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Summer Semester 2023 - Courses

Foundation Course: Environmental Studies
Course Code: FC-0102-1
Faculty: Meghna Agarwala, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course attempts to provide a holistic understanding of the environment around us, including its biophysical and narrative elements. This class will provide students with the understanding and tools to be able to critically examine environmental problems and their policy solutions in the world today, and understand their impacts on environmental justice. The course is not a highly technical environmental course, but an introductory course.
The topics that will be covered include earth systems, climate systems, hydrological systems, biological systems, food production systems, urban systems, environmental conservation, sustainable development, political ecology, hazards studies and environmental ethics. We will progress from examining more predictable systems (e.g. Earth Systems) to more unpredictable systems (e.g. Human interactions).
Pre-requisites: NA
Grading Policy: Action Items Proportion of grade Quiz 1 12.5% Quiz 2 12.5% Participation in class and DS 15% (7.5% attendance; 7.5% participation) Assignments 35% Class project 25% TOTAL 100%

Foundation Course: Environmental Studies
Course Code: FC-0102-2
Faculty: Mitul Baruah, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course is meant to introduce students to nature-society dialectics. We will examine the historical, social, and political processes that shape societal relations with the natural environment. The course has three overarching goals. First, it will help students gain an in-depth understanding of some of the pressing environmental issues of our times, such as the agrarian crisis, climate change, disaster and vulnerability, waste, the industrial food system, struggles over water, and neoliberalization of nature, among others. Second, drawing on a variety of theoretical frameworks, including Marxist, feminist, and post-structuralist perspectives, the course will expose students to a breadth of approaches to environmental questions. Finally, through this course, I hope to be able to cultivate a sense of environmental citizenship in students. The course will be taught using a combination of lectures, discussions, films, and group projects.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Attendance and Participation: 20%; Quizzes: 20%; Essays: 40%; Group Project: 20%

Foundation Course: Great Books
Course Code: FC-0601-5
Faculty: Arunava Sinha, Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: A close-reading journey through a selection of great writing represented by parts or all of entire books with a view to identifying themes from the human condition.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: 10%: quizzes 20%: Class participation, 30%: Mid-term assignment, 40%: End-term assignment

Foundation Course: Indian Civilizations 
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: Emotions, Expressions and the Ego (Mind and Behaviour)
Course Code: FC-0503
Faculty: Arindam Chakrabarti, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: What is an emotion? What, if any, are the distinctions between passions, feelings, affects and emotions (called “bhAva”-s in Indian psychology and theater theory)? Focusing on nine basic emotions/feelings: anger, laughter, disgust, fear, wonder, envy, sadness, joy and boredom, this course will explore the following four questions about emotions, their bodily expressions and their relationship to the ego (which need not be equated with) the self. First: are emotions primarily a matter of the body, the brain, the nervous system, first person subjective consciousness, or socially constructed out of facial expressions and interpersonal interactions and moral evaluations thereof? 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 our emotions to our ego-s, could an egoless person still have some ‘good’ emotions? Fourth, can emotions be ethically evaluated as ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Alternative answers to these questions will be explored through selected readings (and short written reactions with prompts) from Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, William James, Jesse Prinz, Aaron Be’eZev, and Sanskrit Theater theory (Nāṭya Śāstra), and by open class discussions of films we shall watch.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Three 300 words RRRP (reading reports in response to a prompt) (10×3=30%) starting from the second week and one final project report of 600 words (50%) and class/ discussion section oral participation (20%).

Biology: Python for Research in Life Sciences
Course code: BIO-3636
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.
Pre-requisites: None.
Grading Policy: 50% Assignments + 20% Exam + DIY project – 20 % + Classroom participation – 10 %

Creative Writing: Reading for Writing
Course code: CW 1005-2
Faculty: Arunava Sinha, Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course is an intensive immersion in reading as preparation to be a writer. It involves reading 10 novellas and novels (tentative reading list below), participating in discussions, writing short papers, and making a presentation. The objective is to read in a way that will inform your writing subsequently.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: 20%: Class participation (including attendance) 60%: Four pieces of 500 words each on one selected work from the readings, to be submitted at the end of weeks 3, 6, 9, 12 20%: A presentation on a chosen book-length text from outside the readings.

