Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Dr. Sanjay Patro- Professor of Marketing and Dean (Academics), XLRI Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur, India Dr. Fr. Donald D’ Silva-Professor of Communication and Dean(A&F), XLRI Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur, India Pranjal Pachpore- Doctoral Scholar- Department of Marketing, XLRI Xavier School of Management ,Jamshedpur, India

Learning Through Lived Experiences-- Rural Immersion Program

The challenge is that most business graduates who join business programs belong to urban areas, they seldom get an opportunity to closely observe a life which is quite different from their own with its own set of opportunities and challenges. With this problem in mind a rural immersion program was developed in Indian business schools two decades ago. The paper delves into the genesis and evolution of this program over all these years. It also discusses the objectives of the rural immersion program and its transformational value for the students and society compared to global immersion programs. It also lists the components for designing such a program. Apart from this the paper also discusses the role of various stakeholders that have significantly improved the program. The paper discusses the reasons for bringing in other stakeholders and the extent of their involvement in the program. The methodology is based on grounded theory as limited research has taken place in understanding the pedagogy and outcomes of rural immersion programs. The method for data collection is in-depth qualitative interviews of faculty involved in running this program over a decade, students who have undergone this program and other stakeholders involved. A few of the outcomes of participating in rural immersion programs can be categorized as socio-cultural learnings, understanding the rural business and ecosystem, stringent resource allocations by rural communities, societal developmental projects, social change programs among others. The paper makes the case for the adoption of rural immersion program by business schools globally and ends with a few innovative exercises that are conducted in rural immersion programs for enriching learning through lived experiences. Keywords: Rural immersion, experiential education, pedagogy, grounded theory, community.