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Summer Semester 2022 - Courses

Foundation Course: Indian Civilizations (Online)
Course Code: FC-0201
Faculty: Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Professor, 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 imprisoning 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.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Students will be required to write one assignment paper, due at the end of the term, for which students will be given an adequate number of prompts from the subjects discussed in class.

Foundation Course: Literature and the World – Odysseys (Online)
Course Code: FC-0701
Faculty: Johannes Burgers, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: Homer’s Odyssey is one of the central texts of the western canon, and has been a continuous touchstone for literary creation since its earliest telling. With each retelling, authors have used the adventures of Odysseus to reflect on Homer’s time as well as their own. In this course, you will study the Odyssey and the long history of its influence on other works. Like the travels of Odysseus, you will sail to the horizons of the known world, and encounter many different cultures along the way. After Ithaca, your ship will launch from the Baghdad caliphate as you explore the medieval world of Sinbad the Sailor, from there you will travel into the depths of Dante’s Inferno, and sit next to the seat of empire in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Victorian England, go on to grab a pint in a pub in James Joyce’s modernist Dublin, walk with Primo Levi through the unimaginable darkness of the Auschwitz death camp, journey across Derek Walcott’s Caribbean isle of St. Lucia, and relive the Odyssey through Margaret Atwood’s feminist retelling of Penelope’s life.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Discussion Section 30%
Participation 15%
Close Reading Papers:
Short paper: 5% Paper 1: 20% Paper 2: 30%

Foundation Course: Mind and Behavior (In-person)
Course Code: FC-0503
Faculty: Arindam Chakrabarti, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: Faces, Feelings and Consciousness: What is an emotion? What, if any, are the distinctions between passions, feelings, emotions, and affects? How do we know others’ feelings? Focusing on eight basic emotions/feelings: anger, disgust, fear, wonder, envy, sadness, joy and boredom, this course will explore the following three questions about emotions, their bodily expressions and their relationship to consciousness. First: are emotions primarily a matter of the body, the brain and the nervous system or are they primarily a matter of “first person subjective consciousness”? Second: how do we learn, fallibly but reliably, to detect (directly perceive? Indirectly infer?) others’ feelings from their arguably universal facial expressions? Third: how central are affects and feeling to consciousness and our sense of self?
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Running evaluations of three short 300 words RRRP (reading reports in response to a prompt)s (20×3=60%) starting from the second week and one final project report of 600 words (30%) and discussion section participation (10%).
Equal emphasis on intensive reading /comprehension and careful analytical writing based on self-edited multiple drafts. (Texts: Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious by Antonio Damasio (2021) and The Subtlety of Emotions by Aaron Ben-Ze’ev (2001)

Foundation Course: Principles of Science (In-person)
Course Code: FC-0801
Faculty: Raja Rosenhagen, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: “That the scientific revolution has drastically changed our view of the world—both as a whole and of its sentient and non-sentient denizens—that it has led to a massive expansion of our intellectual horizon and of our abilities to interact with and manipulate our environment is indisputable. But what is this thing called science? How do we demarcate it? What, if any, are the principles that must guide an activity such that it merits the honorific ‘scientific’—and when is something mere pseudoscience?
Perhaps we can find out by way of looking at what actual scientists do: scientists make careful observations, try to explain and systematize phenomena, make (sometimes risky) predictions, and devise and test scientific hypotheses and theories. If we want to know what science is, we may thus focus our inquiry on these kinds of activities and raise questions that are geared at finding out more about what is characteristic of them. Here are a few examples:
– What is the role of observation in science? Must all science be grounded in observation?
– What is a scientific explanation? Must good scientific explanations be true?
– If scientists make predictions, how do they arrive at them and what role do unobservable entities play in this endeavour?
– Have scientists shown that unobservable entities really exist?
– What are scientific theories, how are they generated, and what does scientific progress look like?
– How does one distinguish science from pseudoscience?
– Does science require the concept of causation?
– What importance, if any, accrues to scientific speculation?
– Are there laws of nature? What are they and can we find them by inductively generalizing from observations?
– How are scientific theories tested? Can one confirm scientific theories? How?
– Are all sciences fundamentally based on laws or is that just true of physics? Should we expect that in the end, every scientific theory reduces to physics?
– At the basis of physics are certain conceptions of time and space. Do they capture what matters to us qua human beings? If not, do humans fit into the scientific world view?
In this course, we will investigate a selection of these questions.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Reading Quizzes: 20%;
Creative Project: 12.5%;
Weekly Reflection Pieces: 30%;
Peer Review: 7.5%;
Online Discussion (if online): 20%;
DS Participation: 10%

