Afirm believer that research opens doors to the future, Simon Khatushi came all the way from Kenya to turn his ideas into reality at the Department of Environmental Studies (DES), University of Delhi. A reasonable fee and the reputation of the university were the two factors that helped Khatushi make up his mind. “Research is important for a country’s progress. I, therefore, always wanted to do something in the field. MSc in environmental studies offers great scope. Being a part of the world-class university, the department offers immense ­exposure to all students. Joining Delhi University (DU) was a great bargain for me. I paid around `9,000 a year for a course that would have cost me `1 lakh a year in my own country. Besides being reasonably priced, there is no ­compromise on quality of ­education.” Though language is a barrier for Khatushi, he enjoys working in groups and taking trips to bio-diversity parks as part of the curriculum.
USP: With an aim to nurture leaders of tomorrow who can tackle environmental issues, DES was established in 2001 by DU. Formerly known as the School of Environmental Studies, the department ­promotes research and training in environment and ­ecology by offering MA and MSc ­programmes. It is the first and the only department in Delhi to offer postgraduate degrees in the humanities (MA) as well as the science streams (MSc). The interdisciplinary approach adopted by DES in teaching ­environmental ­studies makes it distinct from the other ­universities imparting ­courses in this field.
In the first semester, both MA and MSc students have a common module which includes papers like introduction to environmental sciences, social perspectives on environment, environment, development and sustainability, and methodologies for environmental studies.
“Environment is not only about sciences but includes social sciences as well. By ­presenting a composite and robust face of environment, we enable students to become ­capable of being useful to the society. Our aim is to push the frontiers of research and ­knowledge,” says Maharaj K Pandit, professor of ­environmental studies.
“In the last semester, the students have the ­flexibility of choosing their own field of ­interest, depending on which they can select ­faculty ­members,” says Devika, who is currently doing a PhD ­programme from DES. “I have been associated with this ­department for six years. Unlike other institutes, this ­department offers an amalgamation of ­various aspects of ­ecology. Due to this, students get a lot of ­exposure in this field,” she adds.
Eligibility: Every year the ­department receives more than 2,000 ­applications for around 54 seats (23 for MA and 31 for MSc stream). Any undergraduate (BA/BSc/BCom Hons/pass course) from University of Delhi or any other university whose examination is ­recognised as equivalent and fulfilling other conditions of eligibility can apply for this course. The candidate must qualify the entrance test to be conducted by the department. An aggregate of 55% or above in graduation is required to appear for the entrance test. The department also offers PhD programmes in environmental studies.
Infrastructure: The ­department is well-equipped with science labs, computer lab and classrooms. “Knowledge is imparted through modern ­pedagogical methodology of teaching. We provide IT-based learning and most of the ­lectures are taken through power point presentations,” says Pandit.
The department also has a ­state-of-the-art auditorium for seminars and workshops and a library. The faculty and research students have access to the Yamuna and Aravalli ­biodiversity parks, ­and eco-parks being ­maintained by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). These parks provide ­opportunities for ­field-oriented research by ­faculty and research students.
Faculty: The institute has a dedicated faculty from diverse fields of ecology. “With the help of a globally renowned ­faculty in the department, we provide ­internationally ­competitive research and teaching ­environment to our students,” says Pandit.
Guest lecturers and scientists also visit the ­department to conduct seminars and workshops.
Activities: After ­finishing their first year exams, ­students are encouraged to take up summer internships with an environment-related institute, research lab or organisation to widen their perspective on ­environmental issues.
In 2009, the School of Environmental Studies and Department of Environmental Biology were merged and renamed as the Department of Environmental Sciences
“Practical work should start from the first year and trips to ­bio-diversity parks should be organised on a regular basis,” says Simon Khatushi, a second-year student