Friday evening(3rd March 2017) presented Ahmedabadis with a fantastic opportunity to meet and interact with Dr Geetha Narayanan and Ishita Shah of Srishti Institute, Bangalore – to learn about the Institutes’ ethos and the work accomplished there by the UNESCO Chair. They talked about important ideas like changes in education and knowledge-sharing, heritage and engagement with communities.
Under the broader umbrella of ‘Artmaking’, Dr Geetha Narayanan places the act of designing. In such a time of ecological and environmental crises – as well as social unrest and global turbulence – she highlights the value of such Artmaking. When one is designing, one should build for the future, not just for today.
Organised by the Ahmedabad Regional Chapter of the Institute of Indian Interior Designers, as part of the monthly lecture series at Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), the event ‘Competency Ahead of the Curve’ had talks by Dr Geetha Narayanan and Ishita Shah. It presented a good opportunity to learn about the work the Srishti Institute, Bangalore, is doing overall, especially in the Heritage sector.
Speaking about the fast changing world and the role education has to play in it, Dr Narayanan – a Founder Director of the Institute and visiting faculty at the Future of Learning Institute at Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA – emphasised on ideas of progress, poverty and equity. Sharing some of the projects that the Srishti Institute has worked towards, she talked about ‘Art in Transit’ where they have intervened with art in some of the Bangalore Metro stations to make people stop, pause and think. The Science Gallery in Bangalore, which emphasises critical making involving science; and outdoor installations at the India Art Fair, New Delhi, which had people working on DNA within Geodesic domes, are other inspiring examples.
It was a treat to listen to such an eminent educator talk about approaches towards education. In this talk titled ‘Consciousness by Confluence’, she saw the UNESCO Chair as a confluence of multiple ideas – that are not just about policy and education, but also about livelihoods and a better quality of life – about the self and the mind. There was much to understand and learn from Dr Narayanan’s talk and it was extremely enlightening to see how people are reacting to the fast paced changes around us and coming up with innovative ideas.
This was followed by a talk by Ishita Shah, an Alumnus of CEPT University who was involved in the setting up of CEPT Archives before she moved to Srishti. The Chair – which is for Culture, Habitat and Sustainable Development – envisions deepening the relevance of cultural landscapes, natural environments and their relationships with human habitation. Multiple projects undertaken in places like Bidar and Hoysala in Karnataka have looked at getting communities closely involved, creating a sense of partnership and ownership within them. In Bidar there is a focus on reimagining narratives of heritage. They are also looking at place-based learning – with Bidar serving as a living Lab – and at lesser known cultural aspects of the place, like water systems, language, culinary skills and the walls of Bidar.
In Hoysala, their approach is about creative sustenance through conservation, with them looking at traditional practices like game-making. By identifying interconnectedness, conceiving of inclusive strategies and strengthening relations between tangible and intangible practices and habitats, their aim is to engage in creative conservation, by involving students from different disciplines.
We were very pleased to learn about the innovative work that the Institute is carrying out and hope that they continue in this vein. We also hope that Ahmedabad – being a city which gives so much emphasis to education, institution-building and design – gets more such opportunities to learn from the pioneering work happening around the world.
Photograph Credit : Devdatt Pandya, Anshika Jain
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