Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Engaging Social Sciences in the 21st Century – Curriculum, Research, Pedagogy and Practice

The one day workshop on ‘Engaging Social Sciences in the 21st Century – Curriculum, Research, Pedagogy and Practice’ organized by the Department of Sociology, Christ University and National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore on March 17, 2014, was a platform where we as academic practitioners reflected on the curriculum, research and best practices in our own disciplines and there by thinking on the ways to transform our pedagogies in tune with the arising demands of the society.
In his inaugural address, Prof. V.S Ramamurthy, Director, NIAS, spoke about the relevance
of sociology and social sciences in systematically addressing the problems of society. He set the
tone for the workshop by calling for a ‘Bangalore Academia of Social Sciences’. 
The workshop was divided into four technical sessions. The first session was on the theme ‘Curriculum Design: Emerging Trends’. Dr. Anil Pinto, Registrar, Christ University, threw light on the changing trends in higher education sector with the technological advancements since 1993 with the opening up of internet services to the public. He stressed on assessment of knowledge, skills and values, the need to focus on learning outcome instead of learning objectives while developing curriculum, theme based curriculum and the need to promote formative and summative assessment.
Dr. Shivali Tukdeo, NIAS, made her presentation on Changing trends and the Relevance of Social Science Research. She spoke about the Friction between Indigenous systems of knowledge production and that which was transplanted from the Western frameworks. The four trends she focused were the emergence of new disciplines/peripheral areas of inquiry; intersectionality in selection of problems and analysis; multidisciplinarity and the prominence of applied studies 
The second session was on the theme Curriculum transaction. The first speaker: Dr Neeraja Rao, had her presentation based on the existing practices at Stella Maris College, Chennai. She addressed planning of courses in tune with contemporary realities, and different levels of assessment patterns for the highly motivated and the not so motivated students. She spoke about the introduction of Electives catering to the employability of students and the interlinkages necessary between UG contents and PG content. Other best practices were independent Study courses for highly motivated students and bridge courses for first generation learners.
The second speaker for the session, Prof. Vinay M, provided a glimpse of ICT at Christ University. His focus was on how teacher-student transaction has been transformed with the help of technology. Various technology based services available to students and faculty at Christ both for administrative and academic purposes were addressed. The interesting part of the presentation was an overview of the various free and open source software which are both user friendly for a person with social science back ground and at the same time make the learning process more interesting.
The post lunch session was on Best Practices at various institutions and departments. Dr. Samson R Victor and Prof. Greta D’Souza from the department of Education, CU, shared the best practices in teaching and learning process. They talked about the different learning methods which can make the learning process innovative and interesting. Their presentation revolved around how teaching at Christ University is a blend of teacher controlled, student controlled and technology based learning. Different methods and approaches which they use include peer evaluation, group learning, jigsaw method, cooperative learning method, reflective learning, problem based learning, programme instruction, role plays, and dramatisation. Brainstorming, Think pair and share, Learning management System, Journal Club, Digital Learning methods are other strategies being used currently.
Responding to these presentations Prof. Saurabha from Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian College spoke about the challenges with in a formal education system. She discussed about both the Problems within the system and the Challenges of being affiliated to a university where teachers have little choice/ flexibility in terms of syllabus and teaching-learning methods. This was followed by intense dialogue between the participants from different institutions.
All institutions have started introducing technology in teaching- learning; or initiatives to enhance computer literacy but everybody agreed that it will take time to become techno-savy. The missing link between usage of technology and employability and also the value/ moral dimension of education was highlighted. The larger question of the role of education to create holistic growth of individuals has also been taken up. The discussions focussed on the role of teacher as a facilitator helping the students to construct knowledge.
The fourth session was on Research. Dr. Smriti Haricharan’s (NIAS) presentation was on ‘Inter-disciplinarity in Research’. She focused on how inter-disciplinarity comes into archaeology by delving into megalithic burials. She explained how aspects of geology, history, literature, ethnography and archaeology blend together in her research.
Dr. D N S Kumar, Associate Director, Centre for Social Research, Christ University spoke on ‘Connecting Research with Teaching’. He addressed how research and consultancy will help us to connect with the socio-economic realities by giving various cases where research and consultancy have helped solve problems. He also stressed on the possibilities of creating data banks at the institutional level and also the possibility of diverting CSR funds as a better model for industry academia collaboration.
Teachers engaged in research and consultancy can take these real life experiences to the classes so that students can also be motivated to engage smaller research projects. Prof. Krishnaswamy, in his valedictory address shared his deep concern for the crisis faced by humanities and social sciences in contemporary society. He discussed how hedonism creeps into all levels of human life including that of higher education. He reiterated the urgent need to look at the goal of education from a holistic approach by synergizing basic disciplines and social sciences with advanced applied disciplines.
The one day intellectual exercise ended with all the participants taking home a lot to think and reflect upon. The workshop ended on a positive note with the possibility of moving forward to materialize the larger goal of forming a forum - Bangalore Academia of Social Sciences.

