Ashoka University’s Interactive Virtual Seminar Series ‘Beyond The Classroom’ Goes Multilingual

Sonipat: In the last week of May 2020,Ashoka University under its interactive virtual seminar series Beyond the Classroom will host a week of multilingual lectures where its faculty will present their research and ideas in a language other than English. Thelive sessions will be open for everyone to attend.

Every day for five consecutive days, a new faculty member will break down complex academic research into simple, introductory 20-minute lectures. These seminars will use a mix of technical and colloquial language to make the content accessible to a variety of audiences. In a country where the majority of people are either bilingual or multilingual, Ashoka University believes it is crucial to attempt to bring ideas and academic research to the fore in as many languages as possible. The episodes will be broadcast simultaneously on YouTube.

‘Beyond the Classroom’ (BTC) is Ashoka University’s virtual attempt to explore a universe of interesting and relevant ideas, and bring them to an audience who loves learning, in an accessible format.Semester 1 which began on April 4, saw 12 seminars in subjects spanning the range from Philosophy, History, Literature, Biology and more. The faculty members explored a topic or a thought from an introductory perspective and brought it to life through a live and interactive webinar.

According to Malabika Sarkar, Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University, “We introduced Beyond the Classroom with an aim to make learning more accessible. With the success of Beyond the Classroom: Semester 1 it is evident that there is a broad demographic audience that wants to learn and engage. Ashoka faculty presenting research and ideas in a language other than English will be a small step towards acknowledging and celebrating India’s linguistic diversity.”

Once the live session is over, key content from the episode will be cut and edited to be uploaded on various other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. The live sessions will be recorded and made available as episodes on Ashoka University’s YouTube channel as well as website.Details of upcoming episodes will be available on Ashoka University’s website, Instagram handle, Facebook page and Twitter handle.

BTC Multilingual Week: May 26 to May 30

May 26 (Tuesday) –  Rita Kothari | Hindi/English/Gujarati/Sindhi

Title: ‘Bolchaal: a multilingual journey of India’

We often think of languages as unique and separate. Even our use of the word ‘multilingualism’ suffers from the same sense of separating languages. However, ‘separate’ languages sometimes have similar underpinnings, and a single language can contain variety and ‘manyness’ within it. Bolchaal — regular conversations, mixing words and ideas from different sources, heard in bazaars and trains, in films and real lives — challenges this textbook notion of single and separate languages. Prof. Rita Kothari, with years of experience with languages, literature, translation, cinema, and ethnography, will take us on a multilingual journey of languages and their evolution in India.

Rita is a professor of English. She earned her Ph.D. from Gujarat University.

 May 27 (Wednesday)  – Debayan Gupta (Bengali)

Title: ‘Truth, Lies, and Secrets: A brief history of privacy’

In this seminar, Debayan Gupta will explore the history of privacy and security as well as the dissemination of information and its impact on our daily lives. He will present how emerging technologies have revealed new ways to use data for good or ill.

Debayan is an assistant professor of computer science. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale.

Watch here the English version of BTC Semester 1

May 28 (Thursday) – Bittu Rajaraman | Kannada

Title: ‘How we think: from the brain to behaviour’

Biologist and psychologist, Bittu Rajaraman will explore how humans think about problems through the brains and behaviour patterns of a range of animals. The talk will range from looking at communication in insects to economic and mathematical decisions made by fish and dogs.

Bittu is an associate professor of biology and psychology. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in neuroscience.

Watch here the English version of BTC Semester 1

May 29 (Friday) – Ali Khan Mahmudabad | Urdu

Title: ‘Islamic Poetry: combat with the self’

Using poetry from Arabic, Persian, and Urdu sources, Ali Khan Mahmudabad will chart a thousand-year journey of devout Muslims across cultures and languages. He will illustrate how poetry has been used as a way to engage with, and even question religious philosophy, tradition, and orthodox practice.

Ali is an assistant professor of political science and history. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Watch here the English version of BTC Semester 1

May 30 (Saturday) – Rudrangshu Mukherjee | Bengali

Title: ‘Remembering Bapu: Gandhi vs Swaraj’

For the last seminar, Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee will examine Gandhi’s fundamental beliefs and their influence on his political actions and personal choices. Using rare archival material, and the Hind Swaraj, the talk will explore the circumstances which turned Gandhi into a lonely and disillusioned man in his final years.

Internationally acclaimed historian Rudrangshu Mukherjee is Chancellor and professor of history. He was also the Founding Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka. He earned his DPhil from the University of Oxford.

Watch here the English version of BTC Semester 1