Professor Datta lives her life according to the words of
Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Raised in Kolkata,
India, Dr. Datta is a dedicated teacher both in and out of the classroom. The
impact she has made over her more than 20 years of teaching at Monmouth
University is indelible and exponentially powerful. Her students are globally
open-minded thinkers who embrace religious and cultural pluralism and are not
afraid to tackle new challenges after they graduate. She was chair of the
political science and sociology department from 2000 to 2010.
Among many other experiential education initiatives she has
spearheaded, the 2003 Distinguished Teacher and founding director of the
Institute for Global Understanding (2001–11) has been taking a group of
Monmouth students on an international service learning trip to Kolkata, India during
winter break since 2010. The trip is part of her course, International Service
Seminar (PS 371), which provides students with experiential education credits
and a model for other service travel projects throughout the world.
“I see MU students who befriend orphans and abandoned
children spontaneously, and embrace them with love and care,” said Datta. Also
accompanying her on the 2014 trip to India were History and Anthropology
Professor Richard Veit and Emeritus Professor Shelia Baldwin.
Closer to home, she regularly helps with the University’s
Big Event, provides mentoring to Asbury Park students, and acts as the main
representative of Monmouth University’s Institute for Global Understanding to
the United Nations. Dr. Datta has created and secured external funding for
Project BAM, a mentoring program for Asbury Park High school students, run in partnership
with the high school; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth and Middlesex
Counties; and Monmouth University. She spearheaded a partnership with the
United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), which supports an annual UNAI Lecture
Series hosted by Monmouth University, off-site internships, and a UNAI
scholarship for students. In addition, through this partnership, students and
faculty of Monmouth University have participated at conferences at the UN
Headquarters in New York City.
“A university that offers opportunities for rigorous
classroom learning and community engagement in local and global settings is at
the cutting edge of creating world citizens,” she said. “It is a matter of deep
and personal pride for me that I am part of this beautiful and caring campus
Her dedication to education and helping others has not gone
unnoticed. In 2004 she was given the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the
National Council for Community & Justice. Dr. Datta also received the
Global Visionary Award from Monmouth University in 2012 and was named
Outstanding Leader in Experiential Education in Higher Education by the
National Society for Experiential Education in 2011. She was also an appointed
member of the New Jersey Governor's Transition Team on Higher Education Policy
Group, 2005–06, and has acted as interim director of the Center for Excellence
in Teaching and Learning since July 2014.
In recalling an outcome of the international service
learning trip, Dr. Datta said that as an educator, it is heartening to see how
such transformative experiences impact students as they shape their personal
development and careers. After returning from India, one of the students
secured an internship in the US Department of State through Monmouth’s
Washington Semester program. Her experience with India helped; she got placed,
and after her internship, obtained a permanent position as a foreign service officer
in the Office of India Affairs in the State Department.
In 2013 she co-founded Women and Girls Education
(WAGE)-International (wageintl.org), a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization
that seeks to educate and work with community organizations that help families
and support women and girls facing violence. As vice president of WAGE, she
also helped facilitate the creation of Students Advocating for Girls' Education
(SAGE) on campus.
Datta is the author of Beyond Realism: Human Security in India and Pakistan
in the 21st Century, (2008, 2010); Why Alliances Endure: The United
States-Pakistan Military Alliance, 1954-1971 (1994); and co-editor, with
Judith Kornberg, of Women in Developing Countries (2002).
When she is not
teaching, writing, or transforming students’ lives, Dr. Datta loves yoga,
reading, gardening, long walks, and watching college basketball, especially
those games that involve Monmouth Hawks and her alma mater, University of
Connecticut, in particular.