October, 2016

Eminent Faculty join Ashoka University

By Diksha Dutta

Ashoka University has added renowned faculty members from across the globe to further the University’s overall academic offerings. These faculty members are not only well-known for their contributions and the impact they have made in their respective fields, they are also famed for their ability to inspire students with original ideas.

“This is an exciting time to be a student at Ashoka. We have significantly increased our faculty strength from last year. This year, we are also offering subjects like Creative Writing for the first time, as well as offering popular new Concentrations in Film Studies and Linguistics,” said Jonathan Gil Harris, Dean of Academic Affairs at Ashoka University.

Among other eminent names, Professor and Historian Nayanjot Lahiri from Delhi University, and Malabika Sarkar from Presidency College Calcutta are now associated with Ashoka University. Sixty odd faculty members have joined the University this year. Professor Lahiri who joined Ashoka in January this year and teaches History recalls, “I was attracted to the vice-chancellor’s (Rudrangshu Mukherjee) offer because it gave me a chance to teach different kinds of courses, and embark on an adventure of sorts.”

There is a personal connect that most of the faculty members feel with the concept of Liberal Arts. Vinay Sitapati, Assistant Professor, Political Science at Ashoka University has an undergraduate degree in Law, which also included Sociology and Administrative Policy. Sitapati, a former journalist who is in the process of completing his Ph.D. dissertation at Princeton University, says “I wasn’t sure what I was coming to the country as – as an academician, a lawyer or a journalist? I heard about Ashoka three-four years ago. My interests are wide-ranging- Law, Journalism, and Politics. And in Ashoka, I can actually teach all three. Here, I can just be myself. I’m a lawyer, I’m a political scientist, I’m a journalist and each of these three things teaches me stuff. I don’t see these three things have any contradictions. To me, that way, Ashoka is a perfect fit.”

Dario Darji, Professor, Mathematics, Ashoka University has his reasons to come to India: “I had never been to India and I thought it would be fun to get an interesting gig in India for a year. I wasn’t really interested in IIT’s or ISI’s. I was looking for something unique. I saw an advertisement for Ashoka and I thought this could be it! The idea of a unique liberal arts university with very bright students was appealing.  In the past month that I’ve been here, I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching here. The students are bright, enthusiastic and fun! I look forward to teaching every class meeting. I expect Ashoka to grow into a first class liberal art institute within the next 5 or 10 years.”

New faculty

(From left to right ) Janice Pariat, Saikat Majumdar, Nayanjot Lahiri, Vinay Sitapati, K. Hatiharan and Geeta Chanda

Ashoka is a place where professors encourage students to follow their passion not only inside the classroom but outside as well. K Hariharan, Professor of Film Studies and Broadcast Television, Ashoka University says: “In my long years of filmmaking and professional teaching, this is for the first time that I am meeting with students of a Liberal Arts college. I see great value in creating awareness about the intricacies that make the popular art form called cinema so significant in the creation of our modern identities.” He says that Film Studies is all about empowering and unleashing the latent emotional powers invested in each one of us, over long years of viewing, in order to articulate important social discourses in more meaningful ways. “I hope every student can sharpen her or his communication skills in more innovative ways thanks to the discussions they partake in my classes. My four weeks at Ashoka has made me see the true value of holistic education in the way students are made to see a variety of subjects in complex and interconnected manners,” he adds.

It is true that the community of Ashoka faculty attracts each other to this great learning space.

Aditi Sriram, Assistant Professor, Writing, Ashoka University concludes, “I chose Ashoka University because of how energized its students and faculty are. Everyone has come here on some kind of mission — to discover themselves, their passion, their mentors, or their disciples. It makes for a great work environment! ”


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