Economics: Economics of Global Health
Course Code: ECO 3651
Faculty: Santosh Kumar, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University,
Course Description: India GDP has grown almost 9 times since 1991 yet only 21% of mothers had full antenatal care in 2015-16, 78% of the mothers delivered babies in hospital; 62% of 12-23 months old children are fully immunized; 38% of under-five children are stunted and 21% are wasted; 58% of school-going children in Bihar are anemic (lack iron), infant mortality rate is 41 and under-five mortality is 50. Very gloomy picture!
Are there economic reasons for such a poor health scenario in developing countries? The answer is YES. This course examines current health policy issues and debates in developing countries from an economics perspective. Topics may vary but are likely to include the relationship between health and economic development, the need for financial risk protection against health shocks, the control of malaria, relationship between fetal and early-child conditions on human capital, and other related topics. There will be a strong focus on interpreting the relevant empirical literature. The course will approach these issues from microeconomics perspective and will analyze economic behavior at micro level i.e. individual and household. The course will also discuss program evaluation techniques to understand which health policy works in the field. The course will make a case that early-life health and children well-being are critical to human capital and economic development.
Pre-requisites: ECO 2101 (Microeconomic Theory I) and ECO 2400 (Econometrics)
Grading Policy: Your final grade will be composed of the following components: – 4 in-class Pop quizzes, every Thursday (20%) – Mid-term exam (30%) – Class participation and attendance (10%) – Term paper (group project, 2 students per group) (40% of your final grade)

Economics: Game Theory and Applications
Course Code: ECO-3100
Faculty: Ratul Lahkar, Professor, Ashoka University,
Course Description: The course will cover application of game theory to problems of economic development. There will be a revision of basic game theory concepts as well.
Pre-requisites: ECO 2102
Grading Policy: Three class tests, each having equal weight. The standard grading rubric in Ashoka will be followed.

Economics: Machine Learning for Economics
Course Code: ECO 3404
Faculty: Amit Kumar Goyal, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University,
Course Description: In this course, we’ll start with Introduction to Python Programming – Variables, Lists, Tuples, Dictionaries, Functions, and Loops. Then we’ll look at the relevant Python libraries such as Numpy, Matplotlib, Pandas, Scikit-learn and Scipy and explore these for data analysis, manipulation and data visualization. After this we’ll do a refresher on mathematics needed for Machine Learning and cover key concepts of linear algebra, and multivariable calculus using Python and then use it to perform optimization tasks in Python. We’ll then review some probability concepts and see how to use simulation in learning economics. Finally, we’ll use all of the above to perform machine learning tasks such as: (i) Supervised learning (linear regression, logistic regression, neural networks). (ii) Unsupervised learning (clustering).
Pre-requisites: Mathematics for Economics and Statistics for Economics
Grading Policy: Homework (40%): There are 5 homework in this course; Attendance and Class Participation (10%); Final (50%)

English: Introduction to Phenomenology for Literature
Course Code: ENG-3765
Faculty: Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: This will be an introductory course for phenomenology for students of literature. In this course, we will cover the major phenomenological breakthroughs, from Franz Brentano’s revival of the concept of intentionality to Edmund Husserl’s development of the phenomenological reduction, Martin Heidegger’s move towards the question of Being and later post-war developments, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Derrida. We will explore how phenomenology gradually moves away from its origins as part of the movement seeking the foundations of scientific research and becomes integral to literary research.
Pre-requisites: None
Cross-Listings: None
Grading Policy: One end term paper and two in class presentations.

History: War: History, Politics, Society
Course code: HIS-2505/SOA-2234/POL-2107-1
Faculty: Pratyay Nath, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: How has war shaped gender identities and political ideologies in our societies? In what ways do race, class, and religion figure in the experience of war? How have computer games, movies, and museums made war an object of popular consumption? These are some of the questions that the present course addresses. It offers a global history of the inter-relationship between war, politics, and society. The present course will study this rich history through a close reading of recent scholarly literature on the subject as well as a hands-on experience of analysing modern cultural artefacts (movies, graphic novels, and games) of war.
Pre-requisites: None.
Cross-listing: Political Science and Sociology
Grading Policy: Class Participation 25%, Mid-Term Presentation 35%, Term Paper 40%

