MCC Religious Studies faculty studies urban sustainability abroad 

MESA, Arizona – Feb. 15, 2023 — Dr. Elizabeth Ursic, Mesa Community College professor of Religious Studies, was selected by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) to study urban sustainability in India as part of a CAORC Faculty Development Seminar.

Faculty Development Seminars are fully-funded overseas events allowing administrators and faculty at American community colleges and minority-serving institutions to gain international experience. The hope is that the experience will help to improve the content of the courses they teach when they return home. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funds CAORC Faculty Development Seminars, which are run alongside participating Overseas Research Centers.

“I have already incorporated what I learned into my MCC classes, particularly Introduction to World Religions and Women and World Religions classes,” Dr. Ursic explained. “Getting to see India first-hand has expanded my understanding of the complexities of modern India, which I have included in my lectures and student assignments.”

The seminar Ursic participated in was administered by the American Institute of Indian Studies. It included visits to the cities of Lucknow, Jaipur and Delhi, where she and 11 other scholars learned about the cultural, societal, environmental and economic challenges that the cities face as their populations expand. These challenges include threatened traditions and cultural sites, the struggle to maintain resources and demands for economic opportunities.

Ursic learned about sustainable development in India from university faculty, community leaders and non-governmental organizations over the course of the trip. They also benefited from a variety of visits and cultural excursions.

“There were many highlights of the trip that have helped me to connect what I learned in India with the lives of our MCC students,” Dr. Ursic said. “Taking excursions to learn about ancient step wells that enabled the Mughal empire to collect water during monsoons to sustain them through dry seasons, as well as touring recent water reclamation projects that mirrored our Salt River Project were particularly fascinating.”

The Philosophy & Religious Studies department at MCC offers courses in religious studies, as distinguished from religious education. Whereas religious education seeks to strengthen a person in his/her particular tradition, Religious Studies seeks a perspective from outside all traditions in pursuit of an understanding of the historical, cultural, political, and economic dimensions of various traditions. Learn more on the college's website,

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Media contact: Dawn Zimmer, 480-461-7892,

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized for university transfer, career and technical programs, civic engagement, service-learning and innovative approaches to education. On average MCC students provide 23,000 hours of community service annually. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 25,400 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations through a combination of modalities. MCC is transforming how it champions student success through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution with nearly 50% of its students being the first in their families to attend college. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges; its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes as well as out-of-state tribes. The diverse student body includes hundreds of international students from around the world. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to attain their goals. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit to learn more.

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Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2023