-related challenges we face today. We looked at specific cases that illustrate how people conceive of and struggle for crucial rights in civil, political, cultural, and economic realms. 

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Fall 2007): East Asian Buddhists Pilgrims in South Asia and the Significance of Xuanzang

Pilgrimage is an important practice in many religions, and Buddhism is no exception.  Indeed, it is a significant factor in this religion’s phenomenal spread throughout the world.  Xuanzang, who lived in the seventh century, was only one of many such Chinese travelers to India in search of “sacred traces” of the Buddha, but his written account of an amazing journey helped to ensure his long-lived fame. His record provides many details of Buddhist practices as well as the appearance of Buddhist sites and images that would otherwise be unknown.  Xuanzang’s particular views of Buddhism and Buddhist India have had a profound impact on practioners and scholars alike, and today he is widely invoked as the paradigmatic figure of a Buddhist pilgrim.  This one-day symposium considered the significance of the sacred land of the Buddha through a focus on Xuanzang.

Hemispheres' Summer Teachers’ Institute 2007: Restoring Women to World Studies

In much of the social studies—especially courses focused on world history, geography, and culture—there is a growing awareness that the experience of women has been left out of the narrative. As a primary organizing category in our world, gender is a crucial concept in understanding other nations, cultures, and people. Women and gender often appear in the standards and as a theme in courses, but textbooks and other traditional resources do not adequately cover women around the world. This workshop addressed the need to increase global awareness in an increasingly interdependent world, while also responding to the need to consider women and gender in a global cross-cultural perspective.  Hemispheres 2007 Summer Teachers’ Institute explored the situation of women—historical and contemporary—in Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, East Europe and Eurasia, and South Asia.  We discussed the contributions of notable women to historical and artistic movements, talked about concepts of gender roles and gendered spaces, looked at issues that are driving women’s movements today, and examined the greater context in which all of these take place. 

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Spring 2007): The Significance of Ashoka, first Emperor of India

Emperor Ashoka (273-232 BCE) is held to be one of India’s greatest rulers. UT professors from the Department of Asian Studies guided participants in an examination of what we know about Ashoka and the time in which he lived, in order to gain a better understanding of his significance in ancient Indian history. The workshop introduced participants to the political and religious developments that appear to have occurred under Ashoka’s rule, the problems scholars face in assessing the exact features and impact of Ashoka’s reign, and the nature and significance of surviving texts and visual evidence used to define the importance of Ashoka.  

AIM: South Asia Workshop (Fall 2006): Photography as Evidence:  Interpreting South Asian Photographs

This workshop, specifically designed for high school teachers, provided strategies for teaching about and using photographs as primary source documents.  Members of UT faculty guided participants in an analysis of the use of photographs as historical evidence, focusing on a collection of 19th-century photographs and albums of India held at the Ransom Research Center on the UT campus. The workshop also introduced the uses of historical photographs to reveal insights into imperial-colonial relationships on the Indian subcontinent and the impact of historical photographs in continuing to shape understandings of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.