Sabyasachi Das, Assistant Professor of Economics at Ashoka University, Haryana discusses how such programs train the students for a great career
Q. How do you see an interdisciplinary program intersecting with an area of expertise?
One should make a distinction between an interdisciplinary course and program. In the mainstream program of an undergraduate degree in Economics, it is possible to include various interdisciplinary courses. In Ashoka University, for example, I teach an elective course on Political Economy to the third year undergraduate students doing an Economics major. The course lies at the intersection of Economics and Political Science. Similarly, my colleagues teach courses on Experimental Economics and Behavioral Economics, Economics of Gender, etc which are also interdisciplinary in nature.
The future of policymaking and governance depends a lot on how these two broad streams of knowledge can be harnessed and combined to produce new forms of knowledge
Q. What are the career prospects to the students who have enrolled in this program?
In Economics program, there are courses such as Economics and History or Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), etc. These programs are focused on grooming students with an interdisciplinary bent of mind and require them to take courses across disciplines. Both interdisciplinary programs, as well as conventional programs with an interdisciplinary thrust; add great value to students in orienting them to think about multiple approaches to studying human behaviour. The students often find employment with policy evaluation agencies, think tanks or NGOs, especially after doing a Masters Degree in similar interdisciplinary fields.
Q. Where is India now in terms of accepting such programs on a global scale?
India is now opening itself up to these kinds of program. These kinds of programs, however, still occupy a niche in the Indian higher education system and are yet to become a regular feature of undergraduate curriculum.
Q. What advancements will take place by combining Science and Humanities?
The future of policymaking and governance depends a lot on how these two broad streams of knowledge can be harnessed and combined to produce new forms of knowledge. Humanities can bring the overlooked areas into the ambit of attention when policy making takes place and thus can make the discussion around policies more expansive and inclusive. Science, on the other hand, can help policymakers tremendously by helping them optimize their implementation design and fix the parameters of the policy through rigorous data analysis.