Reclaiming the field of liberal arts from the trouble zone – The path of Chanakya University

Author: Saiswaroopa Iyer

Assistant Professor and Author

School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Chanakya University

If 80s and 90s were a part of your childhood, you can very well connect to this disproportionate emphasis that our parents laid on STEM education. Taking up Arts and Humanities and in some cases, even Commerce, was a no-no because the last thing they wanted us to do was to languish in pursuit of the ever elusive employment, or worse, become prey to political agents and engage in arson! Yes, from where I come, ‘Arts College Students breaking buses’ was a common thing to hear about which led to ‘no decent parent would send their kid to arts’ premise. A thought that continues even today as a small survey on Social media told me. When I casually tweeted about whether the parents of today’s teens would be open to let them study arts and humanities, the responses, save some, were overwhelmingly negative.

How did a civilization that boasts about a glorious bouquet of 64 fine arts, countless folk arts Natyashastra, countless temples with breath taking sculptures and what not land in this thought seeped against arts? As someone trained in Technology and Management who discovered her true calling in literature, I am not wondering about this for the first time. What is missing in the curriculum of this field that has to be introduced at a war footing so that the students passing out of these fields find opportunities

Building Competence into the curriculum that actually empowers the students to fill the gaps in today’s industry and economy seems the first key to this complicated lock. When the course curricula are designed and built to work alongside potential employers rather than filling the three years of the students with some legacy material that comes of no use in their jobs is something that Chanakya University seems to be doing right at its dawn. Along with competence, is the flexibility to expand one’s horizons that makes a degree relevant. Something that the upcoming University is keen at achieving. The four years of graduation studies, while providing the skillset and broad direction, are also designed to weave in the student’s areas of passion or just an additional competence that provides a wholesome roundedness to the outgoing graduate’s personality. Gone will be the days where an individual’s inner calling would have to undergo a gruelling waiting period till his or her monetary and family responsibilities are fulfilled.

When those wonderful years transitioning from the teens to the twenties are filled with an empowering combination of skill, direction and passion while keeping with the dynamics of the outer world through industry programs, the parents might not need to worry about their wards’ future. What adds to the assurance is the university’s holistic and rigorous approach towards Indian Knowledge Systems, right from the foundation courses to intensive advanced courses that can strengthen the softcore of the student with the right combination of pride, belongingness and curiosity towards our roots.

The role of civilizational pride in determining an individual’s resilience while facing tough strides had been hugely undermined by the erstwhile education system while that understandably led the field of education facing employability and even existential challenges. With a centre dedicated to Indian Knowledge systems, steered by highly qualified experts who can embed civilizational content in an empowering tome, the University is ahead in its times.

Even as India as a nation ups her diplomatic assertiveness on the global stage, our youth deserve and need an overhaul of reorientation of curriculum that can transform their outlook towards their past and present. Chanakya University has fast identified the process of carving those niches, heralding a new era in education where Western hegemony and the irrelevant pedagogy are being challenged by a vibrant leadership team and passionate faculty that is set to herald a new era in the field of education.

Finally, parents of today’s teens can dream of a trailblazing innovator, a timeless writer, a genius environmentalist or an acclaimed scholar to emerge out of their homes when they send out their children to study the fields of Arts, Humanities and Social sciences. Then we would have truly reclaimed the field from the trouble zone.