Delhi University responds to the global phenomenon of Humanities losing out to ‘more marketable’ disciples with a tailor-made degree from this session

With Humanities increasingly losing out to ‘more marketable’ disciplines, Delhi University (DU) is gearing up — for the first time — to face the global phenomenon with a tailor-made course, which, while building up a strong base of Humanities, will also help develop “professionalism” in a student, thus catering also to the job market.

Delhi University’s Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) has designed this course under the concept of “meta college”. The seed of the idea of “meta” education, says Sukrita Paul Kumar of CIC, was sown by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh some eight to nine months ago in a lecture. “Charged with the idea, Professor Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor of DU, has been working on the concept with a team of academics to flesh out and build up the vision creatively.” With due approvals from the highest bodies of the university, B.Tech Humanities, under the meta concept, is now being launched in the current academic session.

Talking about the programme, Paul calls this “a paradigm shift” in higher education, wherein the student gets an opportunity to “design his/ her own degree”.

“This is a four-year course for which any student enrolled in any of the 70-odd colleges of DU or SOL is eligible to apply. If selected after the entrance test and interview, he/ she gets a chance to choose any of the five streams: Journalism, Art & Design, Historical Tourism, Counselling or Education.”

She says, “We are accepting applications till August 17 and will take a written test of the applicants on August 26 followed by an interview of the selected students. At present, 40 students will be taken for the course, 20 each in the general and reserved categories. The classes will commence from the first week of September.” Throwing light on the model, she highlights the point that “everybody wants to know why this degree is called B.Tech.”

“Our answer is: Why not? We have to break away from the typical mindset of associating the idea of technology only with Engineering… this effectively sends out the message that the meaning of technology is ‘knowhow’ — knowhow of, shall we say, humanities?” Since skill development is the buzzword today, “CIC thought of promoting the idea of going beyond the fixed boundaries of disciplines of knowledge.” Academic resources are being pooled from different colleges and there is a seeking of a blend of theory and hands-on projects, problem-solving exercises and linkages with life outside the classroom. Each student will have access to one or more “professional mentors” who will regularly guide him/ her on how to use the knowledge of theory in hands-on projects. Internships and fieldwork will be an important component of the degree. Paul says, “The idea is to provide a kind of education that emphasises holistic learning and also offers a marketable degree with an edge of professionalism.”

Currently, CIC, on North Campus, is busy counselling interested students. “We have received a very good response. Till now, we have counselled over 600 students. Parents too are forming a beeline with tons of questions. The newness of the course and the fresh approach requires a lot of counselling for people to go beyond set ideas.”

The course is divided into semesters and a student can straddle colleges to pursue a course. “But it is likely that we might not allow a student to pursue more than two semesters in one college. This is to avoid overcrowding in a particular college,” she says. The students will need a minimum of 185 points and a maximum of 209 in four years to obtain the degree.

Looks like the course is just a beginning, and in coming months the meta concept will only grow from strength to strength. Though Paul is silent on it, there is a buzz that DU in collaboration with some other university might start a meta university.

(Students interested in B.Tech Humanities can download entrance exam application form from cic.du.ac.in)