National Seminar on Poverty and social exclusion in India: Need for paradigm shift towards an inclusive society

The Department of Sociology, Christ University in collaboration with Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore organized a two day national seminar on 12 and 13 March 2014, on the theme ‘Poverty and social exclusion in India: Need for paradigm shift towards an inclusive society’. It was funded by Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi. The seminar aimed at enabling dialogues on the conceptualization of poverty and social exclusion in India. It was attended by several   academicians, faculty and research scholars, policy planners, officials, representatives of civil society, NGOs, media, social and development practitioners from Bangalore and all across India.  
Various aspects of poverty and social exclusion, especially the multidimensionality with respect to its intersection with social, economic and political exclusion were presented and discussed in this seminar.  We hope that the deliberations and discussions have given the participants an opportunity to reflect on the theory and practice of poverty and social exclusion to build an inclusive society.

Inaugural Address
In his key note address, Dr. Binay Kumar Pattnaik, Director, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) set the tone for the seminar by introducing the concepts of poverty and social exclusion. He started with various theories of poverty and how it has been understood and debated by various scholars in different parts of the world. He elaborated on the four theories of poverty starting from the theory of Oscar Lewis to Anthony Giddens. He strongly disagreed with the idea of social exclusion given by Giddens. He also explained the changing definitions of poverty from just economic dimension to that of a standard social living. Thus, he could contextualize the theme of the seminar and its relevance in the Indian context.
Release of the Proceedings of the Seminar
Release of the Research Series

 The proceedings of the seminar as well as a research series were released by the dignitaries during the inaugural session. The seminar had four sessions per day. Each session was defined with a specific conceptual framework. 

Valedictory Program
Dr. Anil J Pinto, Registrar, Christ University, in his valedictory address stressed the role of higher education institutions like Christ University in bridging theory and practice. The two day intellectual exercise ended by leaving lot of inputs for the academic fraternity to reflect on and to work upon.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Presentations on Indian Society by II PSEng, 2013-14

Indian Society is a vast varied society with no singularity or homogenity to the entirety of the nation, the language, the myths, the practices, the culture all have their own unique origins and histories that have developed into modern day India as we know it. In an attempt to both educate and enlighten both themselves and their classmates, each individual of the class had chosen a topic coming broadly under the topics of Linguistics, Races, Religion, Family, Caste and Occupation, under the direction of Dr. Sheila Mattews. 
          The presentations began with the Linguistics group who approached the topic by initially with the division of India into the various regions that make up the whole, and through this exemplified the diversity that can be found in India in that very process with the number of languages to be found in the country. With the presentations by the individuals they attempted to bring out the manner in which these languages have taken shape in India, the process of invasion and colonisation and how these affected some areas but not other, yet all sharing common aspects in their speech, or their script and  so on. This uniformity of diversity and commonality across India clearly points towards the pluralistic nature of Indian society.

