The first thing I remember hearing about the School of Human Studies (SHS) is that I should be prepared to read, read, and read some more,” says Shraddha Chatterjee, a student of the MA programme in psychology (psychosocial studies) at Ambedkar University Delhi’s School of Human Studies.
Even before Chatterjee had completed the BA (hons) psychology course, she was attracted to the MA psychology programme here because it was interdisciplinary and had a unique form of assessment. “Students have to make submissions all semester, instead of two solid blocks of exams that you can ace by trying to focus on the ‘right’ questions, like at DU. The entrance test in psychology made me feel welcome. We had a section on MCQs, while another section tested our critical thinking. We also had questions seeking our opinions on various issues related and unrelated to psychology. The interview helped me make up my mind that I want to study here,” recalls Chatterjee.
“At AUD, I’m receiving an education, and not just studying for the sake of it. The psychology programme is geared for interdisciplinary studies so we study history, philosophy, anthropology, and literature, among other subjects. The orientation of the syllabus ensures that we deepen our understanding of ourselves (necessary if you want a career in clinical psychology) and of the world around us. The course includes compulsory fieldwork and dissertation, which makes us better researchers and clinicians,” she adds.
Students have to understand theories and practices of psychoanalysis, critical psychology, gender studies, disability studies and engaged spiritual perspectives.
“These orientations will open the prospective psychologist to greater self awareness and empathy towards others. Students will also understand processes of social marginalisation and exclusion,” says Ashok Nagpal, professor and dean of the school.
One of the unique strengths of this programme lies in its well-developed interdisciplinary courses. Unlike most other MA programmes in psychology, three of its taught courses are interdisciplinary in their orientation as they draw heavily from anthropological understanding, radical philosophy, political thought and literary writings. “This programme thus has dual ambitions. It strives to help the potential psychologist reach psychological depth while promoting a wide range of understanding about social and historical processes,” adds Nagpal.
USP: The aim of the MA psychology (psychosocial clinical studies) programme is to engage with the processes of marginalisation in society. For students, this objective is facilitated through a special mentorship process. Ehsaas, a fully functioning clinic at SHS, is committed to providing low cost and free psychotherapeutic services to the society.
Other programmes: The MA programme by an intensive and well-conceptualised undergraduate BA honours programme offered at the university. It is also linked to an ongoing MPhil programme in psychotherapy and clinical thinking, as well as a PhD programme to be launched next month.
Faculty: There are currently 19 faculty members -a unique blend of critical psychologists, anthropologists, clinical and feminist psychologists and philosophers.
IT quotient: The Kashmere Gate campus is equipped with 250 computers in the Kashmere Gate campus connected through Wi-Fi. There are 100 computers in other schools with a 24x7 computer centre access for students.
Additionally, video and audio conferencing systems are being generated for live information exchange with collaborating institutions such as the New York University for teaching and supervision of clinical work at advanced levels.
Infrastructure: The university has two campuses, one in a heritage building in Kashmere Gate and other at Dwarka, with facilities such as air-conditioned classrooms, reading rooms, conference hall and a medical centre. The AUD library has a specialised collection of more than 14,000 books, 120 national and international print journals, magazines and 18 leading online publisher’s journal database (more than 13500 e-journals) in the area of humanities and social science. All the online resources can be accessed from outside of the campus as well.
Clubs and societies: Students have access to societies for theatre, dance, debates and literary activities. A sports committee and eco-club also keep the students busy. Societies for economics and visual culture have also been activated. There are periodic talks, lectures, screenings and performances on campus.
Laying emphasis on research work, field trips to folk healing traditional centres such as Mehndipur Balaji, Rajasthan and Betul, Madhya Pradesh, have been organised. Visit to a Tibetan refugee colony in Dharamsala is due.
Student speak: “There’s a certain freedom to be enjoyed in being part of a new university, which is not something that DU can offer. The faculty is extremely supportive, friendly, and eager to help. They’re approachable, literally at all hours of the day, and they help create a sense of family which is undeniable,” says Chatterjee.
This school was set up with an aim of bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners drawn from psychology, social anthropology, sociology, philosophy and social work to offer postgraduate and research programmes preparing professionals in psychotherapy, social work, rehabilitation studies, disability studies and other related areas
“We wish we were offered more elective subjects to give us more variety,” says Chatterjee