Janaki Natarajan, director of the M.A.T. in Teaching for Social Justice

Janaki Natarajan, director of the M.A.T. in Teaching for Social Justice program, has spent her life working and promoting education for social change. Born in Ban­galore, South India, she worked with the Sarvodaya move­ment in India and the liberation movements in Angola, South Africa and Mozambique. She is director of Bapa­grama Educational Center, a Bangalore school serving the Dalit poor in nearby villages and with a tradition of social service and community organizing since 1949.

“I think the finding of new ways of doing things, after all, has got to be creative and energizing and full of delight, because who wants to repeat that old stuff,” said Janaki, in a public talk on the history of social struggle at the graduate school last October. “The caste system—do I want to repeat it? No. The plantation? No. The conquista­dores? No. How do we do this work? It’s not about utopian models…it’s the messy task of every word and every action that we take.”

With an Ed.D. in sociology from Harvard, Janaki’s own work embraces more than four decades of teaching and research, including extensive work in China, India and Tanzania, where she taught at the University of Dar Es Salaam. She has also held faculty positions across the U.S. In Washington, D.C. she taught at the University of the District of Columbia, in the public schools, and in Lorton Prison. In addition to teaching at Marlboro, Janaki teaches cultural history, social change, public health and gender issues at the SIT Graduate Institute and Keene State College. She is the founder of Educational Praxis, a non-profit organization connecting people from distinct backgrounds to exchange local and global knowledge and skills.