Biology: Python for Research in Life Sciences (In-person)
Course code: BIO3636
Faculty: Sudipta Tung, Faculty Fellow, Ashoka University
Course Description: This is an introductory course to Python for the researchers to use this versatile programming language for aiding their research in Life sciences. This course does not assume any prior knowledge in programming, starts with the basic coding lessons, and builds up upon them.
The course will nudge you to think intuitively in terms writing an algorithm. This skill, once mastered, is transferable to any programming language in future. In addition, after first reviewing the basics of Python 3, we shall learn how to use Python scripts to import, organize, analyze and visualize experimental data, and run own simulations to generate new in silico research data.
Using a combination of a lectures, and guided hands-on sessions, students will be exposed to a variety of different Python features across various topics in Life sciences. We shall explore examples and case studies with data, inter alia, behavioural experiments, flow cytometry, DNA sequencing, epidemiology and biostatistics. Students will also be introduced to the rapidly developing field of image processing and machine learning. Students will get a chance to hone their new Python skills by solving take-home assignments on their own. More details can be found on this webpage: https://sites.google.com/ashoka.edu.in/summercourse-python/home
Pre-requisites: None. This course assumes no prior knowledge of computer programming. An open mind and interest to learn the principles of coding will suffice. However, a basic knowledge of Biology and an introduction to computer programming a priori will facilitate you to navigate this course.
Grading Policy: 50% Assignments + 50% Exams

Creative Writing: Reading to Write (In-person)
Course code: CW-1002
Faculty: Arunava Sinha, Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: The course will offer an intensive experience in reading fiction, non-fiction, poetry and translations as preparation for writing, and in thinking and identifying the creatively successful elements of each.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: 20% Class participation (including attendance), 60% Four pieces of 500 words each on selected works from the reading list, 20% Making a presentation on a chosen book-length text.

Economics: Machine Learning for Economics (Online)
Course Code: ECO-3404
Faculty: Amit Goyal, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description:This course will cover the following topics:
1. Introduction to Python Programming: Variables, Lists, Tuples, Dictionaries, Functions, Numpy arrays, plotting with matplotlib, importing data with pandas
2. Review of Linear Algebra, Calculus and Optimization: Using Python libraries such as numpy, sympy, matplotlib, and scipy, we’ll see how to understand and solve constrained and unconstrained optimization problems involving many variables.
3. Review of Probability and Statistics: Using Python, we’ll visualise various distributions, and central limit theorem, solve some interesting problems through simulations, perform hypothesis tests and maximum likelihood estimation tasks.
4. Machine Learning:Supervised Learning Models: Linear Regression, Ridge and Lasso Regression, Logistic Regression, Neural Networks Naïve Bayes Classifiers and Support Vector Machines.
5. Unsupervised Learning Models: Clustering
Pre-requisites: Mathematics for Economics and Statistics for Economics. However, no programming background is required to take this course.
Grading Policy: Homework (50%), Final (50%)

Environmental Studies: Understanding Coupled Human–Nature Systems (Field Course, only open to Ashoka UG students)
Course code: ES-3304
Faculty: Divya Vasudev, Visiting faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description:This course will take students to different sites in Northeast India that exemplify coupled human–nature systems, and complex relationships that different communities share with nature. We will explore how we can work towards achieving dual goals of nature conservation and securing people’s wellbeing. We will see first-hand how people interact with nature, and specifically with certain wild animals such as elephants which may come into conflict with humans.
This course is founded on experiential learning, critical thinking, building empathy and problem-solving. The course will be taught as a combination of lectures, discussions and field trips. During field trips you will make systematic observations, which will feed into discussions and final projects.
Some of the topics covered in class will include:
1. Conservation approaches: Protected Areas, Corridors, Community-based Conservation
2. Human–Wildlife and Human–Nature Interactions: Intrinsic and Utilitarian perspectives; human–elephant interactions; forest dependency; culture and forest conservation
3. Ecosystem services
4. Stakeholder interactions and engagement for conservation
5. Landscape-scale perspectives to conservation
Field Site: Northeast India (Assam & Meghalaya)
Course duration: 3 weeks approx.
Pre-requisites: No prerequisites. Students must be prepared for field work involving physical activity and long hours, and basic living conditions.
Grading Policy: Discussions: 20%; Group projects: 30%; Final essay project: 50%