International Relations: The Rise of Populism in International Politics
Course code: IR-2013/ POL-2038-1
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: 100 Level Introductory IR course
Cross-listing: Political Science
Grading Policy: Continuous assessment

Mathematics: Mathematical foundations of data sciences
Course Code: MAT-4020 / CS-2380
Faculty: Kumarjit Saha, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: In the first part of this course we will discuss various applications of linear algebra in data science specifically in data compression. We will also discuss respective algorithms and their implementations using Python/ R.
In the second part of the course we will discuss theory of Markov chains and use it to analyze random movement of particles over a graph network. This is extremely important for studying social network. We will end this section by discussing two major results:
a) Polya’s result regarding recurrence and transience of random walks and
b) Google’s page rank algorithm
In the third part (only if time permits) of the course we will discuss some advanced topics of predictive analytics
Regression: Multiple Linear Regression, Variable Selection, Logistic Regression,
Classification: Review of Linear Classifiers (LDA and QDA), CART, CHAID
(We may change the order if required. We may drop or add some topics depending on our progress)
Pre-requisites: Probability and Statisitcs (MAT-2020), Linear algebra MAT – 1001
Cross-Listings: CS 2380
Grading Policy: It will be based on assignments, projects and exams

Media Studies: Watershed moments of Hindi Cinema
Course Code: MS-2492/ ENG-2804
Faculty: Aakshi Magazine, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: Cinema history can be recounted in multiple ways. In this course, we will engage with selected watershed moments of Hindi cinema – starting from 1950s post-Independence cinema to contemporary times. A watershed moment could be an event, a film (Sholay), a change in technology (introduction of playback singing), a loss (decline of the single screen theatre) or the rise of a new music composer (A R Rahman in the 1990s). Each week will focus on select moments that are central to understanding Hindi cinema.
In doing so, the course will provide a foundational introduction to both Hindi cinema and through that, to the field of film studies. Students will be expected to watch films before or in some cases, during class. These will be made available a month ahead of the summer course as well on a drive link
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Attendance and participation: 20% Class Presentation: 20% In-class writing exercises/quiz, classwork, discussion: 20% Final assignment: 40% 3 unexcused absences allowed.

Media Studies: Introduction to Newswriting and Reporting
Course code: MS-1101
Faculty: Neha Dixit, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description: With so much white noise in the millennial digital space, opinion and content writing are often confused with journalism. This course is a primer on how to identify, report and write news pieces. It includes an introduction to journalism fundamentals and ethics, the concept of news- what is noteworthy and why, techniques to find news stories, building news sources, and practising various news writing formats.
Pre-requisites: None
Grading Policy: Three class tests, each having equal weight. The standard grading rubric in Ashoka will be followed.

Psychology: Psychological Understanding of Trauma
Course Code: PSY-3049
Faculty: Simantini Ghosh, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Course Description: The course will cover neurobiology of trauma and the psychological mechanisms and dysfunctions that underlie traumatic response. Beyond the neuroscience, we will also explore the roles of the gut-brain axis and the link between the brain and the immune system which forms a major link between the trauma response. The second section of the course will cover the link between trauma and psychopathology- we will cover the genetics, epigenetics and behavioral perspectives underlying this link and discuss how trauma affects behavior at an individual and collective level. We will further explore collective and intergenerational trauma perspectives. The third and final section of the course will focus on interventions and trauma informed care, strengths and weakness, pitfalls and planning of future interventions. The instructor will used a flipped classroom in half the classes, where students will present papers, and the instructor will serve as a mediator. We will assume an intersectional lens when we analyze specific examples. The instructor will pick case studies from South Asian and Indian contexts in particular for students to appreciate how cross-cultural differences in norms and attitudes can have long-lasting effects on how trauma is experiences, addressed and processed.
Pre-requisites: SRM2 (PSY2002); Introduction to Neuroscience (PSY2011); Clinical Psychology(PSY2041)
Grading Policy: Students will maintain a reflexivity journal and make entries every week (20%) , Engage in class presentations (20%), Summarize at least one research article from the readings allocated every week (20%) and Write one essay either individually or in a group assignment (which will depend on the class size) on a relevant topic that will involve some secondary research of primary data sources (30%). 10% of the grade will be reserved for course participation and academic integrity.

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