ST. STEPHEN’S COLLEGE
A Preliminary Document to Facilitate Consultation
Prepared by the
Focus Group on Academic Courses
Dear Fellow Stephanians,
I am extremely grateful to the Focus Group on Academic Courses chaired by Shri. B. G. Varghese, alumnus, for preparing this comprehensive and well thought-out document, outlining the possible academic trajectories that our College could take in the years ahead. It is being now posted on College Website to involve the larger, dispersed family of Stephanians, in this process of evolving and defining a relevant and adequate Vision for the College through a consultative and transparent process. I seek your valuable inputs. You may communicate your comments and concerns to Mr. Varghese, Dr. Pajapati Trivedi, Dr. S. V. Eswaran or to me on the following email ids:
- Shri. B. G. Varghese – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Prajapati Trivedi – email@example.com
- Dr. Prof. Valson Thampu – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. S. V. Eswaran – email@example.com
Arguably, this is the most crucial and valuable contribution you can make to the continued relevance and robustness of the College we so love and cherish. I look forward to a rich harvest of insights and suggestions from my fellow Stephanians.
While you are wholly free to offer whatever comments you feel urged to, I would request that you put special focus on:
(a) What, if any, you consider to be impractical/ irrelevant/ superfluous in the proposals advanced.
(b) What in these ideas/ suggestions you consider most worthwhile and why?
(c) What is of significant importance missing from the list of possible courses? What, in other words, is it that you would want to see St. Stephen’s offering to the students hereon?
(d) If you were to identify 5- 7 courses that St. Stephen’s should be offering, in addition to the course already on offer, what would they be? Please list them with short justifications for each.
The Focus Group on Academic Courses eagerly awaits your inputs. So please hurry!
(For and on behalf of the FGAC)
1. The Purpose of This document
The purpose of this document is to initiate a dialogue on the future for St. Stephen’s College and generate a consensus on Vision 2050 among its stakeholders. It is not intended as a definitive statement of an agreed Vision. Rather, it highlights views, issues and options that require our collective thought and wisdom. We hope that all Stephanians, in the larger sense of the word, will participate in, and contribute to, this dialogue as best they can and as soon.
2. What is a Vision?
Visioning is a process for achieving agreement on the kind of future a community or an organization needs to create for itself – and a shared commitment to creating that future. Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle acknowledged that “the soul never thinks without a picture.” However, Visioning is about far more than painting a picture of the future a community wishes to create. Visioning must be informed by discernment and careful analysis. It should involve community members, inspiring them while winning their allegiance. A good Visioning process has real power. It can:
- Help leaders step outside their current mindset and think anew about their community’s condition, potential, and strategic priorities.
- Help both leaders and stakeholders (including community members) internalize a new understanding of the challenges and opportunities they face as well as formulate an appropriate “road map” to reach where we need to.
- Help leaders from different institutions and sectors agree on a shared Vision and goals.
- Set the direction for organizational change
- Act as a “magnet for collaboration,” inspiring thousands of people to work together to achieve a chosen purpose.
- Simplify thousands of decisions and avoid months of needless discussion by providing a guide that can help people figure out what to do and what no longer needs to be done.
- Create a new vocabulary that can reshape public perceptions.
An effective Vision statement is:
- Outcome-based. The Vision is stated in terms of end results.
- Inclusive. It resonates with a majority of its target community.
- Vivid. It creates a picture of the desired future.
- Clear. It is easily understood.
- Communicable. One of world’s leading management professors, Prof. Kotter, suggests this rule of thumb: it “can be successfully explained within five minutes.”
- Unique. It differentiates your community from other communities.
- Inspiring. It appeals to the public spirit.
- Challenging. It includes audacious goals and has the power to motivate.
- Realistic. It does not require miracles; it builds on the cards you have been dealt.
- Credible. People believe they can bring it to life.
- Focused. It is specific enough to provide guidance in decision making.
- Widely shared. It is embraced across party lines and in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
There is no ideal length or language for a Vision Document. In what follows, we highlight some issues and some thoughts on these issues that have emerged from discussion thus far. We look forward to hearing from you – the alumni or anyone who believes in the proactive role that St. Stephen’s should play in the domain of higher education in a fast-changing scenario – on any or all aspects of the Vision outlined below. Once we develop a clear Vision, implementation will become easier.
