Innovation in University education is long overdue. In the 21st Century, Universities can no longer afford to continue to work with content and forms of education, that are over a century old. TDU seeks to be innovative in several ways. We view teachers as friends and mentors. We expect students to look up content online and assimilate it to the extent possible, at home. The classroom is the place for questions, discussion and dialogue and not for one-way lectures. Education must also be imparted through experiential learning and exposure of students to ground realities in the domains they have chosen.
I am very keen that the TDU adopts a platform that uses information technology to scale education so that equity and access is significantly enhanced. We are also collaborating with the very best knowledge institutions in India and abroad to create opportunities for transdisciplinary learning so that students who have selected a particular subject focus also have an opportunity through electives to get introduced to contemporary issues in disciplines ranging from medicine, design, cinema, performing arts, engineering to enterprise and management.
I am a strong believer in Gandhi and even today I am inspired by his ethical spirit, self-discipline and the sense of deep social responsibility that guided him.
Welcome to India’s first transdisciplinary University that tries to widen perspectives through not only conventional, inter and multi-disciplinary opportunities rooted in the mainstream western cultural and intellectual traditions but also through exposure to cross cultural perspectives, particularly in the context of India’s rich intellectual and cultural legacy, which has been evolving for over 5000 years.
I invite young minds, to join TDU and learn to learn, argue, dream up ideas and ways to convert them into actions that can over the years change India.
How is Trans-Disciplinary different from inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary streams of knowledge? All these three streams provide perspectives to observe, understand and interpret nature and society. The intention underlying them is the same. It is to make the knowledge seeker’s understanding of nature and society, relatively more holistic as compared to a single disciplinary perspective.
In case of inter-disciplinary for example bio-physics, it is a collaboration between biology and physics in order to understand the dynamics of biological change. In the case of multi-disciplinary for example “town planning” a number of disciplines like architecture, engineering, economics, transportation, sociology, environmental studies, management and so on come together to plan a city. However in both these cases the collaboration is between disciplines which have common world views on nature and society. Biology, physics, architecture, engineering, economics, transportation, sociology, environmental studies, management…….are categories of knowledge all of which are products of the western cultural and intellectual paradigm.
Trans-Disciplinary in the sense, it is conceived in TDU, is a cross-cultural collaboration between disciplines which have their roots in different cultural and intellectual traditions. For example TDU has an important ongoing program on Ayurveda-Biology. This is a trans-disciplinary program because the collaboration is between biology which is based on a western scientific tradition, involving molecular biology, logical positivism and post aristolean logic and Ayurveda which has its roots in panchmahabhut sidhanth, sankhya and nyaya. It has been demonstrated that while the collaboration is complex, it is not only possible but extremely fruitful and may yield original contributions to the world of knowledge. There can be several other trans-disciplinary collaborations for example fusion music, vernacular architecture, European-Afro art (Picasso) and so on.
I strongly believe that TDU must promote a culture of experiential learning and competency based evaluation systems and discard the old Victorian education models of teaching and examinations.
Our biggest challenge is young, competent faculty far better than ourselves and enthusiastic students who want to liberate themselves from silos and modes of learning that conventional education puts us into. With the participation of such faculty and students in a non-hierarchical relationship, the TDU University platform will flower and grow.