Cafeteria Approach – A breakthrough transformative pedagogy practiced at SCMS for more than a decade

Pune: The Government of India has taken a bold step of introducing the National Education Policy to revolutionize the Indian education system. The policy was introduced keeping in mind the changing need of the global marketplace. One of the key approaches discussed in the New Education policy is holistic and multidisciplinary education with the flexibility of subjects so that learners have the ability to choose their learning trajectories and programmes. Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies (SCMS), Pune, successfully incorporated this unique approach under the name ‘Cafeteria Approach’ almost a decade back. The cafeteria approach is an innovative pedagogy of learning that involves students and their holistic development throughout the process rather than limiting them to books, subjects, or notes. The cafeteria method of learning provides a list of options for young professionals.

This approach allows students to explore their interests by allowing them to pick from a variety of specialities and create a basket of their preferred topics that assists them in developing certain abilities for their professional path. A variety of pedagogical methods is the best way to assist future industry leaders.

The Cafeteria approach at SCMS Pune allows students to make their own bouquet of subjects. SCMS Pune offers a range of electives and the program structure provides flexibility to the students to study the subjects that they want to study. Students at SCMS Pune do not just learn Management subjects but are also given a multidisciplinary exposure where they also have the option to learn subjects like design/law/ photography or even culinary arts to name a few. This multidisciplinary approach is called Floating credits in SCMS. It provides a holistic view and a student gains many skills that are so essential in all phases of life and can be easily transferable across work environments.

According to Dr. Adya Sharma, Director of SCMS Pune, “We saw the necessity to develop the study of entrepreneurship and environmental management from two courses to a set of courses leading to a speciality under the requirements of the country’s environmental and employment landscape.”  She also added, “The main objective of the institution is to offer its students a solid knowledge basis, to inspire an interest in research, to instil values, to promote general development via cultural and sporting activities, and to create a learning environment”.

SCMS Pune commenced its program with a basic BBA program involving three tracks to select from i.e. Corporate Management, Accounting & Finance, and International Business. The global education landscape has evolved and changed dramatically over the years, and so are the needs of the students and marketplace. SCMS, Pune was foremost in recognising the need and the necessity to adapt. Eventually addressing the change with respect to the global environment the institute divided Corporate Management into Human Resources Management and Marketing Management.

SCMS Pune intends to focus on the holistic development of the student and recognizes that the curriculum at the UG level should not be excessively focused or strait-jacketed. The adoption of the cafeteria approach has enabled SCMS, Pune to provide a learning environment to its students, enhance students’ entrepreneurial abilities, and create future-ready leaders and global citizens. Being acquainted with many modes of teaching-learning prepares students for the plethora of modes of learning they will encounter throughout their lives and jobs. To enhance the global experience of the students, the curriculum is also enriched with activities and programs such as GIP (Global Immersion Program), Summer schools, Guest lectures by foreign faculty, COIL, etc. SCMS, Pune strongly believes that in today’s globalized society, such exposures are critical for shaping future-ready global citizens.