3. What should be the time-horizon for the Vision?
Should we think of two time periods: 2010-2030 and 2030-2050?
Should the Vision be 2050 but implementation can be in phases? –
THE LATTER, AS INDICATED BELOW-
The Vision and Infrastructure Master Plan will need to be implemented in three or four phases:
Stage I. Inception, planning and essential renovation – 2011-13.
Stage II – 2014-2020
Stage III – 2021-30
Stage IV – Consolidation
4. What should be the core ingredients of Vision 2050?
What should the College look like academically in 2050?
By 2025 and certainly by 2050, St Stephen’s should be an autonomous degree giving University with undergraduate, post-graduate, diploma and doctoral studies, starting maybe as a “deemed to be” University.
The College would need to have a strength of 3-4000 students and a faculty of around 200-300 teachers, including research assistants. While the sciences, mathematics and economics /management are important, the College should not lose its well-settled identity as a liberal arts college that offers a well-rounded education that does not divorce humanities or cultural pursuits from career-oriented degrees.
The foreign student component may be capped at 10 per cent and a large number of stipends, freeships and scholarships should be provided for.
One of the requirements to be a Deemed University is to demonstrate undeniable strength in one of the fields. Should we develop Economics as our core area of strength for this purpose? Given the huge demand we could easily double the students admitted without lowering the quality of in-take. The best and the brightest from all over India want to do Economics at the College. Is this a good idea?
Or, should we develop the following new areas:
- Geography/Environment Studies (not environment sciences) and Climate change.
- North Eastern Studies
- Tribal Studies/Anthropology
- Comparative Religion and Cultural Appreciation;
- Human Rights, HR Law and Conflict Management (separate discipline)
- International Relations/ South Asian Studies;
- Grassroots Governance/Rural Management;
- Urban Planning and Governance;
- South-east Asian studies
- Economics of Neighboring Countries
- Appreciation of other cultures.
- History (A deeper study of Indian culture and appreciation of our history)
- International trade/ International law
- Genomics and proteomics
- Ecological biochemistry.
- Horizons of life (open to parents and others?)
- Global poverty: Causes and Cures
- Political Science
- Bachelor of Elementary Education envisaged as a Centre for Elementary Education that undertakes also some advocacy work.
Currently, we have only two labs for physics and chemistry. They are in a pathetic condition and need urgent up-gradation to make them India-class, not to say anything about becoming world-class. Should we focus on pure science? Or should we move into applied sciences and technology? If so, which areas of science and technology should we focus on?
Can we really become world class without a solid research program in these areas of science and technology?
- Should the College consider areas such as microbiology, biomedical science,
- Biotechnology, which are already being taught in other colleges of Delhi University, and are already well established there. Therefore, would it not be better that college looks for a more futuristic direction?
- The current craze for science-technology-driven courses must be factored into our vision but we should not lose sight of the core vision of the College which is to cater to the all round development of every student and to bench-mark the socio-cultural wholeness of a nation through education. The founders of our College envisioned St. Stephen’s as a corrective -may we even say, healing- intervention in India. That was why they wanted a largely residential college where people from the diverse and plural enclaves that comprise our country -caste, creed, cuisine . . . – and learn that we are one, by living and learning together. We are a rainbow and not a bow!
- If we claim to be a national institution, we must think clearly and seriously on how to make the best possible contribution to nation building on a continuing basis. This calls for:
(a) developing our academic matrix in a vigilant and proactive manner and
(b) promoting the foundational values (in particular a work-culture/ the spirit of public service, enlivened by respect for the Constitution of India, fortified by commitment to justice, truth and quality of life for every citizen). As of today our College -as indeed the entire educational approach nation-wide – is a long away from this.
- As long as we remain within the University structure, are we pegged to under-development? We are not free to purse a vision of education that we may wish to. For example, if we want to give come credit to community service, we cannot do it. [For example, in the ’70 Principal, Dr. Valson Thampu, used to take his English Hons. Students to a village in Baghpath (UP) for a 10-day rural camp, in collaboration with (a) the AIIMS and (b) the Dept. of Social Work (DU). He could not give them any credit for participating in this programme. But they were happy. Attitudes have changed a great deal since then. Today students do anything at all only on the assurance that it matters on paper in some form or the other. He also used to serve as a volunteer, along with 8-10 of our students in Nirmal Hriday, the Home for the Destitute and the Dying established by Mother Teresa on all Mondays. He found it to be joyful experience, though extremely demanding work] Yet, without such inputs how do we promote the spirit of service or convince the youth of today that it matters? . . . . .
