BCA’s Signature Courses focus student learning on cross-cultural awareness and trans-disciplinary study through traditional classroom learning and in-field experiences. Much of this learning incorporates meaningful and direct contact with local people whose lives are entwined with and affected by the issues we examine. Enrollment in a Signature Course is required for all students participating in a BCA program.

India: Culture and Society (3 credits)

This course provides students with a foundation to understand the complexities and unique features of Indian culture and social systems. A taste of Indian diversity is offered through monthly excursions that range from day trips to longer ones of 5 day duration.

Semester Orientation

A 10 day program introduces students to the host university campus, the city of Chennai and eases them into the Indian way of life. We explore the local areas near campus, venture into the city and visit agencies with internship opportunities. Local transportation is used to the maximum to familiarize students with navigating Indian travel.

Discussion sessions

Spread over the semester, the Resident Director will lead sessions on Indian culture and society. Sessions will be both lectures and group discussions on the social, political and economic foundations of India and the challenges faced in the face of unprecedented and fast paced growth.


As part of the course, we visit several historical locations. These trips provide a glimpse into the rich history of the nation and allow us to discuss the continued influence of the past on the present.

Topics Covered Include

  • Social organisation within the Indian community, caste and identity
  • Religions of India and iconography
  • Secularism, pluralism and the Indian Identity(ies)
  • Indian politics and social influences
  • Gender in Indian society
  • Affirmative action, minorities and the social ladder
  • The inter-weaving of tradition and modernity in Indian society
  • Development challenges of a growing nation
  • Economic transitions and global influences

Faculty: Anupama Pai, Resident Director, BCA Chennai

Conversational Tamil (No Credits)

English is widely used in India and communication is mostly not a problem, especially within the campus environment. Regular spoken Tamil classes will be conducted at the beginning of the semester to give students a sense of the local language and basic phrases that will help them in their interactions with the local community.