Having 11 Master’s programmes running on its two-year-old campus at Vasant Kunj, Delhi, TERI University is set to offer an MA in sustainable development practice from July 2010. It is one of the 10 universities worldwide selected by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation to introduce this degree. Arabinda Mishra, dean, faculty of policy and planning, TERI University, sheds light on the programme:
How different is this from social welfare programmes run in other universities?
It is an inter-disciplinary programme in which you have to choose courses from social sciences, natural sciences and engineering, management sciences and health care sciences. Another feature is its practical orientation. In every semester, students will spend some time with NGOs, policy makers, development agencies or corporate houses. The last semester will comprise only field visits and a project.
How has the curriculum been designed?
Our aim is capacity-building for development organisations. To meet this objective, we have created a consortium of universities and institutions, namely TERI, North Carolina University, the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia (England), United Nations University (Japan), Basque Centre for Climate Change (Spain) and Public Health Foundation of India (Delhi). Our curriculum is case studies-centric and teachers will facilitate learning through peer interactions.
As the programme substantially deals with social sciences, would humanities students have an edge?
That’s not true. We want to have a diverse mix of students from all streams — humanities, healthcare, management and engineering. A mixed bag of students will create a conducive learning environment. In the corporate sector, only managerial skills are useful, whereas in the domain of sustainable development, one has to develop the sensitivities used in social sciences while learning the conventional skills of management. So, it would be an added advantage if students have varied backgrounds so that they can learn through knowledge-sharing too. We are encouraging foreign students, too, to apply in good numbers.
Who stands a better chance to make the cut — fresh graduates or experienced professionals?
We encourage both kinds of aspirants to apply. Though industry experience won’t make one stand out in the admission process, we would prefer to have both fresh as well as experienced students in the class of 30.