Additionally, we cannot design our own courses or be creative in our idea and practice of education. There is no doubt that Delhi University is one of the best in the country. It is excellent at the Post Graduate level; but it stifles UG education by straitjacketing it. Increasingly, centralized bureaucratic control is taking over every aspect of academia. This does not augur well for the uniqueness of our College or of any institution, for that matter. In this light we need to ask:
- What characterizes our College as different from others?
- Which of our past faculty are remembered and most revered and why?
- What are the strengths of the college? Should we not be building on our strengths? While undoubtedly Economics, English literature and History, continue to be highly preferred, in the last four decades Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics have carved out niches of excellence for themselves. Our Science Courses are today rated the best in the country.
- Should college create special chairs in the name of such eminent faculty, who are remembered and most revered?
- Should initially only a special centre for Economics started or would it lead to an imbalance in college? (Other similar centers could be ‘Centre for Mathematics’, ‘Centre for Material Science (Organic Electronics)’?
- Should special chairs be set up, named after eminent faculty members, some of the possibilities being:
- i)C. Ray Chair for Economics
- ii) Mohd. Amin Chair for History
iii) W.S. Rajpaul Chair for Languages and Literature
- iv) Prof. Ram Bihari Mathur/ Dr. S.R. Nagpaul Chair for Mathematics
- v) Rajendra Popli Chair for Physics
- vi) C.J. Raphael Chair for Chemistry.
vii) Ranjeet Bhatia Chair for excellence in Sport [s and Games].
- Should the corporate sector be invited to endow chairs with appropriate acknowledgements?
- Can/should college become autonomous, or seek ‘deemed university’ status without its minority status being compromised?
- Should we have a Cooperative (CO-OP) program? Ref.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative_education) ?
- What should be the balance between structured versus non-structured programs? Should we allow students to cross register in other DU colleges for specific courses?
5. SWOT Analysis: What are Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing the College in regard to achieving the proposed Vision?
We are possibly the best liberal arts and sciences college in the country. College continues to get much attention in the media, and undoubtedly attracts the best students from all over. We are appreciated for our wholesome work culture [‘classes happen’ in College!]. We have a dedicated faculty and the strength of college includes ‘beyond the classroom’ instruction as well. The activities of the Societies and Clubs complement classroom education very substantially. Despite the nationally respected tradition of excellence we have nurtured over 130 years, we still remain, for all practical purposes, an under-graduate institution, no doubt, doing what we do as best we can. The college has yet not broken fresh ground in post graduate studies to qualify for a full fledged University status, as was pointed out, with manifest disappointment, by Shri. Kapil Sibal in the dismissal service address (March, 2009).
Teachers of eminence have willingly served and sacrificed for college. It is, therefore, pertinent to ask whether college should engage in research, and if so, to what degree (and to what extent). Should not the college be engaged in studies on creating social awareness? As we are poised to consider bringing about major changes in college, it is to be emphasized that this exercise should be undertaken with great care and caution, ensuring that the College continues its journey uninterrupted along the proven (not beaten) path of pedagogic distinction.
6. In view of the above what should be the key elements in our strategy to achieve our Vision?
- How to encourage the faculty to generate new educational pedagogy and continually build on their academic capabilities and credentials? How do we attempt and sustain the exhilaration of “pursued excellence” and not merely bask in the “rear-view-mirror-vision” of “achieved excellence”?
- Functions like Christmas children’s party, and the Rudra dinner, sports meet enabled the College community to live together harmoniously and safeguard our institutional cohesion, even as we remained hospitable to the variety and plurality that constitute our national wealth. Is this model worthy of preservation, as against a highly formalized corporate sector like set-up?
- Should college offer one year post-graduate courses PGMS/ PG diploma in subjects taught in college (and allied subjects)? (This would provide a much needed fourth year, which is a requirement for taking up higher studies abroad, (like U.S.). Many of our students are obliged, at present, to take up two- year Masters programmes.
