Awakin Calls » Piya Sorcar

Piya Sorcar: Social Visionary, Health Educator, and Innovator

Apr 11, 2015: Providing Health Education and Breaking Taboos for the World — For Free

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Piya Sorcar is ​the founder and CEO of TeachAIDS, a social venture spun out of Stanford University in 2009 that has been recognized as an innovation that could “change the world” by MIT Technology Review. At TeachAIDS, Piya leads a team of world experts in medicine, public health, and education to develop innovative, deeply researched, and culturally appropriate interactive software for HIV/AIDS prevention around the world. The software is designed in a modular form, allowing it to be localized to teach taboo topics in a culturally sensitive way.  All of the TeachAIDS materials are under a Creative Commons license, making it possible for individuals and organizations to disseminate education to those who need it the most — for free.  To date, the material is available in 15 languages and has reached over 70 countries and numerous educators, governments, and NGOs, impacting millions of lives for the better.

In speaking of the success and widespread adoption of TeachAIDS' materials in communities throughout the world, Piya has described her rigorous and painstaking focus on quality in translation, and on balance of comfort, clarity, and brevity of visual presentation in light of local cultural norms.  Dr. Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor and TeachAIDS advisor and board member, has commented that “the TeachAIDS software has comfort rates that are in Disney territory, which is remarkable for a curriculum on such a sensitive topic. It is providing the best HIV education in the world, and is accessible to those prevented from learning because of cultural taboos or costs.”​

Piya is also a Lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, and an Adjunct Affiliate at Stanford's School of Medicine.  She received her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design and her M.A. in Education from Stanford. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Economics, B.S. in Journalism, and B.S. in Information Systems. She has been an invited speaker at numerous universities including Caltech, Columbia, Tsinghua, Utrecht, and Yale.

In 2011, MIT Technology Review named her to its TR35 list of the top 35 innovators in the world under 35.  ​Prior to TeachAIDS, Sorcar was a founding member of XRI Inc. (a medical and literacy media technology nonprofit). She has also been a screenplay consultant for many international award-winning children's educational programs, and was nominated for a Regional Emmy Award for Lead Actress.

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