Liberal education is going to be the future of education: FLAME University VC
Universities need to explore the uncharted path and innovative methods when it comes to pedagogy, and playing the role of facilitators in a student's journey of finding their goals and preparing them for their future.
With the objective of instilling among students the importance of having a definite ‘Purpose’ in life for shaping their career, FLAME University hosted FLAME University Purpose Summit 2021 on January 23-24. Welcoming the speakers and guests, FLAME University Vice-Chancellor Dr Dishan Kamdar said that the importance of determining our purpose has become even more important now, given the uncertainties we faced in 2020 and continue to face today. "Each one of us must recalibrate our life’s priorities, set goals for ourselves to find success in the future," he said.
In an email interview with hindustantimes.com, Dr Dishan Kamdar further elaborated on the purpose of the summit, significance of liberal education, role universities can play in shaping career of their students and much more. Here is what he said:
FLAME University hosted the Purpose Summit on January 23-24. What did you intend to achieve through this Summit?
The FLAME University Purpose Summit 2021 had been created with the objective of enabling conversations and exchange of views about ’Purpose’, the driving force that shapes the actions of individuals, institutions, nations, and the world at large. This has become more relevant than ever as the last year redefined the meaning of ‘Purpose’ for the entire world. We wanted to bring together prominent public figures from all walks of life such as policymakers, business heads, academicians, political leaders, journalists, social workers, artists, and entrepreneurs on a common platform to enable the larger community to learn from the experiences and wisdom of some of the successful people of our times. As a knowledge provider, we believe it is our endeavour to help people find their purpose in life.
It resonates with the core ethos of interdisciplinary liberal education at FLAME University that focuses on helping students pursue their purpose.
The significance of liberal education is growing with each passing day, especially after the announcement on New Education Policy. How does Liberal Education help a student in finding his/her purpose, which is so important for choosing a career?
Liberal education is going to be the future of education. Liberal education helps in following ways:
*A plethora of subjects to choose from and a wide variety of major-minor combinations, which allow students to explore and understand.
*Equipping students with broad-based skills to enhance their all-round development through a healthy mix of in-class and out of class learning, including sports.
*Helps them explore what interests them and at the same time putting emphasis on social responsibility, community engagement and being sensitive towards the environment.
*Instilling curiosity in them about the world, diverse cultures and traditions, which enables them to get a global perspective and local insights.
As mentioned through some of differentiating factors above, liberal education makes sure that the students get the best options to choose from, to explore, to be curious and to find their career goals.
In your opinion, what steps universities should take to help students find their path in life?
Universities need to explore the uncharted path and innovative methods when it comes to pedagogy, and playing the role of facilitators in a student's journey of finding their goals and preparing them for their future. Student learning has to go beyond the classroom sessions and include extracurricular activities that will provide a holistic learning and 360-degree development.
In the undergraduate program, ‘mentorship’ plays a very crucial role in the growth of a student. Faculty mentors, peers and alumni mentors have a ‘purposeful’ role to play in counselling and guiding students to choose their growth path. This aspect is a life-changing experience for students. Universities must invest in creating a strong pool of mentors and a mentorship network at their institutions.
With the New Education Policy 2020 coming into effect, I am hopeful of seeing a changed outlook towards educating our young students. With the multi-disciplinary system becoming mandatory for all, students are presented with diverse options to explore and make their choices. This allows them the opportunity to be curious about the world around them and to find what they're looking for. The future will belong to those who can view it from an alternative lens; and as education providers our role is to facilitate their curiosity and give them the breadth and depth of knowledge in their preferred choice of careers and skill them for life.
What initiatives have you taken to help students overcome learning issues during the pandemic?
At FLAME we were well-prepared even before the pandemic hit the country in full swing. A Digital Task Force was put in place to ensure that learning did not suffer, the faculty was upskilled in various technological platforms to deliver lectures, and so on. We were able to move to digital platforms rather swiftly to make sure that learning was seamless and new students joining were on boarded effortlessly.
There is a lot of buzz around acquiring new skills today. What is your take on it?
The world is changing at an unimaginable pace. Technology is one of the most important drivers of this change. With innovation and advancement happening constantly, skilling ourselves has become imperative. Given how the world is changing, students need to be prepared for the uncertain future, a thought that became a reality with the pandemic. The pandemic has showcased the importance of liberal education which prepares students not only for the short-term but also for the long-term.
The future is going to be very different and is going to be in favour of those who have a multitude of skills to solve the multi-faceted, dynamic problems that the world is going to throw at them. Digital literacy skills such as data analytics, AI, AR, VR, machine learning, etc. are top on the list. The World Economic Forum Survey talks about the importance of critical thinking, problem-solving, resilience, flexibility as required skills in the next few years.
I would recommend developing high levels of Emotional Quotient (EQ) which will help you to have empathy and understanding of people in your professional and personal life. I believe that it is important that we are skilled to handle both these aspects of our life, which are equally important.
What will be your advice to those studying in universities today?
Firstly, make the most of your undergraduate life. It is going to be one of the most memorable phases in your life. Academics are an important aspect of why you have joined a university, so do not compromise on academic rigour. Your study at the university is going to be a foundation for your future life learning. At the same time, get involved in as many extracurricular activities as you can – those that interest you, allow you to hone your skills and enhance our learning, appreciate fine and performing arts, etc. Go out and make friends, invest time and effort into building a network. This is extremely important as this will be your support later on in life when you can help each other.
Be ready to be a student for life, be curious, open-minded, learn to work in groups, respect and be tolerant of diverse views as life is all about celebrating our diversity.
Focus on learning and not just on placements, there’s a difference between getting ‘job ready’ and getting ‘future-ready’. Develop a long-term perspective of what will be your career and keep your options open, this will allow you to explore and find what interests you.