Susanne Goetz Wins 2018 Chancellor's Grant for Innovative Study Abroad Programs

Textile Arts in India – Winter 2019 Associate Professor Susanne Goetz Textile/Surface Design Department, Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC 
Application for Chancellor’s Grant for Innovative Study Abroad Programs (ISAP Grant) Program description, goals and impact.

“Textile Arts in India” is a short-term study abroad course in Rajasthan, India, that allows FIT students to explore textile artisan culture through investigative learning, cultural immersion and applied learning opportunities. Through tours, lectures and presentations, participants investigate the complex interaction between traditional crafts and the reality of design, production and retail in the 21st century. Visits to workshops, museums, retail venues, and academic institutions offer historical information and contemporary perspectives about India and Indian crafts. Students have the opportunity to work for several days alongside local craftspeople to gain hands-on practice with traditional craft processes.

Key program components of the program will include:
• A new academic COIL partnership with Pearl Academy, Delhi 

• Visits to four Rajasthani cities and villages that are centers of traditional craft (Udaipur and Delwara, Pushkar, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bishnoi villages)
•Design, textile craft as and cultural experiences (Hands-on workshops, cultural tours and a class in regional cooking)

Learning Outcomes Upon completion of the course, students will have the ability to:
• research concepts that can be developed into designs
• apply traditional Indian textile crafts to their own work
• produce a body of self-generated, informed work, that substantially demonstrates a critical and contextual understanding of artisanal textile practices in India
• demonstrate awareness of global and sustainability-related issues facing the textile/surface-design industry
• develop design solutions based on knowledge of Indian methods of textile design and production 
The program is FIT’s inaugural study-abroad program in India, and it has run successfully as a Winter program in 2017 and 2018. FIT has, in the past, offered programs predominately in Europe and China, but over recent years, has focused on offering more learning opportunities in less-traditional destinations. 
Rajasthan is India's largest state by area. It is located on the north-western side of India and shares a border with the Pakistan. The Thar Desert encompasses about 70 percent of the total landmass of Rajasthan, and it is sparsely populated. The officially recognized tribes constitute 12.6 percent of the total population of the State, of which nearly 95 percent reside in rural areas. The economy of the tribes continues to be predominately agricultural. These communities have higher incidence of illiteracy, malnourishment and poverty, and they face social and geographic isolation. The tribal handicrafts require specialized skills that are passed on from one generation to another, with the revenue generated from handicraft often being a substantial share of total household income. Working closely with artisans allows students to learn about the artisan industry and its unique challenges with regard to environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. Practicing craft alongside artisans provides a hands-on learning experience that deepens their understanding of how complex and time-consuming some of the techniques are, as well as an appreciation of the distinctive appearance of handmade products. Once active in industry, our alumni(ae) will be able to make informed decisions that can support the sustainable development of traditional handicraft. 
As an enhancement to the class, a new COIL [Collaborative Online International Learning] collaboration with Pearl Academy in Delhi is planned for Fall 2018/Winter 2019. During meetings in January 2018, the groundwork was laid to create an online collaboration between Susanne Goetz, Fashion Institute of Technology 2018 3 NYC- and Delhi-based student groups and a follow-up face-to-face meeting in India. 
In the virtual COIL collaboration in Fall 2018, FIT and Pearl Academy students will work in small groups to research, analyze and discuss current trends in design, fashion, and contemporary art in NYC and Delhi to determine cultural differences and local influences on what constitutes contemporary textile and fashion design. This collaborative project includes the discussion of traditional Indian textile crafts in a contemporary context. On site in Delhi in Winter 2019, the two student groups will meet face-to-face to participate in a guided tour of the Lodhi art district by the non-profit St+Art India Foundation. St+Art India’s work is rooted in social activism and urban design, involving a unique engagement between street artists and the government. After the tour, students will participate in a workshop or academic lecture. A group dinner will give students a further chance to forge connections. Academic integrity and program evaluation. Student learning will be assessed through a pre-departure evaluation reflecting on their expectations and a post-departure artist statement about their project and the program experience. Students will create a pattern sketchbook and a design collection, inspired by their experience in India. During the program, students will take part in several hands-on workshops with artisans and create individual textile products.