Universities are asking the basic questions about how the education system can inspire young people to find their passion. If one loves what they do, they are more likely to be successful. To enable this change, Ahmedabad University started a series of initiatives to enable students discover who they want to be and what they want to make out of their lives.
For one, students can enroll in the university's four-year undergraduate programme without deciding on the course they want to pursue. The students get up to three semesters to explore their area of interest. "We allow students to come in with undeclared majors. Even if you opt for a BA program, they can take two-three semesters (a year) to figure if they want to major in psychology, political science or economics," says Bibek Banerjee, Senior Dean, Strategic Initiatives and Planning, Ahmedabad University.
Students are also encouraged to pick up a minor course across schools. For example, a student could be majoring in mechanical engineering, but can also purse a minor in finance.
Also, all the students irrespective of their disciplines have to attend a common module called Foundation course. "The course started as a pilot three to four years ago to expose students to the different issues in society so they can engage with them through project based learning," he says. It is built on four broad themes: democracy and justice, environment and climate change, neighbourhoods, and water. Each theme has six pillars which include data science, materials, biology and life, behaviour, constitution and civilisation, and communication.
Students understand each issue from different perspective that helps them define a problem and then they try to come up with solutions. For instance, under the Water course, students will have to understand and collect data that is available on water under the data science module. Within Materials and Biology, students will look at what are the materials and biology of water and how are people tapping group water. Students will have to then think of how to bring transformational change in its usage patterns as water is a critical resource. So, they will think about communication strategy that will change behavior and drive transformation. Also, since it is compulsory credit module, students across disciplines collaborate and work together on projects that help them build multiple perspectives. "The aim of these initiatives is to sensitise, inspire and excite that kid who is fresh out of 12th standard so that they can broaden their horizons and integrate courses of their interest in their course curriculum," says Banerjee.