          Following the Linguistics group was the Races group, handling the various racial backgrounds of the people in India, from all over the country. They discussed the division of the races in India on the basis of their various physical characteristics and the manner in which they came to be in India, through the many centuries of history that is in India's past, from the Dravidians, to the Mongoloids, to the Indo-Aryans and the races that followed as well as a result of interaction between these races. How these races were spread across India and their arrival in India itself was discussed with reference to the many conquering forces that have come to India, the Mughals, the Mongols, and many others.

          Having gathered what the heterogenuous mass of our population roughly looks like and talks like the presentations moved on to the beliefs of the many, many division and denominations of our country. With the various tides of changes that have occured over the land of India so too have thoughts and ideas about the individual's origin as well as the origin of the world. The group that had taken up this topic included the religions of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism,  Sikhism, Christianity and its many denominations, Hinduism. Islam and the Tribal religions – like Sunmaism, derivatives of the Bond religion of Tibet and others. With India being the place of birth of some of these religions and its acceptance and adaption of these other religions into its own practices and customs shows us the pluralistic nature of India.

          The group following this were given the topic of Caste and Occupation and spoke of how it was thought to be primarily a Hindu practice, but in reality how it cuts across religions to form systems of social stratification, its presence and prevailance in both Islamic, Christian and Buddhist practices.The idea of reservation on the basis of Caste was discussed with reference to SCs and STs as well as OBCs and Dalit Christians with the changes in thought about the concept over time as well as the intial division of influencial forces in India, such as Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, about the issue.

          The final group's topic for presentation was Family and the discussion covered the types of families that could be found across India, dividied on the basis of lineage, heriditary, residence, marriage- both polygamous/monogamous and polyandry. Looking at the family structure that could be found in the different religions across India.

          With this concluded the presentations of PSEng on the various aspects of Indian Society- through which one could see the pluralistic nature of India in its current context as well as its development into such a situation.

-Michael Varghese

Release of 'Insights from the Field'

MA Applied Sociology is a Masters program offered by the Department of Sociology, Christ University. The Department has been one of the pioneers in the area of Social Science in Bangalore. This program is significant in its scope and reach, as it extends the discipline of Sociology from beyond its theoretical foundations, to application in various fields such as research, the Non Governmental sector, public sector undertakings, Human Resources, Public Relations and the media.
In keeping with the essence of the program, the Department has introduced internships for students during the third semester. The Department recognizes that learning from the classroom is not always as effective as learning through experience. The internships have thus been conceptualized to impart experiential learning.  The students of the first batch of the Masters program in Applied Sociology, thus, undertook internships in organizations within the Corporate Sector, Non Government Organizations, Educational Organizations and Research units during their summer break in 2013.
This booklet consolidates some of their experiences, which have proven to be a wonderful learning opportunity for the students of the first batch, and will also be enlightening for the batches that will follow. The organizations that they have interned with cover a wide range of organizations and thus have helped bring in a wide variety of learning experiences into the classroom. This booklet was released on March 17, 2014.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

International Women's Day Celebration 2014

The Department of Sociology came together with the Department of Social Work and the Center for Social Action to celebrate the 100th International Women's Day Celebration. Students from I EPS let a slogan and a signature campaign on the campus. Ayushi Mehta, Tanseem Fatima, Mridula Kore, Nayona Banerjee, Semren Singh, and Anagha Jaipal led the campaign across campus.

Students from the Department of Social Work performed a street play to encapsulate the need for this significant day.

Addressing the crowd, Prof. Mallika Krishnaswami, Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences, said it was a day to pay tribute to one of the most wonderful creations of God. Saying no matter what you call her - the fairer sex, the necessary evil, the angel or the devil - she is an indispensable part of human existence, she referred to the important roles women play in our lives, as daughter, sister, friend, mother or grandmother. Believing women to be a powerful tool in bringing about change, she stressed upon the need to empower women as ‘the hand that rocks the cradle can rule the world’. Positive that women can contribute significantly to society, she added that International Women’s Day is a day to express gratitude to the women in our lives and that at Christ University we believe in treating women with pride and dignity, with all due respect to her, in line with the UN theme “Equality for Women is Progress for All”.

