Dr. K. Kasturirangan


Dr. K. Kasturirangan

Date & Time: 31st March 2021 : 03:00PM

Title: Liberal Education - Key Response to a Dynamic Knowledge Society

Abstract: The recent National Education Policy, NEP 2020 identified the need to move towards a more imaginative and broad-based liberal education as a foundation for holistic development of all students. This approach, specifically focussed on undergraduate level, envisages overhauling of the undergraduate education towards bringing in liberal education through holistic and multidisciplinary orientation in teaching and learning, as a prelude to a more rigorous specialisation in chosen fields and disciplines. The premise for such a step is that all branches of creative human endeavour, including mathematics and science should be considered as arts, more appropriately liberal arts which in turn means a liberal notion of the arts. These have distinct Indian origins, dating back to over 2000 years, including Bana Bhatta’s Kadambari, written nearly 1400 years ago. This narration described what is called as Kalas or Arts, where a truly educated person is described as one who mastered all the 64 kalas. The holistic nature of such knowledge encompassing 64 kalas can be appreciated by the fact that it included music, dance, painting, sculpture, languages and literature in addition to subjects such as engineering and mathematics as well as vocational subjects, very close to what we today refer to as liberal arts. NEP 2020 has clearly underscored the need to bring back this great Indian tradition into India’s educational system keeping in mind the modern context. A comprehensive liberal arts education develops all capacities of human beings - intellectual, aesthetic, social, physical, emotional and moral in an integrated manner. It enables the development of fundamental capacities of individuals in all aspects of being human with the objective of developing good and complete human beings. The talk will briefly discuss the best way to deliver a liberal arts education, the need for multidisciplinary environments and institutions, breaking silos within universities, creation of imaginative curriculum and pedagogy and serving as the foundational base for rigorous specialisation in chosen disciplines and fields, in order to develop deeper expertise in one or more subjects. This approach is expected to transform undergraduate education, enabling the acquisition of 21st century skills on one side, and creating a culture of collaboration across subjects to tackle local, state, national and global level issues.

Biography: Dr K. Kasturirangan is currently Chancellor, Central University of Rajasthan; Chairman, Governing Board, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA); Chairperson, NIIT University, Neemrana; Member, Atomic Energy Commission, Emeritus Professor at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore and Honorary Distinguished Advisor, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Earlier, as Chairman of ISRO, he oversaw the space programme of India between the years 1994 and 2003. He was a Member, Upper House of the Indian Parliament (2003-2009) and later Member of the erstwhile Planning Commission (2009-2014). More recently (July 2017-December 2018), he was the Chairman of the Committee that drafted the new National Education Policy. Dr. Kasturirangan is a Member of all the four National Science Academies and several International academies. Recently he has been conferred the Life Time Achievement Award, as well as Fellowship of the Karnataka Science & Technology Academy. He is a Member of the International Astronomical Union and a Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). He is the Honorary Fellow of the Cardiff University, UK and Academician of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City. Dr. Kasturirangan is the only Indian to be conferred the Honorary Membership of the International Academy of Astronautics, besides being its Vice President (2003-2005). He has won several awards including Brock Medal (2004), Allan D Emil Memorial Award (2004), Theodore Von Karman Award (2007) and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (1983) among others. He has been conferred with the highest civilian honours Padma Shri (1982), Padma Bhushan (1992) and Padma Vibhushan (2000) by the President of India, the Rajyotsava Prashasthi (2014) from Government of Karnataka and Award of ‘Officer of the Legion d’honneur’ (2002) by the President of the French Republic, France.