Anjali Sastry, J-WEL’s new Faculty Director, looks to J-WEL’s future | MIT J-WEL

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Anjali Sastry, J-WEL’s new Faculty Director, looks to J-WEL’s future

As J-WEL welcomes Dr. Anjali Sastry as its new Faculty Director and Associate Dean for Open Learning and Dr. Vijay Kumar, J-WEL’s founding Executive Director and former Associate Dean for Open Learning, moves into a new role as senior advisor to MIT’s Vice President for Open Learning, Dr. Sastry looked to the future–and reflected on the experience, relationships, and knowledge that J-WEL builds on.
In 2017, J-WEL set out to revolutionize the effectiveness and reach of education for learners everywhere. Inspired by a team of experienced educational innovators drawn by Dr. Kumar from across MIT, along with the Institute’s first Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma, MIT President Rafael Reif, and the visionary support of MIT alumnus Mohammed Jameel, J-WEL developed a unique approach to bring MIT-led innovations, ideas, and research to collaborators everywhere who are seeking to improve teaching and learning.

“The work started by Dr. Kumar and the J-WEL team is more important than ever, as the world responds to the reverberations of the global pandemic,” says Sastry. “J-WEL looks to the promise of technological and scientific progress to increase the reach and quality of education while addressing the uneven landscape of opportunities for learners at all life stages by working directly with educators, academic and corporate leaders, and their stakeholders.”

Today, J-WEL builds on its deep collaboration with partners in India, Columbia, Japan, Belize, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Sierra Leone, Mexico, Brazil, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Uruguay, among others, to bring better learning to millions of people across the world. With universities in Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Latvia, Tanzania, Peru and more now joining the effort, national and regional scale innovations in education are underway. Projects targeting K-12 innovations bring J-WEL expertise to schools in Latin America, the US, and elsewhere, while exciting new workforce learning engagements include a recently-launched global collaboration to bring opportunities to adults through corporate and institutional partners worldwide.

As always, the J-WEL team scouts the MIT ecosystem for research, practices, and guidance to share with members and orchestrate new collaborations built on MIT research and experience. J-WEL also learns from our partners, bringing together ideas and efforts from across the globe. Going forward, a new thread of work will spur local innovations anchored in the communities that member organizations serve,” Sastry says. J-WEL will continue to invest in new ways to study, distill, and share the lessons learned from the educators who are the essence of J-WEL. In particular, J-WEL wants to invest in the translation and implementation of ideas that work in one educational setting to understand how best to transfer and scale them elsewhere.

We are glad to be on this journey with you.


Dr. Sastry's Brief Bio:

Dr. Anjali Sastry is Faculty Director of J-WEL and Associate Dean for Open Learning. She brings a history of leadership and thinking about the interface of academia and society, particularly where learners are involved. Her longstanding interest in education has led to teaching innovations for entrepreneurs, undergraduates, graduate students, and executives, close engagement with J-WEL since its founding, and enthusiastic support for MIT Open Learning. A three-time graduate of MIT, Dr. Sastry draws on her grounding in system dynamics, organizational theory, and action research to investigate organizational designs for delivering needed services and goods in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere, including via extensive field work. A Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Sastry shares her findings on new ways to reach the underserved through classes that range from accessible MITx offerings co-developed with Solve to MIT Sloan’s “Breakthrough Ventures” course on effective business models in frontier markets, which she has offered for over a decade.
Dr. Sastry’s publications span academic and conference papers and books and include Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner (HBS Press) a guide to orchestrating learning in the workplace. She serves on the Board of Directors of and educational non-profit ResearchILD. A former advisor in residence to Mumbai-based Tata Trusts, founding advisor to shift7, member of the global nonprofit Board at Management Sciences for Health and Boston’s The Learning Project, Lecturer in Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and Faculty Advisor to the MIT Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship and Development, she works with collaborators everywhere to find and support ideas that offer the promise of bringing the best of MIT to many.

Related: A celebration of Dr. Vijay Kumar’s leadership