To many academics, it is puzzling that economics has not, in recent years, attracted keen students in south Indian colleges and universities. One is tempted to contrast this with the situation at University of Delhi where the demand for admission to the B.A.(Honours) course in economics exceeds all other programmes.
The structure and content of Economics curricula need to adjust to the changed situation, catering perceptibly to new requirements. An experiment was started a few years ago at Sri Sathya Sai University (SSSU) Prasanthinilayam, Andhra Pradesh. This might be a model for consideration and discussion by university and academic bodies elsewhere in the south.
In 1990, the Board of Studies at SSSU felt the need to recast the economics curriculum, emphasising quantitative approaches. It recommended a new stream, B.Sc. (Honours) in economics, with mathematics and statistics as combination subjects.
When the postgraduate programme was introduced in 2001, the objectives were clearly set forth: to produce scholars who attain mastery in economic theory and its applications, with a view to equip them to serve in positions of responsibility in government, international bodies, corporate sector, universities and research institutions.
To train students over a period of time, with the goal of producing socially responsible citizens.
Moreover, the curricula designed are such that more flexibility gets built-in for upgrade and improvement. To be precise, the courses offered at the postgraduate level fall into ‘core’ courses and ‘electives’. The core courses are intended to provide training in economic theory, contemporary applied economic problems including finance, public economics and quantitative methodology.
Electives or optional courses enable advanced training in the branches of their choice.
The variety of such courses offered ranges from Applied Econometrics to Forecasting Methods for Business and Economics, Economics of Education and Health, Energy economics, etc. In most of the courses the Indian Economy is kept in clear focus.
The fine element of this design is to strike a balance between rigorous training to acquire computer software and large-scale database management skills; promoting deep understanding of theories; providing a wider view of Economics as a social science.
The curriculum design incorporates subjects such as ‘Ethics, Economy and Society’.
The SSSU has created its own learning management system (called ‘e-guru’) to support all the departments. Another facet is that each student has to choose a topic of contemporary relevance for his dissertation, which is compulsory, and scheduled in the fourth semester.
The author is Reader in Economics, Sri Sathya Sai University, Vidyagiri, Prasanthinilayam
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