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Foundational Courses at SoLS

The foundational courses are designed to offer students a strong initiation into the realm of liberal arts. They encompass a wide spectrum of subjects, spanning from self-awareness to comprehending the shaping of the world around them. The proficiencies acquired from these foundational courses will be subsequently applied and honed in their chosen major and minor pursuits. At BMU, the BA(H) in Liberal Arts is firmly rooted in our Foundational Courses (FCs).

South Asia in Global History: 

This is a survey course that aims to introduce students to the various historical processes that shaped the society, culture, economy and political landscapes of South Asia over two millennia, and especially over the last 1000 years. From ancient times, South Asia had been an important space in a wider world, forming Asia’s vast land bridge between the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean. In fact we realise that after 1500 it becomes even more impractical to separate social change in South Asia from histories that travel the globe. The boundaries that now appear to define the South Asian region and its constituent nation states came into being only recently.Therefore in studying social change in South Asia, including its economic, political, and cultural dimensions, the course will pay attention to the mobility of people, commodities and ideas that have played an important role in shaping the histories of this region.

Reason and Logic:

‘This sentence is false’. Is that true or false? In this course, students will come up with their own solutions to these by developing their own, precise languages. Further, students will learn to evaluate logics, and see how the history and culture of different parts of the world have shaped thought about logic and reason.

Writing Seminar I & II:

This is a two-semester sequence that aims to help students trust their writing process and with time and practice, develop their unique authorial voice. Critical reading, thinking, writing and speaking are the primary skills that define a Liberal Studies student. The courses are premised on intensive reading, open discussion, active listening, and a commitment to the writing and rewriting process. We will learn that good writing is ultimately an individual and collective effort that stems from the ability to read closely, give and receive feedback with care, and revise drafts. We will pay attention to the multiple meanings and implications of words, how sources are furnished as evidence, styles of narration and the construction of compelling arguments.

Self and Identity:

The course elaborates the relationship between self and identity by posing some broad questions: What constitutes our private, psychic world? How is the psychic world related to the socio-political world in which we live with others? Why do we identify with certain groups and not with others? What do desire, fantasy, love and hate have to do with how we experience the self and the world? We will also try to understand what makes us both unique and normative as individuals and how we navigate class, caste, gender and sexual identities, as well as our personal prejudices and biases in our everyday lives. Through experiential exercises we will reflect on some fundamental questions such as, “Who am I?”; “What makes me, me?”; “How do I relate to myself/others/events?”. We will also analyse selected films and fictional texts to pay attention to how they portray entanglements between psychic, social and historical worlds.

India and Its Environs:

What does it mean to be Indian? Who are “we,” and how are we connected? Students will draw on environmental science and social sciences to understand the land, nation and people around them, and deeper: where these ideas of identity come from, what role they play in society, and what they mean.

Research Methods:

In the modern world, anyone who wants to change society for the better must be able to read and understand what constitutes data. This course introduces students to qualitative methods of conducting research and to statistics and data science.

Paradigms in Science:

In this course, students will learn to apply their skills in the liberal arts to understanding science. Delving into science textbooks and historical scientific research papers, they will come to their own conclusions to questions such as: How does the scientific method work? Does science deserve its social prestige? What is the relationship between beauty and truth? How do we interpret the correct interpretation of Quantum Mechanics? Are scientific theories true, or merely useful instruments? Why did Copernicus’s idea develop as it did? By the end of the course, students should be able and comfortable in working towards critically evaluating scientific claims.

Majors at a Glance

BA (Hons) in Liberal Arts with a Sociology Major

The Sociology major in the BA (Hons) Liberal Arts programme will train students to grapple with social structures and understand what constitutes social processes by being able to analyse and map social interactions, inequalities and asymmetries of power in a historical and political context. The Sociology Major will equip students to inculcate a sociological perspective in understanding and unpacking social problems in society today, but also learn how to make sense of the past as it shapes systemic realities and inequalities in the contemporary context. Studying Sociology will enable students to locate the self in relation to the social systems, structures, and institutions around us – in the local, national, and global contexts. In a world where social problems are often conceptualised through the frame of common sense, our programme aims to bring a rigorous disciplinary training to our students to systematically study the social issues that affect individuals and communities.
The programme allows students to develop a sociological training orientation/bent of mind by focusing on four key baskets/axes of scholarship:

1) Sociological theory,

2) Methodology,

3) Sociological themes and,

4) A range of specialised electives.

