Impact India 2021: Leadership

cfpl_gitarajanGita Rajan, Ph.D.
Project Director, Impact India 2021
Professor, Department of English
Senior Research Fellow, Center for Faith & Public Life
Faculty, Gender and Sexuality Studies: Global Social Justice
Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT 06824
203 254 4000 ext. 2508  

Dr. Gita Rajan has a strong research and publication record in Sustainable Development & Globalization, Gender & Feminist Ethics, South Asian Literatures and Visual Cultures.  Rajan was an Andrew Mellon Fellow at University of Pennsylvania, a Paul Mellon Fellow at the Center for British Art at Yale University, a Scholar in Residence at New York University, and the Elihu Root Peace Fund Endowed Visiting Professor of Women's Studies at Hamilton College.  Her recent book, New Cosmopolitanisms: South Asians in the US was published by Stanford University Press.  She served as an invited Juror for the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. for the nation-wide Faculty Research Fellowship Competition on South Asia.

Rajan is the Project Director of a US-India Jesuit University research consortium: Impact India 2021: Elevating the Value of Women and Girls in Society.  The findings of Phase I were disseminated in Washington, D.C. and broadcast in an interview with NPR in 2012. The project, designed to create attitudinal changes and empower women and girls is now entering Phase II. Research in the pilot phase enabled her to publish a scholarly article and a co-edited anthology, titled Transnational Feminism and Global Advocacy in South Asia (2012).

Rajan is on the Steering Committee of the Connecticut Council of Vital Voices Global Partnership, and was invited by the Melinda Gates Foundation and Vital Voices to conduct a workshop for women entrepreneurs on forging sustainable networks from eight African nations.  In addition, she conducted a workshop for low-income women in Chennai, India to create community based distribution channels for prepared foods.

The idea of imagining sustainable lives for women is not far from Rajan’s research and personal interests.  At Fairfield University, Rajan often teaches the Capstone Seminar for the Women’s Studies Program.  She mentored students who created the first, functioning University Non-governmental Organization, Sustainable Equity for Women that is run by Fairfield Alumnae. Still other students she has mentored students created two fellowships for rural mothers in Bangladesh, which are now managed by the Grameen Foundation in Washington, D.C.  Rajan’s philosophy in engaging in development and gender projects is to access and support connections between and amongst local-global constituencies.

pr_rryscavage11Father Richard Ryscavage S.J. is a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Jesuit religious order.  He is professor of sociology and international studies at Fairfield University where he is the founding Director of the University’s Center for Faith and Public Life which studies areas where religion and socio-political issues intersect. 

Father Ryscavage served as national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service USA and was national secretary for social and international work at the Jesuit national headquarters in Washington D.C.  He chaired the humanitarian section of InterAction, the largest coalition of American non-governmental organizations working internationally. From l994-l997 he was tutor and researcher at the Refugee Studies Centre of Oxford University in the UK.  Before Oxford he worked for the U.S. Catholic Bishops as Executive Director of the Migration and Refugee Services where he ran one of the world’s largest refugee resettlement agencies.  He was also President of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), a national network of attorneys providing legal assistance to immigrants.

At Fairfield, Fr. Ryscavage founded the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) which prepares undergraduates to respond more effectively to domestic and international humanitarian crises. He was the project director of a national study examining the issues of undocumented students in higher education, a policy and research project funded by the Ford Foundation.  He is currently designing a pilot project to demonstrate a more civil and less coarse way of public debate about immigration by framing the dialogue in the language of faith, funded by the Hagedorn Foundation.  This past year, Fr. Ryscavage and Dr. Gita Rajan, a professor of English, led a pilot research project that focused on the sex-ratio imbalance crisis in India.

Fr. Ryscavage holds a Masters degree in international administration from the School for International Training in Vermont and a Masters in international law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  He received an honorary doctorate from Assumption College and is considered a specialist in the areas of migration, refugees, non-governmental organizations, humanitarian assistance and public policy advocacy.  He regularly teaches in Fordham University’s Master’s diploma program in humanitarian assistance and in the Catholic University of America certificate program in Catholic social thought and Master’s program in Integral Economic Development Management.