Foundation courses: a holistic approach to education
SaiU students begin their education with an introduction to some of the fundamental issues that make life worthwhile. The foundation courses that all students who enter the portals of SaiU will undergo, encapsulate our philosophy that an education for life must aim at creating more than a successful career. It has been shaped with valuable inputs from our stellar board of management. Regardless of their choice of specializations, SaiU students will be exposed to some of the pressing political, social and cultural issues of the time, learn the art of communication, the ability to think critically, the principles of ethical and moral reasoning and above all, explore what it is to be human.
The two modules of Global Challenges convened by the Founder of the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University Sherman Teichman are an intensive examination of global issues, in which thinkers and leaders are on the front lines of global conflict, working in different parts of the world, introduce the issues to the students. Week after week, different speakers help students understand the complexity of the times we live in, while at the same time, prompting them to think of the interconnectedness and the need to work together to mitigate some of the issues. Similarly, discipline-specific issues are dealt with in the two Frontiers Courses – one each in Arts and Sciences and Computing and Data Science
In this age of information overdrive, the hallmark of an educated person is the ability to see opinions, media reports, edicts, ideologies, pronouncements, political views, and claims for what they are. Conscious monitoring of one’s thought processes before arriving at a conclusion or embracing a belief calls for structured and disciplined thinking, or what is best described as critical thinking , which is offered as a course in the first year. A critical thinker is able to wade through the sea of information to sift the wheat from the chaff and make considered judgments.
Deepening the understanding of human values are two courses ‘Ethical/Moral Reasoning’ that acquaints students with research from social psychology about how people tend to judge themselves and others, and ‘What does it mean to be human’ that comprises perspectives from cognitive neuroscience, anthropology, biology, genetics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, and spiritual study on the evolution of human beings. The course is taught by a team led by Vice-Chancellor Jamshed Bharucha in collaboration with Professor Michael Gazzaniga (University of California, Santa Barbara), and Professor Daniel Dennett (Tufts University).
Thinking critically is but half the battle won. One needs to communicate effectively to make an impact in the world today. The course in writing and the continued focus on the art of writing throughout the undergraduate program signals our belief that the ability to write clearly and concisely in English is an unenviable asset in today’s workforce.
Thorough education is more than a mastery over different concepts and theories. Laying the foundation for responsible citizens are the course on study of environment from different perspectives including science, health, engineering, economics, culture, law, and policy and the course on the Indian Constitution, both aimed at creating individuals who take the lead in preserving and restoring them for generations to come.
SaiU’s foundation courses are designed to help students create an authentic sense of themselves and the world and more importantly, to equip them well to embark upon a life-long quest to realize their potential.