- Should college consider starting dual degree programs (with a certain degree of flexibility) and with foreign Universities, in a ‘sandwich’ manner? Carrying over credits over for one or two semester for studies undertaken in other institutions in India and abroad should not only be allowed but also encouraged. This is in conformity with the semester system which has already been introduced in science courses in Delhi University. It is expected that the semester scheme would apply to all courses w. e. f the next academic year.
- Should the College offer joint courses with other institutions?
- Should courses of an inter-disciplinary nature be taken up?
7. Some Concerns
- We have to pay attention to, and provide for, Faculty Development Programmes. There is hardly any provision for this crucial area of College life. There are, as of now, no funds at the disposal of the Principal to enable him even to meet groups of teachers informally/socially (over tea/lunch/dinner) to keep them enthused and to transfer a vision to them.
- Recently, Principal has made a large number of fresh appointments (For 8 long years no appointments had been done and teaching was being done by a bevy of 31 ad hoc teachers! Nothing more would have been required to ensure the total demoralization and destruction of the College than the continuation of this system!). Many of the new recruits are from outside the system. They need to be nurtured. It is a tall order. We need to plan some programmes to cater to this need.
- How do we make our College a place of serious intellectual pursuits? How do we shift from warehousing information to producing knowledge? Without this shift, our College shall soon lose it sheen. Brand-value is not like diamonds (which, they say, are forever!). It can wax and wane by the moon!
- Common spaces, generalized v/s specialized spaces. Unlike spaces allotted to individuals in other institutions (which often lie unused), our college has had many common spaces accessible to one and all. It is however understood well that there always would be some specialized spaces (e. g. Library, Laboratories, Internet Resource Centre)
- Should college look for additional land (e. g. Mori Gate playing fields, land belonging to C. N. I.?
- Should college build an academic guest house facility for visiting academicians, especially the alumni who have distinguished themselves in academics in the global arena and are willing to share their intellectual resources with the College for varying periods, provided we are in a position to offer suitable/acceptable local hospitality?
- Should we implement our academic plans in a phased manner? If so, what should be the sequencing?
- What should be the governance structure to implement the strategic plan?
- Should the college set up a trust to implement the master plan?
- We may SET UP AN Implementing Agency such as a “Trust”, suitably structured and manned by persons well versed in academics, management / administration, accountancy, architecture, catering, etc, and drawn from the alumni and Friends of St Stephen’s College at home and abroad. This will need a Charter, Chairperson, Secretary and a Treasurer, at the very least.
IT IS PROPOSED TO DEVELOP “VISION 2050” FOR OUR ALMA MATER THROUGH THE WIDEST AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE POSSIBLE CONSULTATIVE PROCESS.YET, THERE IS MUCH URGENCY IN THIS REGARD, GIVEN THE FACT THAT FOR SEVERAL DECADES OUR COLLEGE HAS REMAINED MOSTLY STAGNANT.
THIS URGENCY SHALL NOT, AT THE SAME TIME, BE AN ALIBI TO COMPROMISE TRANSPARENCY IN RESPECT OF THIS CRUCIAL EXERCISE. ALL STAKEHOLDERS – THE FACULTY, THE STUDENT COMMUNITY, THE ALUMNI AND EXPERTS – ARE WELCOME AND URGED TO RESPOND AND TO PARTICIPATE.
IT IS PROPOSED TO OPEN A DEDICATED WEB SITE TO FACILITATE THIS PROCESS. TILL SUCH TIME AS SUCH A WEBSITE BECOMES FUNCTIONAL, WE SHALL USE THE SPACE AFFORDED BY THE COLLEGE WEBSITE.
THE FOCUS GROUP ON ACADEMIC COURSES
- Shri. B. G. Varghese – Chairperson
- Prof. Dinesh Singh – Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi
- Dr. Prajapati Trivedi
- Dr. S.V. Eswaran
- Mr. Shashank Veer
- Mr. Arvind Malhotra.
- The Principal
The Focus Group is chaired by Shri. B. G. Varghese and it includes (a) The Principal (b) Dr. Prajapti Trivedi (c) Prof. Dinesh Singh, V.C, Delhi University (d) Dr. S.V. Eswaran (e) Mr. Shashank Veera (f) Mr. Arvind Malhotra. Others who wish to join this group are welcome, provided there is a commitment to participate regularly and passionately.