All students entering the undergraduate programme go through our common core, The Foundation Programme, in the first year. This Programme builds the foundations of interdisciplinary learning at Ahmedabad University and engage with issues of the society through project-based learning. The Foundation programme is built around six domains that define contemporary academic and life skills in the 21st century, areas of innovation that are transforming the world, and perspectives that help become a responsible member of any society. This includes:
|Skills||Perspective Building||Areas of Innovation|
|Communication||Constitution & Civilization||Biology & Life|
The delivery of these areas is done in a thematic manner to develop amongst our students a holistic approach to thinking and enquiry where they would learn to understand multiple issues that defines a problem and learn the art and science of synthesis. Students complete four thematic Studios of learning that integrates the above-mentioned domains together creating a more effective way of thinking and problem solving. The thematic Studios for 2021-22 are:
Water | Environment and Climate Change | Democracy and Justice | Neighbourhoods
The idea is to engage the students’ imagination with contemporary problems that the society, in which they live, encounters. Studios bring interdisciplinary engagement, experiential learning & research thinking together in the classroom. Each theme is explored through a set of domains thereby creating interdisciplinary learning. Students will learn that many systems of knowledge are required to solve challenging problems.
Another innovation lies in the delivery of these thematic modules in a studio format through experiential learning. Students learn to apply theory and connect ideas across different disciplines. The Foundation Programme is evaluated on a Passed/Not Passed basis to ensure that students are fully focused on the joy of learning. Students also display their work during the exhibition or the Foundation Programme EXPOs that are open to the university community and the parents.
At Ahmedabad University the goal of the undergraduate curriculum is first and foremost to make a student a thinking citizen of the country and the world, with the abilities and the inclination to make the world a better place, and then an engineer or a manager or a history major. This underlying philosophy then dictates how we design our undergraduate programme. It is different from that of more traditional undergraduate programmes and therefore this undergraduate programme cannot be compared with other programmes that focus only on one discipline of study.
We aim to create a future engineer and manager and history major with an awareness of societal issues and the critical thinking skills to address them, along with domain knowledge. That is why all our students experience the Foundation Programme, and all will take many courses outside their discipline under the General Education Requirements. We believe India needs well informed and socially conscious citizens, and so does our planet.
We also firmly believe that if we only teach students courses in their discipline only and do not expose them to the interdisciplinary nature of issues and opportunities, their future career prospects will suffer – they may get their first job easily enough but as they rise in their organisation they will be denied opportunities for growth, i.e. promotion to positions of greater responsibility, if they do not have a larger vision. In fact, while the Foundation Programme is listed as four Studios on Democracy and Justice, Environment and Climate Change, Neighbourhoods and Water, for us these are vehicles to provide students a foundation in various topics in domains of Biology and Life, Materials, Constitution and Civilisation, Behaviour, Data Science and Communication.
The nature of traditional jobs and work places is also fast changing. The mechanical and computer engineer of today are together designing driverless cars that will also have to make decisions on whether to avoid hitting another car or a child who has strayed on to the road. Equations may not help there, one needs some notion of ethics and the ability to debate contentious issues that do not have simple solutions. Debates in the Democracy and Justice Studio, for example, will teach our students that, while satisfying one goal of the Communication Domain. A business manager who is overseeing a shift to a policy of working from home should be aware that for some employees leaving home allows them to escape more constraining environments. Students will learn about gender issues in the Studio on Water, as part of the goals of the Behaviour Domain. A large part of India lives in neighbourhoods that are varied in many respects. Visiting different parts of Ahmedabad, as students will do in the Neighbourhoods and Water Studios, gives them a perspective on issues citizens face in these localities and the Materials at their disposal and the possibility of a new product or service that can be launched for them. Those who recognise the dangers of environmental damage and climate change, as discussed in the Environment and Climate Change Studio and listed under the Constitution and Civilisation Domain, can also seize the opportunity to propose and propel the technological and policy solutions needed to limit the damage.
Thus while the Foundation Programme touches on Themes, that at the outset, may seem unrelated to the discipline of study of a student, in reality the Studios provide the foundation in various Domains that will serve students well both in the coursework in their discipline and in their subsequent careers. For example, topics covered under the Constitution and Civilisation domain include important elements of the Indian Constitution and nature of communities and its influence on the behaviour of individuals, and the perception and reaction of different persons to the same information; topics under the Biology and Life domain include the data collection, data organization, data visualization, etc. One important aspect of the Foundation Programme and the entire undergraduate learning at Ahmedabad is our emphasis on Communication – to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and simply.
One of the purposes of a University education is to expose students to new experiences and to help them understand and critically think about these experiences. The Foundation Programme will require students to visit parts of Ahmedabad that they may not be familiar with and to engage with the people from different backgrounds who form the rich matrix of communities that live in Ahmedabad.
The Foundation Programme involves both lectures and activities. In addition, students will be introduced to academic articles about issues related to each Theme and Domain.These will provide the intellectual framework needed to appreciate these issues and will provide an introduction to students as to how academic articles are composed.
The Foundation Programme is delivered through Thematic Studios that are interdisciplinary and immersive courses. The duration of each Studio is four weeks. Students practically spend the entire day working with the studio. Each Studio is divided into four, one week-long modules each of which address one important aspect related to the Theme. The final module may involve an activity that requires students to integrate the learning of the previous weeks into creating a final outcome in the form of a resolution of a problem, a document, an object, etc. The six Domains of engagement and learning are delivered through different Studios.
The Studios will engage the student from 9:45 am to 4:30 pm. The morning sessions are faculty led and they include lectures and discussions while the activities in the afternoon are project driven and are coordinated by Teaching Assistants.