Foundation Course: (FC-0201)Indian Civilizations
Faculty: Prof. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Ashoka University
Course Description: The course will contrast the philosophical and the political thought with the priest-ordained commandments in India, examining the non-religious imaginations of Sarmad and the Sufis as also the Asokan Edicts, Buddhist-Brahmana contestations, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Sangam age secular instructions in Tamil. It will also compare the Yatric India with the India of Visitors through the ages, studying the journeys of ancient travelers such as Fahein to the current Dalai Lama. A study of imprisonings from early times including that of a serving emperor jailed- Shah Jehan, to our own Tihar times would reflect the way we are evolving or not evolving as a people that believe in the rule of law and civilitas.
Foundation Course:(FC-0102) Foundations in Environmental Studies
Faculty: Mitul Baruah, Ashoka University
Course Description: David Harvey famously said: “All ecological projects (and arguments) are simultaneously political-economic projects (and arguments) and vice versa.” This course introduces students to the historical, social, and political processes that shape the interactions between humans and the natural environment across multiple scales. The course will focus on some concepts and perspectives that are central to the understanding of nature-society relations. These include the Anthropocene, population and scarcity, production of nature, sustainability, neoliberal nature, political ecology, environmental ethics, and environmental justice. It will then move to discussing various important issues concerning three fundamental resource sectors that we engage with every day of our lives: food, water and energy. The final section of the course focuses on climate change, with a special emphasis on the politics of climate change.
Cr. Writing:(CW-1001) Introduction to Creative Writing (100 level course)
Faculty: Arunava Sinha, Ashoka University
Course Description: In this course, students will experiment with two creative genres—poetry and prose—as a means of developing different imaginative approaches to experience. The emphasis will be on generating substantial amounts of raw material, and advancing a body of this toward completion. Each craft lecture will be tied to a set of readings that will be discussed in class. At the end of the course, students will learn how to look at literature from the point of view of a practitioner and apply writing techniques to a variety of rhetorical situations. Anyone who wants to earn this minor or take creative writing courses, must successfully complete this course. There is no prerequisite for this course.
English: (ENG-215)Trauma and Event: The Afterlife of Disaster (200 level course)
Faculty: Sharif Youssef, Ashoka University
Course Description: Public disasters provide a font of rich material for the study of trauma and its relation to large-scale events that have local, national, and global ramifications long after their occurrence. The triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident that occurred in Fukushima, Japan on March 11, 2011, the terrorist attack on the New York City World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, or the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa followed by the public recitation of traumatic events before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, show how the “eventfulness” of disaster is prolonged through the continuous political, legal and affective working-through of its ramifications on multiple scales at once. Mass media, literature, popular culture representation and political action taking place in and around “the event” will provide the materials that theories of trauma and eventfulness will be applied to, asking students not only to think about how theory can be applied responsibly to such events but also how the theories themselves may be tested and modified. We will also examine the impediments to eventfulness, such as the genres that tame and normalize the experience of ongoing trauma.
English: Ancient American Literature: Indigenous Epics (200 level course)
Faculty: Sharif Youssef, Ashoka University
Course Description: In this course, we will explore the creation myths of “Turtle Island,” of North America, including the Quiché Maya Popol Vuh (Council Book), the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Great Law of Peace, the Wabanaki creation cycle, and the Diné (Navajo) Bahaneʼ . These oral tales were transcribed into written epic form by scribes and Native authors in the 19th and 20th centuries, and they serve today as histories and living constitutional documents that record the relationship between indigenous people, their land, and one another. This course will help us to think about the phenomenon of looking to stories for alternate sources of law and tradition with special attention to the use of tales of the cannibalistic, man-eating weticho (Wendigo) to think through responses to incidents of alcohol and child abuse.