International Relations: Introduction to Mandarin I (In-person) (Only open to Ashoka UG students)
Course code: IR-1900
Faculty: Jhe-Chin Shao, Visiting faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: Introduction to Mandarin is a beginner’s language course, specifically designed for students with no exposure to Modern Standard Chinese (putonghua 普通話). The course will introduce students to the Chinese language and culture and focus on basic speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. This includes an introduction to phonetics, basic vocabulary, and expressions of daily use. The course will prepare the students to attain a certain level of understanding and proficiency in Chinese language through interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational modes. It will integrate Chinese culture into language learning through both written and audio-visual means to familiarize students with the culture and language. At the end of the class, students will be able to read and comprehend Chinese texts on various topics moderately without the aid of pinyin and tone marks. They will be able to give presentations in Chinese on a prepared topic and write short paragraphs and compositions on a limited range of topics and situations.
To take Introduction to Mandarin, students must enrol in both IR-1900 and IR-1901 for the summer semester, for a total of 8 credits. Across the two classes, students will be required to attend 3 hours of class per day, five days per week. Each week there will be two additional class hours for quizzes, tests, etc. On successful completion of the combined class, students will reach the level of HSK2 (and its equivalent, TOCFL Novice), and be ready to join Mandarin 3 in the Monsoon semester.
Pre-requisites: Must be taken concurrently with IR 1901.
Grading Policy: Homework, regular short quizzes, midterm/final exam.

International Relations: Introduction to Mandarin II (In-person) (Only open to Ashoka UG students)
Course code: IR-1901
Faculty: Jhe-Chin Shao, Visiting faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: Introduction to Mandarin is a beginner’s language course, specifically designed for students with no exposure to Modern Standard Chinese (putonghua 普通話). The course will introduce students to the Chinese language and culture and focus on basic speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. This includes an introduction to phonetics, basic vocabulary, and expressions of daily use. The course will prepare the students to attain a certain level of understanding and proficiency in Chinese language through interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational modes. It will integrate Chinese culture into language learning through both written and audio-visual means to familiarize students with the culture and language. At the end of the class, students will be able to read and comprehend Chinese texts on various topics moderately without the aid of pinyin and tone marks. They will be able to give presentations in Chinese on a prepared topic and write short paragraphs and compositions on a limited range of topics and situations. To take Introduction to Mandarin, students must enrol in both IR-1900 and IR-1901 for the summer semester, for a total of 8 credits. Across the two classes, students will be required to attend 3 hours of class per day, five days per week. Each week there will be two additional class hours for quizzes, tests, etc. On successful completion of the combined class, students will reach the level of HSK2 (and its equivalent, TOCFL Novice), and be ready to join Mandarin 3 in the Monsoon semester.
Pre-requisites: Students must take IR 1900 concurrently.
Grading Policy: Homework, regular short quizzes, midterm/final exam.

