Indian universities are at a cusp of a revolution. Indian students now have an option within the country to choose a variety of courses. It was in 2015, that Indian government made Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) or Inter-disciplinary studies (IDS) mandatory for all 400 public universities — at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Interdisciplinary studies
The decision was backed by 11th 5 year plan and the National Knowledge Commission. However, there were also some cases of protest by both student and university bodies about Choice Based Credit System. While few students opined CBCS to be devaluating their original core courses, few academicians proposed it to be affecting the autonomy of university.
Amid conflicting thoughts, ‘inter-disciplinary education’ nevertheless made its way into the system.
Today, 55% of Indian universities offer option for students to select the major and minor subjects. Here’s the representation of colleges and interdisciplinary courses offered by them:
|Ashoka University, New Delhi||Comp science & Entrepreneurship, Economics & Finance|
|Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, Delhi||Self-designed courses include Religious Studies and History, Art History and Literature, etc|
|FLAME University, Pune||Physical and Natural Sciences, Humanities|
|Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi||Psycology and economics, history and political science|
|Azim Premji University, Bangalore||Choice on Sustainability, Development, Education and Media|
|Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts, Pune||Major Specialization: Mathematics & Statistics, Computer Studies, Minor Specialization: Film Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Physics, Performing Arts and Law.|
|IIT Delhi||TRIPP, Optoelectronics,VDTT|
|IIT Kharagapur||Financial engineering, Petroleum Engineering|
|Miranda House, New Delhi||Operations research, Data science and Analytics, Nano-chemistry|
|Hansraj College, Delhi||Basic Science, Biotechnology and modern disciplines such as Nanotechnology, Biophysics and bio-chemistry|
|Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore||Artificial intelligence|
|Shiv Nadar University||Water science and policy|
|BML Munjal University||Finance and investment banking, Family business and entrepreneurship|
|Quantum University, Roorkee||Comp science and economics, Hotel Management and entrepreneurship|
|IIT Hyderabad||Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Humanity|
|LPU, Punjab||20+ minor subjects to choose|
|NIT Warangal||CSE subject with civil, mechanical or electrical|
What is interesting is that while public universities came under CBCS, the private ones moved a step ahead to adopt inter-disciplinary approach. Today, private universities like Ashoka University, OP Jindal Global University and FLAME University (see box) offer wide choice for students such as ‘Bachelor in Computer Science and Entrepreneurship’, ‘Bachelor in History and International Relations’ and many more. The students enrolled in these courses walk through balanced knowledge and skills that prepare them for challenges ahead.
What is Choice-based Credit System (CBCS)?
Choice based credit system (CBCS), is the scoring pattern in Higher Education wherein the student or knowledge seeker has the flexibility to choose their course from a list of compulsory, elective, and core courses. This is considered more student-centric owing to the permutations and combinations of lot many subjects. CBCS has mainly three kinds of subjects: Core Subjects, Compulsory Subjects and Elective subjects (as represented below). A student has to choose the elective subjects of their choice.
Motto behind Inter-disciplinary Studies
Since ages, the aim of education was to solve the real challenges through various disciplines of study. The deep study of each area gives solutions to specific sector. However, with emerging complexity of problems, it became increasingly difficult to look at a problem in isolation. It required a combination of studies to understand the true nature of the problem and solve it.
For instance, if a company has to research on ‘advanced features of mobile’, the company has to consider target age group (demographic survey), interests of the group (psychology), costs involved (financial planning) and technically possible up-gradations (Comp Science).
As such, solving real-world problem requires broader understanding of different areas.
The time story of IDS
Inter-disciplinary study evolved over the time and has spread from one part of the world to the other at its own pace. Right from mid 1800’s to 2015 in India, the table below explains the journey the IDS went through.
How graduating inter-disciplinary helps
Bill Glod from University for Humane Studies writes:
A philosopher who can think like an economist is more likely to produce work that economists want to read.
An economist who can think like a philosopher is more likely to appeal to philosophers.
As such, all the big things in world are inter-related. A basic knowledge of other field helps and promotes better coordination.
The diagram below shows the other benefits:
Experts-take on IDS: HRs and Academicians
Vikrant Yadav, Associate Director – Recruitment of United Health Care says, “Businesses always look for someone who has practical experience of projects, is confident about his work, and thinks independently with problem solving ability.”
“One of the clear benefits of interdisciplinary is that students gain different perspectives and get exposed more.”
He says, “We would like having someone in team with knowledge of multiple disciplines but won’t mind even if a person graduates from core field but has undergone projects of similar kind.”
As an academician with extensive experience, Michelle Phillips Buchberger, PhD, Miami University, co-author of book ‘Introduction to Inter-disciplinary Studies’ says, “This is the perfect time for Indian Universities to encourage interdisciplinary study. Today’s graduates face a rapidly changing work environment. They are also entering a world with complex problems that individual disciplines are ill-equipped to address. Historically, our educational systems have been set up to produce graduates who are specialized in only one academic area.”
She adds, “By contrast, interdisciplinary studies is a cognitive process where individuals or groups seek insights from all the disciplines relevant to the question being considered and then integrate these insights to gain a more holistic understanding of a complex problem.”
Interdisciplinary studies are here to stay | Interdisciplinary studies are here to stay