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Amrita University wins Times Higher Education Awards Asia for Environmental Leadership

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Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has won the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia Award for its Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Leadership. At the heart of this recognition is Amrita University’s groundbreaking initiative, Live-in-Labs, an internship program in rural India. The students live in impoverished villages across the country to collaborate with the community and find sustainable solutions for the challenges the people face in their daily lives.  


In its announcement, THE said, “Science and technology are rapidly advancing, but how can those improvements reach the world’s poorest and create a sustainable future for all? That was the question that spurred senior leaders at Amrita to launch Live-in-Labs—an initiative that takes students and staff outside their campus classrooms and laboratories and into rural communities in India.” 


Dr. Maneesha V Ramesh, Amrita’s Provost & Dean of Amrita School for Sustainable Futures said, “Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is extremely honoured to be selected for our contribution to Environmental Leadership by THE Awards Asia 2024. When our Chancellor, Sri Mata Amritanandmayi Devi (Amma), envisioned Live-in-Labs® over a decade ago, Amrita was one of the first universities in the world to provide an opportunity for students to experience village life and codesign sustainable solutions for solving the challenges in the community.  

“The program was devised to instill compassion in the youth and empower communities through their involvement. Thereby, providing an ecosystem to translate scientific advances to uplift the villagers at the bottom of the pyramid and create a sustainable future for all. Our impact is a testament to our work, and it is a proud moment to be awarded by THE. There is more to do and we shall remain steadfast in our mission to offer sustainable solutions.” 

Since its beginning in 2013, Live-in-Labs has reached more than 1 million beneficiaries across 25 states. With participation by over 30 international institutions and 50 departments at Amrita, students and faculty have clocked in a monumental 400,000+ hours in the field working towards sustainable development in rural communities. 

To name just three of Live-in-Labs successful projects, THE lauded the ricycle, a low-cost rice planting machine; a load-carrying aid for women; and compressed earth block technology for houses. They are concrete examples of how Amrita University is leading practical solutions to empower rural people, alongside alignment with the needs of our planet.   

Amrita was also the only Indian institution to receive an award this year. Judges said its “innovative efforts mobilise much of the brain power of the university in service of environmental sustainability while helping students to develop essential competencies to become sustainability stewards: empathy, humility, compassion”. 

Valuably, they continued, the program also highlighted “the power of collaboration among people from different walks of life in addressing shared challenges”. 

THE’s esteemed recognition celebrates innovation throughout Asia’s higher education institutions. Eighty finalists were in the running across 10 categories. Overall, there were 600 entries with 17 countries and territories from across the region. Times Higher Education is a global publication that provides a definitive list of the world’s best universities, trusted by governments, universities, and students alike. Though unrelated to the rankings system, THE’s awards offer a major international platform to recognise outstanding leadership and excellence. 

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