English: (ENG-320/ES-306) Seminar in Ecocriticism: Conquests of Nature(300 level course)
Faculty: Alexander Phillips, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course investigates the politics and aesthetics of environmental degradation. We will understand the rhetoric of a “conquest of nature” as one that was historically used to explain and justify the human subjugation of the more-than-human world. But we will also consider nature as something that can “conquer” too, that is, that can overcome efforts at human control. We will consider questions such as, what does it mean to say an environment is “degraded?” Where does art stand relative to global environmental stress? What are the intersections of environmental degradation and other global social problems? Drawing on a variety of media and genres, we will ask about the aesthetic, philosophical, political, and scientific problems raised when nature becomes the object of human domination.
Critical Thinking Seminar:(CT 1051) From the Fairy Tale to the Uncanny(100 level course)
Faculty: Alexander Phillips, Ashoka University
Course Description: Fairy tales have had a remarkable career, having been told and re-told, invented and re-invented by peasants, aristocrats, literary authors, and film studios. How have they been appropriated and re-appropriated in oral traditions, print culture, and on the screen, and what has happened to the genre along the way? In this course we will read and write about fairy tales from a variety of historical and cultural contexts. In so doing, we will practice key elements of writing in academic and non-academic contexts: developing and supporting a point, dialoguing with others, structuring a piece of written work, etc. We will further consider how the fairy tale and its conventions of magic, the supernatural, and the fantastic are appropriated into realist and so-called high literature, giving rise to a new aesthetic category: the uncanny.
Economics:(ECO-3660) Economics of Gender (300 level course)
Faculty: Bipasha Maity, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course aims at undertaking an economic analysis of the issues aﬀecting women in the economy while also drawing inspiration from the ﬁelds of evolutionary biology, feminism and psychology. The discrimination faced by women in market scenarios, such as those of labour and credit as well as the impact of globalization on women will be studied. Further, the course will explore issues that women face in non-market situations such as bargaining within the household, marriage and fertility and how market and non-market scenarios interact to inﬂuence women’s well-being. Lastly the roles of education, healthcare, property rights, birth control, political franchise and representation in mitigating gender-based inequalities will be studied. Students would be able to understand and appreciate both market and non-market factors that result in or promote gender based inequalities. They would also be able to critically understand why some policies succeed while others may fail to mitigate gender-based inequalities.
Pre-requisites: Microeconomics and Econometrics at the undergraduate level are prerequisites for this course.
Entrepreneurship:(ENT-1004) Creativity and Design Thinking (100 level course)
Faculty: Priyank Narayan, Ashoka University
Course Description: It is often said that “Today, thinking is more important than knowing”. Opportunities are what we all look for and their counterparts—the problems—are what we should solve in daily lives. Dynamic environment of twenty first century requires more creative skills from citizens than just analytical skills to manage in the ever-changing work environment.
The course is designed to provide an understanding of problem solving with a touch of creative focus in a systemic framework. The students will be introduced to concepts of creative thinking like convergent and divergent thinking, lateral thinking and 6 thinking hats.
Structured techniques such design thinking will also be practiced. Students will be expected to work on live projects to come up with creative solutions to problems that they see around them. Concepts around creativity such as the 'Medici Effect' will also be discussed in class through book readings.
Political Science:(POL 1005) Introduction to Comparative Politics(100 level course)
Faculty: Bann Seng TAN, Ashoka University
Course Description: Comparative Politics is the study of political phenomena occurring predominantly within countries. The comparative method is a way of examining such phenomena. The thematic question for the course is: How does regime type affect policy outcomes? As a first cut, we will explore the selectorate theory. We will use its logic to understand how policy outcomes that emerge might differ between democratic and autocratic settings. Next, we will explore the economic and cultural determinants of democracy and study how transitions to democracy can occur. In third part of the course, we will emphasize the institutional variations within democracies and identify its consequences. For the last part the course, we will re-examine the policy consequences of regime type. Is it merely a dichotomy; namely that “democracy is good” and while “autocracy is bad”?