This celebration on Christ University Campus also saw hundreds of students joining together to form a human chain and get together to take a pledge.

This pledge was designed by Ms Brinda from the final year PSEco. She led the group as they took the following pledge:
We the free brethren of our motherland solemnly pledge to standby  the woman of our society in all their endeavors
We will ensure that archaic notions of a homely wife, a silent sister  and an inferior colleague are cast away and strive to celebrate their independence and individuality in a free society.
We strongly condemn acts of violence and crimes meted out to the women of our country and pledge to never remain silent in the face of such an atrocity. 
We understand that a truly free and liberated society can be built on the foundation of equality and it is our utmost duty to sensitize our fellow citizens in this regard. 
It is not the dreams and aspirations of women  that need to be curtailed but the gender bias rooted in society.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Workshop on Logical Framework Analysis

The workshop on Logical Framework Analysis was organized by the Department of Sociology on March  5, 2014. The resource person for the day was Dr. Godfred Victor Singh (Director, Center for Social Action, Christ University). It was held in Christ University, Bangalore. This two hour workshop was the second of two workshops. the first being conducted on November 13, 2013. The participants were the students of II MA Applied Sociology.
As this workshop was a continuation of the previous one, Dr. Godfred Victor Singh began with a recap. He first spoke about how Logical Framework Analysis is useful in the developmental context and the methods for developing indicators that corresponds to the Log Frame descriptive statements.  He further spoke about the project management cycle.
The resource person primarily spoke about the things that can be monitored through Logical Framework Analysis some of which are inputs, activities, outputs, impacts, process, assumption and key cross cutting issues/principles.  He gave us a very detailed description about the factors that promote a realistic Logical Framework Analysis or Logical Framework Matrix some of which include Base line survey, Resource availability, Problem Tree analysis, SWOC/T analysis and periodic evaluation.
Base line survey includes collection of qualitative information, collection of quantitative data, data analysis process, interpretation of data and project proposal. Resource Availability includes committed personnel, quality materials and guaranteed funds.  Risk analysis includes, external risks and internal risks, analysis of factors which may influence the implementation of the project and hence the achievement of objectives, alternative strategies maybe needed and risk management. Problem tree Analysis is a deeper analysis of a problem that exists. It analyzes the root cause of the existing problem. It explores the cultural/attitudinal/behavioral and economical and political factors that gives rise to the problem. SWOT/C Analysis is a tool for auditing, identifying for example an environment, agency, company and organization.
The workshop was a very informative one and helped each student to get a very clear understanding about Logical Framework Analysis. The Framework is very helpful for those who seek to pursue project/program management as their career.

We would like to thank Dr. Godfred Victor Singh for such an insightful workshop and all his valuable inputs. 

Alumni Meet 2014

The Department of Sociology organized its alumni reunion on January 26, 2014. It was attended by students who finished their undergraduate and post graduate courses from the University. The meeting began by 3 pm in Room C105, Central Block. Dr. Pritha Dasgupta, Head, Department of Sociology welcomed the gathering. It was followed by the sharing of experience by the alumni members.  Mr Anup Lal, President, Alumni Association for the Department of Sociolgoy in his presidential address spoke on the need for networking between the institution and the alumni. University alumni association president Mr. Jugnu Oberoi also visited the Sociology chapter and addressed the members. It was a good platform for the students pursuing their post graduation courses to learn about the career prospects and also to build networks. The session got over by 5 pm with a high tea.

The Presidential Address by the Sociology Chapter President Mr Anup Lal
Address by the President, Christ University Alumni Association, Mr Jugnu Oberoi