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Release: Immediate

Seminar presents ethical issues of development in India

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two scholars who recently visited Central-Western India to study a controversial dam project will present their findings and perspectives Friday, March 7 from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. in Room W401 of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building.

"Development by Displacement: The Narmada Dam Controversy" will be presented by Judy Polumbaum, associate professor of journalism and mass communication, and Jael Silliman, assistant professor of women's studies.

The Narmada River dam controversy concerns a dam being built for the largest westward flowing river in India. The project was conceived in the late 1950s and construction began in 1987. A group of 12 faculty and students from Grinnell College and the UI visited the region to speak with anti-dam activists, villagers who would be displaced by the dam and government officials and dam experts.

According to Polumbaum, the dam will cause many problems, but the most apparent is the displacement of families. It's estimated that the Narmada dam will leave 66,000 families without homes.

"The story of this dam is the story of the need for changing development strategies and learning to take human factors into account," Polumbaum said.

The India trip was part of the Bridging Project in International Studies, a program designed to expand faculty knowledge and strengthen international studies. The project was initiated in 1991-92 and is funded by Grinnell, the UI and the Ford Foundation.

Each year, two study groups are funded by the project with faculty members, graduate students and undergraduate students in each group. The faculty and students represent diverse disciplines and opinions.

The ethics seminar is sponsored by the Center for Comparative and International Studies, the College of Business Administration and the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry. It is free and open to the public.