How Liberal Studies is helping young people discover their potential

Liberal Studies programs promote critical thinking and allow students to explore their talents so they can make informed decisions about what they want to pursue in life. What are the unique offerings of Liberal Studies in India?

Who do you aspire to become? What do you want in life? These are tough questions to be answered by 18-year-olds, don’t you think? Especially when they are only equipped with the limited range of knowledge provided by the rigid curricula of school days. How can an individual know the true potential of their talents if these aren’t properly explored? This is where Liberal Studies comes into play. Not limited to the confines of just providing technical expertise, Liberal Studies programs offered by universities in India prepare students for a plethora of career options that range from science and commerce to arts and humanities. Students can put themselves in different shoes to analyse which domain best harnesses their talents so they can reap the highest rewards.

What is the underlying purpose of Liberal Studies?

One of the major objectives of Liberal Studies in India is to train capable individuals who can analyse the loopholes that make India’s growth lag, so that they might bring forth innovative solutions to overcome these. This can be achieved if students are taught ‘how to think’ and how to ‘analyse a situation’ in a time of crisis. The curricula in these institutions are designed to promote critical thinking and problem-solving, and at the same time, to hone the soft skills that will help students become valuable contributors to society.

Along with these, Liberal Studies provide insights into the foundations of culture through subjects like sociology, psychology, philosophy, language and history. The Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts offers an interesting ensemble of core subjects like History of Man, Multicultural Studies, Rhetoric and Critical Writing, and History of Ideas, all of which encourage students to question the intricacies of society and learn how they were established.

Altogether, the goal of Liberal Studies is to encourage students to pursue their unique talents and make the most out of these. Institutions like Ashoka University, Flame University, Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts, PDPU School of Liberal Studies, and many more have stepped up to diversify education by providing platforms for offbeat professions in music, dance, theatre, film production and fine arts.

What are the unique offerings of Liberal Studies in India?

Even though the idea of Liberal Studies in India has been adapted from the western education system, universities here have often shaped their curricula so that students can understand the intricacies of Indian society and its history. For instance, courses in Philosophy at Ashoka Universityteach about the Ancient Vedas and Indian philosophy of Religion, as well as about the teachings of Plato and Aristotle.

As students across the country are increasingly opting for Liberal Studies, universities have been motivated to introduce niche and specialised courses that can cater to a wider audience. Specializations in International Relations by universities like PDPU, Flame and Symbiosis, train future diplomats in strategic planning and policy-making skills. Ashoka University offers a wide range of interesting combinations of interdisciplinary majors like Politics & Society and History & International Relations that explore topics of national interest.

As an alumnus of PDPU’s School of Liberal Studies, I’ve observed there to be a considerable increase in the influx of students in the past few years. I enrolled in 2015 alongside 280 students in my batch who were divided among B.A. /B.B.A. (Hons) and B.Com (Hons) courses. Four years later, the total intake of students increased to about 600, along with B.Sc. (Hons) being introduced as an additional faction.

It is safe to say that, with liberal studies being a relatively new pedagogy in India, its true potential will be realized once the graduates of its curriculum step into the world and exhibit their true potential. By honing students’ abilities to think critically and have a holistic knowledge of society, Liberal Studies is helping students find new possibilities in their domains.

Cover image credit: TheHansIndia

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