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Off-Campus Study

ACM India: Development Studies and Hindi Language

India is home to over one billion people, making it the world’s second-most populated country and largest democracy.  High-tech urban centers, a testament to the economic reforms of the early 1990s that opened India to the outside world, coexist with rural villages where farmers engage in subsistence agriculture, representing vast differences in culture, education, and opportunity.  While it has become one of the fastest-growing global economies, India still faces major challenges.  Poverty remains a critical issue, fueled by lack of access to primary education. Public health is a growing concern, be it the availability of clean drinking water, pollution, or malnutrition that affects half of the country’s children.  Rapid industrialization and limited infrastructure have taken their toll on the environment, with approximately two-thirds of India’s land degraded in some way.  Economic growth has also brought both the opportunity for and challenges of expanding rights, especially for women and for traditionally underprivileged groups.  How India continues to respond to these development-related issues will help determine their place not just in Asia, but in the world. 

The spring ACM India program, located in Pune and Jaipur, is designed to provide students with insight into Indian culture and society through a wide-ranging exploration of issues related to development.  

Program Type

Associated Colleges of the Midwest


Pune and Jaipur, India

Program Dates

Spring 2019: Early January to Late April

All dates are tentative and may change.  ACM will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus) Junior status or higher is strongly preferred.
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam period
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75 


Study the dynamics of a rapidly-growing global economy in India, a nation that’s opened itself to the outside world while remaining deeply committed to its ancient traditions. As you see high-tech urban centers coexisting with rural villages, you’ll notice the many contrasts in access to resources, education, and opportunity that exist in India.

India’s population of 1.2 billion people represents a multitude of religions, ethnicities, political states, languages, and art forms. India faces a variety of challenges, including a high poverty rate, wide economic disparities, and a declining natural environment that’s been affected by rapid industrialization. As India responds to these development-related issues, how can it create new opportunities for its people while determining its role on the world stage?



You will live in the fast-paced, prosperous city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra. Historically, the city served as a site for Hindu resistance to British rule.

Now, Pune is an important center for the automobile and software industries, and also remains a cultural hub for the arts, entertainment, food, and recreation. You’ll soon see why leaders in the fields of art, music, dance, yoga, theatre, film, religion, politics, environmental science and social reform like to call this eclectic city their home. 

Pune, or “The Oxford of the East,” hosts a variety of universities and colleges and is a thriving center for student life. Your own classes will be based at the ACM office, located in a popular area for students and near a multitude of shops and restaurants.

The ACM office gives you access to classrooms, a student lounge, and wireless internet. You can also explore your resources beyond the program office, including museums, educational institutions, government offices, political organizations, business and labor groups, and cultural and social welfare agencies.

ACM’s offices are in the same building as the Alliance Francaise de Pune.


Students on the semester program who elect to study intensive Hindi for the final four weeks of the program will pack up their bags before the spring break to spend a month living in Jaipur, a city located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Jaipur is one of the first planned cities in modern Asia, fondly known as the “Pink City” for the unique hue of its buildings.

The creatively-inclined can explore Jaipur’s numerous art, pottery, and jewelry shops. History buffs will admire Jaipur’s City Palace, Amer Fort, and other rich historical structures that give testament to the people who have lived there throughout the centuries.


The program includes four courses, each worth 1 Lake Forest credit:

  • Contemporary India
  • Hindi Language
  • Development Economics
  • Development Studies Practicum

More information on course offerings can be found here.  

In India, students will earn letter grades (A/B/C/D/F) for courses.


Academic Environment and Teaching Style

As this program was designed in conjunction with a US liberal arts college consortium, the professors understand the unique higher education system and culture of US students. Some professors, especially for the language course, will be native to India.  Other ACM courses may be taught by a visiting faculty member from one of the ACM member institutions.


Course Approvals

(Coming soon)

Experiential Opportunities

As part of the program, all students will be required to volunteer with a local non-governmental organization (NGO) during their final month in Jaipur. This part of the program is complemented by an intensive development studies seminar.

Student Life

In the past, students have visited the Ajanta and Ellora caves in the state of Maharashtra, some of the most famous rock-cut caves in the world. Both structures date back thousands of years and stand as testaments to religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. See for yourself how these historic structures have influenced Indian art and culture over time.

India offers a variety of natural wonders to explore. Students enjoy taking in the sights and textures of vibrant evergreen forests at Mahabaleshwar, a town situated high in the Western Ghats mountains near Pune. Another popular excursion is to the Sinhagad Fort, which served as the site for several well-known Indian battles, most notably the Battle of Sinhagad in the 17th century.

The program also organizes a week-long field study in northeast Maharashtra, a site of major development and research activities for tribal people, as well as the location of a village where Gandhi practiced his ideas.

Extracurricular activities & cultural events

Having access to so many universities and colleges in Pune gives you many ways to fill your free time by getting involved in the community or developing a personal hobby.

The ACM staff in Pune will help connect you to extracurricular activities and private lessons in areas such as yoga, classical Indian music, instrumental music, Bollywood dance, batik and weaving, and Hindi language. Many students combine their extracurricular activities with their formal independent research projects.community or developing a personal hobby.

Along with extracurricular activities, students attend music and dance recitals, religious festivals, and a variety of other cultural events, often with members of their host families. You may have the chance to participate in one of the several Hindu pilgrimages that travel through Pandharpur each year, and festivals at a Hindu temple in Jejuri.


Personal Travel

Whether you walk, take a rickshaw, or hop on a bus, you can access a variety of destinations in India. Pune is just a three-hour train ride from the beaches, colonial architecture, and Bollywood center of Mumbai, India’s largest city and chief commercial hub. Many students also enjoy taking a weekend bicycle trip along the coastline of Goa, a former Portuguese colony on the Arabian Sea and a popular beach destination. 

Housing and Meals

During the first few days of the program, students live together in a hotel. After that, they will live with two host families—one in Pune and one in Jaipur—for the remainder of the program. All meals except for weekday lunches are included.

Financial Information

For all programs, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee.  The program fee for the ACM India (spring) program includes orientation, housing, some field trips, and insurance.  All meals except lunch are included.

Here is an estimated budget for your Spring 2019 program:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee 


Program Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


Program Deposit (non-refundable)




Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, books, supplies, local transportation, personal expenses, additional travel, etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018.

There will be an additional $149 liability insurance fee for students choosing one of the Masters & Workshops artisan classes or participating in an internship.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate.

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  Students pursuing internships/volunteer projects are highly competitive for Gilman awards, among others! Another great option is the Boren award, which can be up to $10,000 per semester.

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php