Torchbearers of academia discuss plans for academic excellence during the 9th Academic Advisory Council at IIT Gandhinagar

Gandhinagar: The 9th Academic Advisory Council (AAC) of the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) was held today with illustrious external academicians from India and overseas as well as IITGN faculty members. The AAC of IITGN is organised annually to reflect upon academic priority areas for IITGN.

The day-long deliberations started with the council participants from Duke University, USA; University of Colorado, USA; University Institute of Lisbon, (ISCTE-IUL), Portugal; Yale University, USA; IIT Delhi; IIT Bombay; Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore; among others, who provided their valuable and strategic inputs.

Deliberations were held on ways to promote research among non-PhD students. Academic experts recommended ways to encourage undergraduate and masters students to participate and get involved in research by giving them an orientation to various research topics, making them collaborate with a PhD student on a research topic, and how the process can be beneficial to their overall development. Although the council members agreed that students in all disciplines are less interested in research now because their main focus is to join the industry after graduation.

The need to adopt a General Education component in the curriculum, on the lines of US universities was also considered, which includes subjects like culture, ethics, civics, history, society, data analysis, writing etc. The council members debated various perspectives of the current education scenario where students work in a more networked society and are using multiple external platforms for learning.

Prof Shyam Sunder, James L Frank Professor of Accounting, Economics, and Finance from Yale University, USA said, “The purpose of general education should be critical thinking, creativity, writing skills, sense of personal responsibility, self-reflection and things like that. Those things can be developed in students through any subject ranging from history, archaeology, art, literature, to music, and so on.” They all agreed that general education is all about effective teaching and learning that will be useful to students in their career.

Another topic of discussion during the meeting was various aspects of developing an effective system to increase faculty service for institutional building. It was opined that service system should grow into the system as a collaborative commitment and it should be made flexible as per a person’s strengths and interests. The point of faculty and staff development was also discussed. The participants suggested strategies and training models that can groom them for leadership. It was emphasised to provide the staff exposure visits to other prominent educational institutes to learn best practices from each other.