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Fact Sheet:
Area of Study: Government and Public Affairs, Urban and Regional Planning, Urban and Regional Studies Language of Instruction: English
Class Status: Graduate, Undergraduate Housing Options: Apartment
Recommended Program: YES
Program Description:

 Urban Development Studio in Bhopal, IndiatjBhopal, India
URSP 391, GVPA 591 or PPAD 791
July 31, 2018 - August 15, 2018
$550 +airfare + applicable VCU tuition

Program Director
Niraj Verma, Professor

Corey Blake Miles

Registration deadline: 15 April 2018

The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and the Global Education Office at Virginia Commonwealth University are pleased to offer growing interest in India related development issues under the auspices of the India Chair in the School.  The studio should give students hands-on experience of being in India for two weeks and learning the culture and institutional context of urban development in India.  Bhopal has been designed by the Indian government as a city they want to transform to a “smart city” with greater emphasis on evidence-based decision making.  

We will be working on projects in different areas of Bhopal. Students will be working together with students from School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) Bhopal and will get to know community members and see first-hand how life in various areas of Bhopal is organized. All students and faculty members in SPA Bhopal speak English. When communication with local residents and community members is involved, SPA students will serve as a resource for VCU students.

Students will work in groups with Indian students from SPA Bhopal.  The Indian students will serve as translators whenever needed. There will be two preparatory meetings to discuss the studio before departure.

Course and credit optionsd
GVPA 591 (Prof Verma)
PPAD 791 (for Doctoral students, Prof Verma)

The Education Abroad office will automatically enroll students in the course following their final acceptance into the program.

Course descriptions
URSP 391 (Prof Verma)
GVPA 591 (Prof Verma)
PPAD 791 (for Doctoral students, Prof Verma)

Open to upper division undergrad and graduate students.  PhD students should enroll in PPAD 791. Students with some background in urban development are encouraged to apply, though it is not essential.  Keep in mind that all majors in the Wilder School, social science and international studies majors within the College, as well as public health, education, and others are relevant to urban development.

Accommodations and mealss
Students will stay in shared accommodation in university guest houses.  Bhopal is a short flight from Delhi and is a historically important city that is also the capital of the province of Madhya Pradesh in India.  Students might want to combine the studio with a day in Delhi or Agra.  Both are places of great tourism value with the Taj Mahal in Agra and several historic and contemporary attractions in Delhi.  More information will be provided in the two sessions planned before the actual visit.  All local transport will be covered, including studio related excursions.  However, other tourist visits will need to be arranged directly by the student.  US citizens will need a visa to travel to India and information on this will be shared. Early application is encouraged so as to reserve a place.  

Program director
Dr. Niraj Verma has taught several international studios in India, Germany, Italy, and Romania.  He is a native speaker of Hindi and was born in India and did his undergraduate studies there.  He served as Dean/Director of the Wilder School from 2010-2016 and handled budgets and all other responsibilities of that office.

A valid passport is required to leave the US. If a student does not already have a passport, they are advised to begin the application process as soon as they are accepted into the program. The processing time for new passport applicants can be as long as 8 weeks. For students who already have passports, they will need to verify that the passport’s validity dates extend 6 months past their return date. For more information about passports and the application/renewal process, please consult the State Department's website.
Payment of fees
In order to complete the application, students are required to submit a $250 registration fee and deposit. This $250 registration fee and deposit is refundable in two cases: if the program is cancelled, or if a student is rejected by the faculty member based on their qualifications to participate in the program. Reasons for rejection could include, but are not limited to, GPA, lack of a pre-requisite, unacceptable or inappropriate statement of interest, etc. and are at the discretion of the faculty program director. However, if a student pays the fee and is not given final acceptance to the program based on failing to complete application requirements, as determined by the Education Abroad office or faculty director, the $250 is non-refundable.
Students will receive two separate charges to their student accounts for this program: one charge will reflect the balance of the program fee (minus the $250 deposit and application fee) and the other charge is for VCU tuition costs (based on the number and type of credits being taken by the student). These bills will be charged through VCU Student Accounting and should appear by May.
Please note: While these charges may post to the student’s account simultaneously or separately, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure the account balance is paid before the billing due date.
Withdrawal procedures and financial commitment policy
All withdrawals must be made formally in writing and submitted to the Director of Education Abroad. Otherwise, the program fee will not be refunded. After committing to the program, students deciding to withdraw will be held accountable for a portion of or the entire program fee based on the following schedule:
  • Formal withdrawal submitted later than 30 days before the first day of the program abroad: 100% of the program fee will be charged
  • Formal withdrawal submitted within 30-60 days before the first day of the program abroad: 75% of the program fee will be charged
  • Formal withdrawal submitted within 60-90 days before the first day of the program abroad: 50% of the program fee will be charged
In the event an unexpected emergency occurs within 30 days before the first day of the program abroad, students must provide a physician’s certification that his/her condition prohibits participation. In this case, refunds will be limited to only those funds VCU is able to recover or that have not already been spent on behalf of the student.
See above for refund policy on $250 registration fee and deposit.
Travel health
Students should schedule an appointment with their physician or at a travel clinic (such as VCU Student Health) at least 4 to 8 weeks before the program to inquire about recommended and/or required vaccines/immunizations. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all routine and travel immunizations are up-to-date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on recommended and required immunizations for travelers. To view the health risks and requirements for the country to which you will be traveling, please visit the CDC's website.
Health Alert:  Zika Virus
The CDC has issued a travel alert for countries where the Zika virus is prevalent.  Check the CDC’s travel notices regularly as new countries are being added to this list.  Check VCU Student Health to stay updated as well.

VCU Student Health offers in-depth pre-travel consultation with a health care provider as well as most of the vaccines recommended for safe travel. Prescriptions for recommended medicines are also available. Please visit their website for full details.


Every effort is made to provide updated and accurate information at the time of publication. The sponsors reserve the right to make necessary changes to the programs and costs. The university reserves the right to revise or alter all fees, regulations pertaining to student fees, and fee collection procedures at any time.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year Registration Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2019 05/15/2019 05/15/2019 TBA TBA

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