Political Science:(POL-314) Indian Democracy in Motion (300 level course)
Faculty: Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Ashoka University
(Joint Course with Princeton University. Open to Ashoka students by application only)
Course Description: Many political scientists have described India as an “unlikely democracy.” As Tocqueville argued, democracy, in principle transforms all the other social forms it touches, from religion to intermediate associations. This course will examine the ways in which the workings of Indian democracy have shaped and transformed the meaning of five institutional formations: constitutionalism, religion, the economy, caste, and the city. The aim is not to provide a conventional or comprehensive overview of Indian democracy. It is rather to provide snapshots into the ways in which the Indian democratic experience is unsettling identities, unleashing new forms of mobilization and in the process transforming the meaning of citizenship as Indians experience it.
Political Science: Studying Indian Public Institutions through Data
Faculty: Gilles Verniers, Ashoka University
Course Description: The empirical study of Indian public institutions is yet to emerge as a major field of enquiry. The growing availability of public data on the functioning of major public institutions open new avenues to conduct research on them. In this course, we will review the state of public data available for four major institutions: the Parliament, the Courts, the Election Commission of India and district-level bureaucracy. The aim of the court is to bring students to think practically about questions of autonomy, transparency and accountability of public institutions. The course will be divided between class work and laboratory work. During class periods, we will review existing research on those institutions, with a focus on their research design. During the lab periods, students will learn techniques of data retrieval, data handling, data analysis. Students will conduct a review of publicly available data and learn how to deal with the shortfalls and inconsistencies found in the data. The course will also have a fieldwork component, consisting in retrieving physical data from various public institutions (archival research and profiling of public actors) and in conducting interviews with the functionaries in charge of producing public data. Students should already know the basics about the role, functions and history of those institutions. This is not an introductory course.
Psychology:(PSY-3005) Intergroup Relations(300 level course)
Faculty: Sramana Majumdar, Ashoka University
Course Description: Why do individuals identify with different groups and what motivates them to behave in extreme ways to uphold group goals? How are group differences in status and opportunity maintained and justified through generations? This course will answer these and similar questions by engaging with the various ways that groups interact and behave. We will examine how the individual relates to their social identity and how that identity shapes individual actions. The course will cover foundational and contemporary social-psychological theories on prejudice, stereotyping, social identity, intergroup bias, intergroup conflict and emotions as well as ways to reduce bias and conflict. Through active discussion and reflection with students the course will look at how intergroup relations is being reshaped in a digital world and the significance of social identity in light of recent global events and movements.
Pre-requisites: Social psychology & Statistics and Research Methods
Sociology: Tibetans in India
Faculty: Swargajyoti Gohain, Ashoka University & Dr Swati Chawla, Jindal University(200level)
Course Description: When you hear “Tibet,” what’s the first image that comes to your mind? Probably the Dalai Lama, and monks and nuns in red robes. The most famous refugee in the world, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India for over 60 years. But he is not the first Dalai Lama to do so. Were the reasons bringing his predecessor into exile in India the same as the ones that brought him?
Have you ever wandered in Dharamshala or Delhi’s Majnu ka Tila and wondered why the Tibetans came to India in 1959? What allowed them to make a home here? Did they keep alive a hope of return? Are there lessons they can teach us about strategies of adaptation in diasporic populations across the world? Are there lessons about co-existence? About harmony? About hope?
In this course, we look at the Tibetans in India as a case study through which to comprehend postcolonial predicaments. We will first understand the Tibetan question through the “Great Game” and imperialism in the nineteenth century, and follow its evolution through the coming up of new sovereign nation-states in Asia. We will show how their case throws up important insights into the political and cultural lives of refugees, diaspora and exile populations. How they may hold the key to some of the fundamental questions of the twentieth century?
We grapple with three big questions:
- How does the Tibetan condition of exile help us critically understand nationalism and state-making in the twentieth century?
- How can we learn more about the relation between monastic Buddhism and secular democracy from the experience of the Tibetan monks?
- How do different generations of Tibetans complicate boundaries between citizens and refugees?
In addition to scholarly readings, the course will introduce you to exile literature and cinema, as well as oral histories of Tibetan refugees. It will include a fieldtrip to Majnu ka Tila, and guest lectures with prominent Tibetan officials, activists, monastic men and women, and students from Delhi-NCR.
