A plea for introducing interdisciplinary collaboration into the curriculum at multiple levels of education in order to enable students to participate in the development of convergent technologies was made by S.R. Rao, Adviser, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Delivering the Convocation Address at the 9th Annual Convocation of Thiruvalluvar University held at the Auxilium College here on Wednesday, Dr. Rao said in the present curriculum subjects were segregated into Mathematics, Botany, Zoology, Economics, Civics and Sociology.

Expertise essential

Deep knowledge and experience in disciplines like Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science and Cognitive Science are essential for students to take part in the development of convergent technologies.

“While our current education system is oriented towards this kind of specialist training, some students will also need to acquire interactional expertise necessary to facilitate collaboration across interdisciplinary zones. This skill is difficult to foster in the standard curriculum. It is because if a student has registered for biotechnology or some other domain subject, the university/institute sets the boundaries”.

The DBT Adviser said that while taking pictures using a cell phone and surfing the Web on a television constitute some examples of technology convergence around us. Changes are also taking place in nutrition products, health care and energy where technologies and distinct knowledge bases are changing and converging.

Converging technologies

Perhaps the most dramatic example of such convergence is in the booming space of telecommunications, information technology, media and entertainment.

Tremendous human progress becomes possible through converging technologies stimulated by advances in four core fields, i.e., Nanotechnology,

Biotechnology, Information Technology, and new technologies based in Cognitive Science (NBIC).

Dr. Rao said that the in its 12th Five-Year Plan, the University Grants Commission has focused on a threefold strategy of expansion, equity and excellence for higher education. It has identified revitalization of the State universities and colleges as a critical component of the Plan.

Pilot projects

“To improve the quality of education and learning, UGC is proposing pilot projects of Innovation Universities giving them considerable autonomy and freedom and supplementing these with the creation of Centres of Excellence in existing Universities”, he said.

K. Rosaiah, Governor of Tamil Nadu and Chancellor of Thiruvalluvar University presided over the Convocation. He administered the pledge and distributed medals and degrees to the rank holders.

P. Gunasekaran, Vice-Chancellor of Thiruvalluvar University said that the University has received a grant of Rs.483.32 lakhs from the Tamil Nadu government for constructing a building at the Thiruvalluvar University Constituent Arts ad Science College, Arakkonam, a sum of Rs.121.27 lakhs has been sanctioned for recurring and non-recurring expenditure to the Thiruvalluvar University Constituent Model Arts and Science College Thittakudi, Rs.44.03 lakhs to purchase land for constructing a permanent building for the University Constituent Arts and Science College in Kallakurichi, and Rs.141.66 lakhs for the construction of a building for the University Constituent Model Arts and Science College at Tirupattur.

A total number of 30,380 candidates were awarded degrees in person and in absentia at the convocation.

They included 15,259 undergraduate candidates, 3556 postgraduate candidates, 1528 M.Phil. candidates and 37 Ph.D. candidates. A total of 35 undergraduate and 18 postgraduate candidates were given prizes.