Students with facilitator Alice Lowson

Humanities students’ Grand Challenge to explore India

Ten students from The College of Humanities have been offered the exciting opportunity to experience India’s rich and diverse history and culture, for one week at Jain University, Bangalore.

The students are taking part in ‘Grand Challenges’ a University–wide programme for first year students.  Grand Challenges is designed to provide students with the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary research groups, with access to top academics and inspirational world leading experts to produce solutions and ideas to address some of the key dilemmas of our 21st Century.

The students, who depart from Exeter on Saturday 1 June, will be exploring the theme of 'Cultural Patrimony and its Preservation - what does the past have to contribute to the identity of India today?’.  In a series of timetabled activities, which begin each day with a yoga class,  the students will study Indian psychology, culture, cinema, indigenous games and British legacy in Bangalore, and will undertake visits to Bangalore’s thriving art galleries, temples, and other areas of outstanding history and traditional culture.

Through these sessions, they will seek to answer their dilemma, a question that could be asked of any country confronting the 21st century as technological development accelerates, people increasingly cross borders and new forms of working and living become accepted. These sessions will explore the many aspects of India today, how its citizens go about their daily lives, the food they eat, the technologies they use and the media they consume. 

The students will be guided by Professor Choodamani, Professor and Dean of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, and Dr. Soumya Manjunath-Chavan, Artist and Head of Visual Arts at Jain University, Bangalore.  Professor Choodamani and Dr. Soumya visited the College of Humanities in December 2012 to deliver the College’s first lecture in the Art History and Visual Culture Lecture Series which now run throughout the year, highlighting the University’s development of this area of teaching and research.

In addition, the students will be supported by Exeter post doctoral Archaeology student Alice Lowson, who has gained vast experience of Indian Culture nurtured through her current programme of study, a split-site PhD between Exeter and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bangalore.

Alice comments, “The dilemma we are looking at 'Cultural Patrimony and its Preservation' is a very broad topic to be tackling in the space of ten days! I anticipate that the students will really try to engage with the problems and conflicts in the field of heritage management, and will appreciate the way different cultures might approach these problems in different ways. I hope the experience raises more questions for them than it answers!."

The group will be encouraged to explore these concepts and to discuss whether an understanding of history and traditional culture have a part to play in a contemporary community's identity.  They will then present their findings on their return to Exeter.

Elizabeth Ann Staiano, BA English student undertaking the visit adds, “I'm excited about going on this trip - it will be a completely new experience, one outside of my comfort zone and it will allow me the opportunity to completely immerse myself within Indian culture and make new friends in the process!".

Date: 30 May 2013

Read more University News