‘Liberal Arts and Sciences in the 21st Century


Ashoka University, pioneers in Liberal arts and Science Education organized an ‘Open House’  on ‘Liberal Arts and Sciences in the 21st Century’. The session held at Abanindranath Tagore Gallery, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Kolkata highlighted the basic principles of liberal education which offers multiple tools of analysis, learning to the students in the fast-changing education system. It emphasized that it is the need to the hour to be an effective and all comprehensive student with a skill set of critical writing, critical reading and communication and thereby offering a critical understanding of every situation. It further highlighted that beyond the conventional methods of learning, the ability to create new perspectives must be encouraged in every student along with other ways of interactive experiential learning.

Leading Novelist and academician, Dr. Saikat Majumdar, Professor of English & Creative Writing and Mr. Vineet Sabharwal, Director – Admissions & Financial Aid, Ashoka University organized a Q/A session with the students on Saikat Majumdar’s new book, College: Pathways of Possibility which focusses on higher education system. During the discussion, a broader, more conceptual “liberal arts” education perspective and the future of colleges was discussed.

Dr. Majumdar’s book “College: Pathways of Possibility” shares insights on what are the avenues of postsecondary educational experience available to the student in India today and why there is a rising need for college education be tailored to one’s specific talents and meaningful to the world at the same time. Author also highlights in the book that education no longer is the consumption of existing knowledge verifiable through examinations.

The interactive session also highlighted that contrary to popular notion, liberal arts is not just an education only in ‘arts’. It is a broad subject encompassing humanities, social sciences and applied sciences. The classical definition of liberal arts is that it provides an education that prepares students as citizens of good democracy, citizens who understand society, can engage in debate, who are ethical and committed to public service.

Speaking on the open house, Dr. Saikat Majumdar, Professor of English & Creative Writing, Ashoka University said, “A Liberal arts education, combines a degree of horizontal range in all disciplines, from the quantitative to the qualitative, with deep vertical depth in one or sometimes two disciplines. It is a broad, rich and well-rounded education..”

Adding further, Mr.Vineet Sabharwal, Director – Admissions & Financial Aid, Ashoka University speaking at the open house session said “ Knowledge is expanding and changing at a lightning pace and knowledge  is the  differentiator for anyone today. The ability to learn quickly in an unambiguous changing world, to bring in multiple perspectives is what we need to strive for. We need to understand how to think further.

Each student is a creator of his/ her own pathway and each student has an individual pathway and it is important that students are offered combination of multiple tools of analysis, reasoning and thinking “


The Open house further encouraged the audience on the on the need for critical writing and communication skills for every student and how everyone needs to expand not just the knowledge but build an overall understanding about subjects. Our system teaches students “What to think” but we at Ashoka University help and teach students “How to think” at the same time provide a more encouraging environment to pursue multi-disciplinary courses.