Panel discussion on Essentials of Building a Global University

At Chanakya University, the faculty revels in the privilege of frequently getting to have intellectual exchanges with pioneers, innovators, and leaders from different fields of human endeavor. Witnessing the confluence of ideas and unbridled sharing of professional experiences are surely special, yet, not rare occurrences at Chanakya University. 

On May 9th, the faculty members at Chanakya University got to attend the discussion between the panelists of great eminence, intellectual salience, and distinction. They all were from diverse fields, a commitment to the cause of education being the point they converged on.   

The panel discussion was on a subject that resonates with the most idealistic and ambitious educationists and edupreneurs, it was “Essentials of Building a Global University”.  

The panelists included:

Professor Manjul Bhargava – Princeton University academic, a mathematician of global renown, Fields Medalist, recipient of Padma Bhushan, Sri Anurag Behar – Chief Executive Officer of the Azim Premji Foundation, Sri Ricky Kej – Renowned Indian Music Composer and 3X Grammy Award Winner, and Sri. Shankar Maruwada – Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at EkStep Foundation and Prof. M.D. Srinivas – Renowned scholar and Chairman, Center for Policy Studies. 

Sri Anurag Behar, drawing from a wealth of experience he gained after overseeing the establishment and expansion of one of the finest higher educational institutions in very diverse social milieus and geographies within India, notably Azim Premji University, Sri Anurag said, “Academic intensity and scholarly way of life must not become the reason to discount the value of management and administrative robustness and operational streamlining. It is extremely important to cultivate several tiers of managerial leadership and institutionalize an administrative system that is consistent with the values of the university. And as far as creating a global educational ecosystem is concerned, they are not based on easy alternatives and grasping at low-hanging fruits. They are consistent in upholding their character and institutional personality in every detail, so it’s not great infrastructure or academic rigor for them it is always great infrastructure and academic rigor.”

Professor M.D. Srinivas opined that an educational institution of global standing is both the cause and effect of a society that is driven by pride, purpose and a peerless intellectual legacy. Pointing to the recent works of scholarship, he said, “There are well-researched academic works that are arguing that the universally admired and accepted European university model, its composition, orientation and operational details are inspired by the ancient Indian university systems like Takshashila and Nalanda – global institutions by any yardstick. 

Sri Shekhar Maruwada stated his views on the subject and said, “A global university has a signature borne by its students, alumni, and teachers. It is an empowering sense of belongingness. It is also akin to shouldering responsibility and the weight of expectations. I have studied at an IIT and IIM and have closely witnessed the consistent striving for setting standards and outdoing oneself.”   

Prof. Manjul Bhargava, underscoring three main attributes of a global university, said “A global university is a composite of outstanding research, outstanding teaching and outstanding service. Outstanding research leads to the creation of knowledge which is the hallmark of a great institution. It must be coupled with multidirectional teaching and learning, i.e., teaching-learning must happen in all parlances i.e., between teachers and students, between students mutually, and among teachers across disciplines, engendering true multidisciplinarity. In short, it’s a community of perpetual learners and a knowledge-sharing and generating ecosystem. Outstanding service is also a component of a global center of learning, it implies that it empowers society through human and intellectual capital it creates.”

Sri Ricky Kej, voiced his opinion succinctly, “I am, as you would expect, a biased votary of promoting visual and performing arts within the wider array of liberal arts, incentivizing creativity, and providing avenues of expression. Every institution that wishes to become an entity that the world reckons with must have its creative and cultural legacy and must demonstrably sustain it. It must have the capability to drive and inspire innovation that could lead to the resolution of global problems.”

The panel discussion was followed by the Q and A session. The leadership and faculty members interacted with the panelists and a volley of thought-provoking questions ensued. The panelists were asked about the operational nuances, cultural sustainability, the concept of freedom in an educational context, and many such insightful questions, and sure enough, these were met with insightful answers.