Ashoka University requires each student to take 9 Foundation Courses. These consist of 2 Critical Thinking Seminars and 7 other Foundation Courses, out of which Quantitative Reasoning and Environmental Studies are compulsory.
These courses are not formal gateways into the Major programmes. However, it is advisable for students to take as many of these courses as they can before declaring a Major. There is no specific order in which students have to take the Foundation Courses. Apart from the Introduction to Critical Thinking (Semester 1) and the second Critical Thinking Seminar (Semesters 2 ), they can take the other 7 Foundation Courses whenever they want.
The books in the Great Books course will come from different cultures, different time periods, different languages, and different subjects. But they all have something significant to offer us as we think about the world today. The curriculum and themes will vary between sections, but readings will include influential books such as the Kama Sutra, the Mahabharata, Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and Darwin’s The Origin of Species, among others.
This course seeks to introduce students to the plurality of ideas that is at the heart of Indian Civilization. India is like a civilizational sponge that has absorbed various influences. The course will emphasize the mosaic character of Indian tradition through examples from history and from the writings of some eminent thinkers. In the process, the course will draw out aspects of dialogue, dissent, syncretism and tolerance.
This course aims to give students an experience of contemporary Mathematics. One can see that Mathematics is driven by ideas, not by calculations, it is both beautiful and powerful, and it combines precision with the greatest creativity. En route, one develops a set of broadly useful problem-solving skills, gains experience in precise thinking and writing, and encounters some of History’s landmark ideas.
Literature and the World
This course poses questions about how literature has diversely imagined the world, and how the world has diversely imagined literature. What does it mean to tell a story about a specific place? How does one’s own place affect the stories one tells? How are we all story-tellers? And how is the act of reading always itself an act of story-telling (or re-telling)?
Mind and Behaviour
What kind of creature are you? A human being, no doubt. But what kind of creature is that? How ought such a creature live? We will critically explore influential models of human nature in the Indic and Western philosophical traditions and their implications both for how we ought to live and our place in the social world. We will also survey key psychological results that directly have a bearing on those philosophical models.
Principles of Science
This course equips students to function productively in a world that is increasingly driven by science and technology. Rather than looking at any particular scientific discipline, the course focuses on understanding the nature of scientific inquiry and the relevance of science and scientific thinking in our lives. By studying the history of the development of our current understanding of the world, this course aims at gaining an appreciation for the importance and wonder of the scientific worldview.
Social and Political Formations
The course introduces students to two of the most important concepts that frame the study of social sciences: the political and the social. What does it mean to be political? What is the difference between thinking politically and doing politics? What do we mean by social and political formations? How and why do these formations emerge? Are they similar and static across time and space? If not, then what explains their variation? What are some of the ways in which these issues have been studied? Importantly, how do we begin to understand these diverse and dense set of ideas?