Professor Mohan J Dutta, Head of CNM, was recently recognised as a Provost’s Chair Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in recognition of his outstanding and impactful scholarly accomplishments, which are internationally acknowledged.
Professor Dutta’s recognition as Provost’s Chair Professor recognizes his recent work with the culture-centered approach and with setting up the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE). In his scholarly work, Professor Dutta has published over 170 articles and book chapters, and seven books. He has won multiple research and teaching awards, including the Lewis Donohew Outstanding Health Communication Scholar Award and the University Faculty Scholar Award from Purdue University.
In 2012, Professor Dutta published his book “Voices of Resistance: Communicating Social Change” with Purdue University Press. Drawing upon social change processes rooted in imaginations of alternative forms of global and local organizing ranging from the Zapatista movement to the Occupy movement to the “Save Niyamgiri” movement, the book foregrounds the voices of communities at the margins of the globe. Through the presence of marginalized voices in dialogue, it foregrounds political, economic, social and cultural thought that challenge the market-driven principles of neoliberal globalization.
2013 also marked the release of Professor Dutta’s edited book “Reducing Health Disparities: Communication Interventions” co-edited with University Distinguished Professor Gary Kreps and published by Peter Lang. The book outlines a variety of communication interventions covering multiple levels of health disparities.
In 2013, Professor Dutta published over 10 journal articles, including the article “Voices of hunger: Addressing health disparities through the culture-centered approach” published in the Journal of Communication. The article outlines the culture-centered approach in addressing food insecurity, documenting the communication processes through which communities at the margins participate in partnerships with academics to develop locally meaningful solutions addressing hunger. Through in-depth interviews, community dialogues and PhotoVoice exhibits, opportunities are created for listening to the voices of the food insecure who are otherwise absent from the discursive spaces of policies and programmes.
In his leadership with the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Professor Dutta continues to experiment with his ethnographic fieldwork with the culture-centered approach to social change, seeking to contribute to the theory, methodology and practice of social change communication. The “Voices of Hunger” projects emerging from this research address a wide range of locally rooted problems through the participation of marginalized communities, who collaborate together to develop locally meaningful solutions. In the ongoing work with the indigenous tribes in the Jangalmahal region of West Bengal, Professor Dutta is working with local communities on co-creating irrigation systems to meet community needs. Yet another ongoing project growing out of this work focuses on building a community creative center as a space for celebrating local cultural performances, arts, sports, and physical activities. CARE currently houses 12 active projects and two completed projects.
Through over a decade of experience running field projects, Professor Dutta has distilled the key tenets of the CCA, and mapped out a methodological framework for carrying out grassroots –driven interventions of social change. Through collaborations with successful grassroots transformative projects, a number of projects have tested the key conceptual tenets of the CCA. The project collaboration with the team of Dr. Nina Wallerstein, the original proponent of the concept of community-based participatory research, demonstrates the impact of CCA across the globe. Prof. Dutta has advised 26 PhD dissertations that have empirically tested the theoretical framework of the CCA in various marginalized settings ranging from rural women in Nepal to Burmese refugees in the US. Currently, at NUS, Professor Dutta is advising four doctoral students and one MA student who are working on the CCA.
Prof Dutta hopes to continue the community-driven grassroots work of the culture-centered approach that envisions social change through structural transformation.