International Relations: The Rise of Populism in International Politics (In-person)
Course code: IR-2013
Faculty: Ananya Sharma, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: Populism is one of the main political buzzwords of the early 21st century. The rise of populist forces in recent years has generated new challenges in many long-established democracies, such as the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Greece, and France, as well as destabilizing states worldwide, such as in Venezuela, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, the Philippines, Thailand, and India. What explains the rise of these forces? What are the consequences? And what can be done to mitigate the risks? The course aims at bringing together the conceptual analysis of populism with comparative case studies in different regions of the world. Given the highly contested nature of populism, the first weeks will look in depth to different theories of populism, including institutional, ideological, discursive and socio-cultural understandings of populism. It will then move to explore the conditions of emergence of populism and the relations between populism and key political concepts, such as democracy and political participation. The second half of the course will seek to apply the conceptual tools presented in the first half of the course to regional case studies. Through our explorations of a large number of empirical cases, we will draw from several disciplines besides political science (including history, sociology and cognitive psychology), methodological approaches, continents, and individual countries. The course covers:
(i) The core concept of populism and the classification of varieties of populist parties and leaders in different world regions;
(ii) Explanations focused on ‘demand-side’ cultural value change, economic grievances, and patterns of immigration, and also ‘supply-side’ electoral rules and party competition;
(iii) The consequences for the civic culture and the policy agenda; and alternative strategic policy responses.
Pre-requisites: IR 100 level course
Cross-listing: Political Science
Grading Policy: Attendance and Class Participation/ Presentations – 10%, Mid-term assignment- 30 %, End term case study-based paper- 30%, Journal Entries- 20%, Group Photo Essay – 10%

Media Studies: The Ashoka Conversation (In-person)
Course code: MS-2120-1
Faculty: Arunava Sinha, Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: The Ashoka Conversation is designed as a 2000 level course to give students a hands on learning experience in conceptualising, designing and editorial framing of a weekly digital news magazine. This is an ambitious course that seeks to put in place the structure and production of a live media resource entirely run by Ashoka students. Students who enrol for this course will ‘learn on the job’. Through the rigour of academic discipline and the commitment of journalistic integrity students will run a weekly multimedia blog project on the lines of the internationally acclaimed website “The Conversation”.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Under faculty supervision, class will be conducted on the lines of bi-weekly editorial meetings and will function as a mini-newsroom. Class participation will be at a premium when it comes to grading. Students will also rotate as editors for different issues for individual grades.

Media Studies: Media, Culture, and Society (In-person)
Course code: MS-1202-1
Faculty: Neha Dixit, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: “This course will enable students to gain an in-depth understanding of key issues, debates, and theoretical perspectives, and to critically analyze the relationship between culture, media, and society.
Through the course, students will closely examine mass media forms such as news, film, television, advertising, and the digital space and will explore how our everyday engagements with media are influenced and structured by broader economical, political, ideological, and social contexts.
Mass media shapes our understanding of the world. This course has been created to recognize the utmost need for media literacy in contemporary times. The course aims to create smart and critical consumers, creators, and participants of mass media. At the end of the course, the students will be able to identify and develop an understanding of Media theories and analyze media practices globally. They will learn to formulate well-informed opinions and critical awareness of current media practices. “
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: There will be two major assignments along with weekly tasks.


Philosophy: Philosophy of Love (In-person)
Course code: PHI-2715
Faculty: Raja Rosenhagen, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: In this course, we will look at various forms of love, such as friendship, romantic love, or familial love. As we do, we ask several questions: One of course, is of the “what is x” kind: what is love, what is (true) friendship? Another is of the “why does x matter” variety: should love and friendship be important to us? What are they good for? A third question is “what speaks in favor of x and what does x speak in favor of”: are there reasons for love or friendship? Does the question “why do you love me?” have a good answer? Are we obligated to love certain people (such as: relatives) – and if so, why? Does love itself create special obligations that we have towards our beloved; how should we specify the nature of the loving commitment?
Grading Policy: Reading Quizzes: 20%,
Creative Project: 12.5%,
Weekly Reflection Pieces: 30%,
Peer Review: 7.5%
Online Discussion: 20% (if online),
Discussion Session: 10% (if applicable)

Political Science: An Introduction to Contemporary Indian Politics (In-person, Joint course with Princeton University)
(Selection by Application, only open to Ashoka UG students)
Course code: POL-2085
Faculty: Vinay Sitapati, Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: This seminar will introduce students to the politics of India: What does it mean to be democratic in a poor country with diverse identities of language, gender, caste, class, and religion, and how has India balanced economic growth with equity? In order to familiarise students with facts and details, the first half of the course is structured as chronological history, beginning with the colonial period (1757 to 1947), before studying the eras of Jawaharlal Nehru (1947 to 64), Indira Gandhi (1965 to 1984) and the contemporary period (1985 to 2014). The second half of the course are organised around concepts: the state, democracy and parties, identity and ethnicity, regional politics, and social movements. The final sessions will focus on the Narendra Modi era (2014 to present), applying what has been learned in the course to the present day. This course will also feature weekly excursions to sites such as government offices and courts.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Grading will be on a curve