The four axes will train students to read reflectively, think critically and write with an understanding that combines theoretical nuance with methodological rigour underlined by a sense of historical continuity. A major in Sociology at SoLS would equip the students to find fulfilling careers that demand analytical thinking and the ability to understand social problems and offer policy suggestions.

The core courses in a sociology major would include: Reading Sociological Theory with modern Indian and Western sociologists and social-political thinkers, Research Methodology that will incorporate archival, ethnographic and quantitative methods, Thematics in Sociology that will include Sociological Movements in gender, religion, caste, and tribe; Family, Kinship and Youth; State, Society and Institutions; Work, Labour and Migration; Capitalism and Modernity; Environment and Sustainability; Culture and Society, and a range of Electives based on faculty expertise and research interests like Sociology of Education, Sociology of Childhood and Youth, Politics of Body and Self-fashioning, Visual Culture, History of Science and Agrarian Ecology, amongst others.

BA (Hons) in Liberal Arts with a Psychology Major

A Major in Psychology will lay a strong foundation for the student to develop a thorough understanding about psychic processes. It will train them to start reflecting on their own self as well as develop an attitude of listening to the other in an empathic, non-judgmental and yet critical manner. The student will learn to examine how psychic processes are deeply entwined with group processes. It will train them read texts critically and write reflexively by formulating their own questions and thoughts about texts as well as experiential themes related to individual and community life. Broadly, the course will orient the student to understand and assess cognitive and behavioural processes; to appreciate the complexity of psychic life; and to understand the psychic undercurrents of cultural, social and political phenomena.

The core courses in Psychology Major will focus on areas such as: theories of self and personality; listening and communicating; cognition and behaviour; unconscious psychic processes; psycho-sexual development; biopsychology; social psychology; psychological distress and therapeutic approaches; identity and human subjectivity; cultures of the psyche; and research methodology. The course will culminate with a research project that the student will undertake under the supervision of the course instructor.

The course will allow the student to learn about different ways of thinking and doing Psychology, reflect critically on the discipline of Psychology itself, and to find productive intersections between Psychology and other areas of study. A Major in Psychology will equip the student to pursue a specialized field in Psychology at the Masters level. It will also prepare them to pursue allied and interdisciplinary courses in the humanities and social sciences following the completion of their undergraduate studies.

BA (Hons) in Liberal Arts with a Economics Major

The BA Liberal Arts with Economics as major seeks to train a student in understanding and engaging with the economy in a well-rounded manner. The program allows a student to learn economics within the context of other social sciences. Various sub-disciplines within Economics like Micro- and Macro-economics, Development Economics, Environmental Economics, International Economics, Political Economy, Economic History, Quantitative Analysis are introduced to the students through both theoretical and experiential approaches. The students can engage with various theoretical frames like Classical, Neo-classical, Political economy, Keynesian and Post-Keynesian, Feminist economics, Ecological economics, etc. existing within the discipline in a blended manner. The students are trained to engage with the fundamental ideas and principles in the discipline of economics.

The program aims to develop practitioners of economics with a global outlook but also well-embedded in the specific social and cultural contexts. The students are expected to develop the capacity to interrogate complex challenges like economic inequality, attaining decent standards of living, digital and financial inclusion, economic impact of climate change and other environmental changes, and many others, and develop economic policy designs addressing such challenges in a fair and ethical manner. The program will also make the students capable of engaging with the media on economic facts and phenomena. The students are equipped with the latest techniques of data analysis using Indian and international databases and other mixed methodologies appropriate for examining complex economic issues at the intersection of multiple spheres.