UG Humanities at IISc: 2012-13

It is proposed to use the opportunity of a course in Humanities at IISc to bring about synergy between the humanities and social sciences (or ‘human sciences’) and the natural sciences.

A major problem of higher education in our country is the strict separation between how we study the natural and human worlds. Thus we have two cubicalized domains of knowledge – the natural and human sciences – internally “dominated by striations of expertise with deep chasms in between” (Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education’, 2009, popularly known as the Yashpal Committee Report).

Our understanding of the natural worlds and the human worlds is also split. This separation is not porous but watertight, so the knowledge-systems that develop around these two worlds are mutually exclusive. However, the complexity of the problems we face in a rapidly globalizing world demand solutions which are far more holistic, requiring knowledges and methodologies which straddle several disciplines.

In order that the science and technology community in this country provide effective leadership for the knowledge society, and bring new insights to areas such as sustainable development, agriculture, industry and health, we need a broader conception of science and its deep and complex relations with society and culture. Today many science teaching institutes have started imparting to students an interdisciplinary and integrated training in the natural sciences. A further and necessary step in integration would be to bring together training in human sciences (including social sciences as well as humanities) with natural science training. Instead of simply being represented through add-on or optional courses, the human sciences have to demonstrate convergence and synergy with natural science questions, and be relevant and useful to science students.

Centre for Contemporary Studies (CCS) at IISc has been in the forefront of bringing into dialogue thought-leaders from the many different areas of knowledge production.