Visual Arts:(VA-105) Why does Art Matter? The Efficacy of the Visual Image(100 level course)
Faculty: Sraman Mukherjee, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course explores the diverse and myriad impact of works of art and the visual image more broadly on the viewing public. Drawing on a select body of objects and images across different temporal and spatial frames and from various sites of visual encounters – museums, art galleries, exhibitions, commemorative monuments, theme parks, streets and other public spaces, to a range of material media of visual images – paintings, prints, posters, maps, tourist brochures, photographs circulating in the print media, sculptures, and public statues, the course addresses the centrality of visual images in the making and unmaking of public spheres. Class discussions will be supplemented by visits to local galleries, museums, theme parks, and temples.
Visual Arts:(VA-3006/HIS-4007) Histories of South Asian Art: From the earliest times to the present (200-300level)
Faculty: Sraman Mukherjee, Ashoka University
Course Description: What is Art and who is it meant for? What is specifically South Asian about South Asian Art? What does it mean to think of South Asia and Art as analytical categories? Did South Asian Art always exist or were historical processes involved in the making of the field? What are the objects of South Asian Art? Where do we locate the “genesis” of art in South Asia? Did art forms in South Asia emerge in a zone of cultural and social isolation? Or can we trace trajectories of trans-regional contacts, encounters, and exchanges as central to the shaping of the field of South Asian Art? What is space of tradition and innovation in the visual arts of South Asia? Did arts of South Asia “influence” artistic practices in other regions? How did artists at different points in history think about the region we identify as South Asia?
Seeking to address some of these questions, this course examines aspects of the visual arts of South Asia from its earliest traces in cave paintings and stone implements to sculpture, painting, illustrated manuscripts, calligraphy, and architecture. The course follows a chronological scale, from pre-history to c. 1950. The vast geographical as well as the temporal span of the field will restrict the course from delivering an encyclopedic survey. Instead it will prioritize intensive analysis of selected themes. Rather than placing the teleology of South Asian “art” solely in the context of changing dynastic histories, the course takes up specific themes in art across a range of objects, artefacts, archaeological sites, built spaces, religious and political symbols, and institutions of art pedagogy and exhibitions. In the process we address the questions of image, icon, and representations of body, landscape, portraiture in the context of social and ideological changes, aesthetic turns, shifting patrons and markets, and introduction of new material media. The course will probe both ‘South Asia’ and ‘South Asian Art’ as stable (art) historical categories and map the new methodologies and vocabularies employed by art historians.
Class lectures and discussions will be supplemented by visits to museum and art gallery which will enable us to study the original works of art and explore the visual dynamics of organization of exhibition spaces. There are 3 museum and gallery visits planned for the entire course –to the National Museum, to the National Handlooms and Handicraft Museum, and to the National Gallery of Modern Art.
IR: Ethics and International Relations: Unpacking the Normative Dilemmas in Politicsmes to the present (200 level)
Faculty: Ananya Sharma, Ashoka University
Course Description: International Politics by its very nature is fraught with ethical issues. Actions in the global context (immigration, economic policy, human rights legislation, and (non)democratic institutions) have a pervasive impact on the lives of individuals and this impact often differs based on how one is situated in the world. This course is designed to explore, analyse and evaluate some of the central issues, values and debates in the contemporary world that have a bearing on normative political inquiry. What relevance do ethical considerations have in international conduct? Is ethical action possible, given the realities of national interests and power politics? Is it utopian to think about ethical factors playing a role in international affairs? And how, in ethical terms, can international acts be evaluated? Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives and thematic issues in the fields of international politics, the course will challenge students to reflect on major ethical theories and traditions as well as core problems in the current times. The course will engage with the dilemmas encountered in world affairs including: the moral economy of violence, the politics of exclusion, debates on human rights, global justice and cosmopolitanism, ecological responsibility and concerns regarding economic inequalities and unequal development.