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Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura reflects on his recent award and new Chair of Indian Studies

By Amanda Wilson, September 19 2022

On June 29, it was announced that the Department of History within the Faculty of Arts will receive a Chair of Indian Studies. The purpose of this program is to create history courses that will help students learn about 20th-century India and to better understand relations between India and Canada. 

The faculty is currently waiting for representatives in India to nominate a professor for the position of Chair and teach two undergraduate courses or one graduate course per semester. This addition is to better support cultural diversity within the Department of History.

“The Faculty of Arts is the largest and most diverse faculty at the university, and we are proud of the growth of knowledge, innovation and creativity that is made possible through that diversity,” said former dean of the Faculty of Arts, Richard Sigurdson in a speech.  

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura — Vice-Provost and Associate Vice President of Research for International — spoke about how this implementation will benefit both University of Calgary students and Canada-Indian relations.

“There is no university that has done what we have done and been accomplished with recognition. You can see some of those recognitions that we received actually are all being the top university for internationalisation not only in Canada, [but also in] North America,” said Ruwanpura.

When asked about how the Chair came to be implemented, Ruwanpura had referenced U of C’s Global Engagement Plan and its commitment to support diversity within the campus  community.

“Their number one goal was increasing diversity. It is not only about numbers, it is also about creating an environment where we bring foreign students, international students, not only from one or two countries but from abroad.We have about 150 countries represented in the University of Calgary,” said Ruwanpura. “Our students get that knowledge and expertise from other areas. They connect with each other, enhance their understanding about the cultural mosaic, and increase the diversity.”

Ruwanpura was also one of the recipients of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards. He had spoken about what this award means to him and other Canadian immigrants. 

“I’ve been recognized as one of the 25 immigrants of this country [and that] means a lot to me. That means that Canada has done successfully by bringing people like us, giving us the opportunity. It’s up to us to play. It’s like driving a vehicle,” said Ruwanpura.  

Ruwanpura reflected upon his journey being an international student and receiving this award.

“It’s a matter of understanding the challenges and also keeping your values and attributes where you come from — amalgamate your values and attributes here so that you can enjoy life by accomplishing those things.”

The implementation of a Chair of Indian Studies, and the recognition of Ruwanpura as a Top 25 Canadian Immigrant not only marks a celebration of diversity for U of C, but it is also groundwork for further plan of global inclusion. For more information on the new Chair, visit the U of C website.

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