Psychology: Violence as a Human Behavior (Online)
Course Code: PSY-3045
Faculty: Simantini Ghosh, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: Violence is a widespread and complex issue that has been part of human behavior through time. In this class, we will tease violence apart in multiple axes, but usually in a data driven fashion. In the first half of the course we will break violence down to its elemental blocks using concepts from neurobiology, biochemistry, genetics, psychology, evolution and epigenetics. The second half of this course will reassemble fundamental types of violence based on religion, politics, gender and socioeconomic structures using the concepts discussed. Prospective students are encouraged to approach the material as part of a journey to understand violence. Each member of the class might arrive at a different conclusion about violence at the end of the course, but the goal of the class is to provide them with different frameworks to interpret and analyze data about violence to reach at their conclusion. This class is MOSTLY taught as an advanced seminar with a flipped classroom style. The instructor will play the role of a faculty moderator of student led discussion. Each week few research articles, reviews, book chapters or articles from the media will be discussed by students, with the entire class being an active participant in discussion. All students will be expected to participate in class discussion as come to class having done the readings for the day.
Pre-requisites: For Ashoka students: Must have taken Statistics and Research Methods II (SRM2).
For students who are not from Ashoka/Psychology Department: They need to have taken a basic statistics course that covered the following: null hypothesis, significance testing, linear regression, factorial  ANOVAs and interactions.
Grading Policy: Attendance and participation (individual) – 10%, academic integrity(individual)-10%, weekly group presentations (group +individual)-30%, group analytical essay(group +individual) -35% weekly short summative assessments -15%

Sociology and Anthropology: Tibetans in India: Exile, Citizenship, Nationalism, Buddhism (Online)
Course code: SOA-2107/ Pol 2043
Faculty: Swargajyoti Gohain, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University and Swati Chawla, Assistant Professor, OP Jindal Global University
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 and 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:
1. How does the Tibetan condition of exile help us critically understand nationalism and state-making in the twentieth century?

2. How can we learn more about the relation between religion, nationalism, and democracy from the experience of the Tibetans in India?

3. How do different generations of Tibetans complicate boundaries between citizens and refugees?
In addition to scholarly readings, the course will introduce you to literature and films on nationalism, exile, citizenship and Buddhism, and to comparative case studies. It will include a field trip to Majnu ka Tila. This is a 200 level course with an inter- disciplinary orientation and does not require prior coursework in History, Sociology, and Anthropology.
Cross-listing: Political Science (Pol 2043)
Grading Policy: Relative grading


Sociology and Anthropology: Community-based Research: Power, Ethics, and Representation (In-person, Joint course with Northeastern University)
(Selection by Application, only open to Ashoka UG students)
Course code: SOA-2212
Faculty: Dr. Liza Weinstein, Associate Professor of Sociology, Northeastern University
Course Description: This urban field research course combines classroom work, independent research experiences, and field excursions to learn the methods, epistemologies, and ethics of community-based research. The purpose of the course is to provide students training in qualitative data collection, including ethnography, qualitative interviews, oral histories, and community mapping techniques, and to reflect on the ethics of collecting information and constructing knowledge about “vulnerable” communities (and challenging our understandings/assumptions about vulnerability).
In addition to ensuring that students develop the basic skills required for conducting community-based research, students will reflect on the conditions under which research can be empowering or disempowering for communities; how to ensure participation is built on informed consent; whose stories get to be told; insider and outsider perspectives; and how community members can themselves access the “right to research.” The course will also provide students with the opportunity to apply their emerging research skills to develop research questions and collect data together with community partners.

Ashoka students will take this course together with a small group of students from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. The immersive and collaborative learning experience will allow students to build relationships across culture and context, and allow fuller considerations of positionality. During the three-week intensive course, students will spend afternoons engaging in both classroom discussions and field visits in Sonipat. Ashoka Students will also have the option to join the Northeastern students for an additional week (6 -13 August) in Mumbai, where the student group will collaborate with the “barefoot researchers” of PUKAR, an urban research collective rooted in the principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR) for an additional cost.

Cross-listing: None
Grading Policy: TBD

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