Bay of Bengal Lecture Success

By Mike Hantho, Staff Writer

On Nov. 17, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Social Work hosted the Global Studies Lecture Series for the Bay of Bengal, presented by Bipasha Biswas, Ph.D.

Biswas, an associate professor at EWU’s School of Social Work, said in an interview last week she hoped to bring awareness to the problems in the Bay of Bengal in India.

“As a social worker, I want bring in the kind of work I do with the community there,” said Biswas. “It’s [concerned with] community health and public health, a lot of empowerment and also understanding the grounds of gender and gender disparity, along with help and access to healthcare.”

Biswas talked about how the area’s traditional caste system is one of the major obstacles to providing aid to the people in the Bay of Bengal.

“So most of the people I work with in the villages are indigenous and were at the bottom of the caste hierarchy [in Bengal],” Biswas said during the lecture. “Doctors would rather work in big cities, and that goes back to the fact that 30% of the [higher caste] population is supported by [the lower] 70%.”

Biswas stated there is a lack of awareness regarding the problems the Bay of Bengal faces that have led to such a disproportionate system, with this lecture addressing the issue and intending to give audience the knowledge needed to be proactive in facing this problem.

Vickie Shields, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Social Work, has coordinated the Global Studies Lecture Series at EWU since 2006,  presenting two to three lectures per school year.

“I’ve been [at EWU] as a dean for one year and quickly realized there were faculty doing amazing work in global and international education, and most of it was in their research,” Shields said. “I wanted to give them a platform to give lectures to a broader audience, and also wanted an opportunity to offer free lunch to students and community members … [to] learn about other parts of the world.”

Megan Barney, business major at EWU, said the lecture was a requirement for her Health Communication class, but was relevant and useful.

“[This lecture] was eye opening. I didn’t really know what to expect coming into it… [It was] life changing to see how different it is [in Bengal] from here,” Barney said. “It was a good presentation. It was interesting, so I’d probably go to another lecture like this one.”

Shields said the faculty members loved presenting their particular areas of expertise at these lectures, with each lecture being on a different topic. Shields also said it is important for students to have some education in a global context.

“We can’t always be in a position to study abroad … but there is a lot we can do on campus to educate about globalization and about other people in the world,” Shields said. “These lectures make people more educated, more tolerant and much more able to critically question their own ideas, values and identities when we’re exposed to other’s ideas, values and identities from around the world.”