Apr 04

Conference highlights

Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilikani, Chairman of Unique Identity Authorization of India (UIDAI), Former CEO of Infosys

     – Keynote Speaker

Click here for video clip: Opening Plenary – Nilekani

“I personally believe that getting our higher education act together is the single biggest catalyst for India to realize its demographic dividend. Conversely, if we don’t do it well, I think, as we all know, we will have a demographic disaster or a demographic burden.”


Ramachandra Guha

Ramachandra Guha – Author and Historian

Click here for video clip: Pluralism in the Indian University – R. Guha

“The Indian Universities are great agents of Nationalism.. they are also crucial agents of democracy. What forms of pluralism must an indian unverisity sustain? … pluralism in the student body… pluralism in the teaching staff… pluralism of disciplines…  pluralism of approaches within a discipline…and finally, a pluralslism in funding sources.”



Pramath Sinha, Founding Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University

     – Plenary Speaker

Click here for video clip:  Ashoka University – Overview and Vision

“We have a very simple vision… my co-foudners and I want to create a university that sets the benchmark for what could be a great university out of India. We want to make sure that this university is known for producing graduates that are not best in the world, but are also best for the world.”




Raj Kumar – Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University

     – Plenary Speaker

Click here for video clip: O.P. Jindal Global University – Context and Vision

“The contemporary debates about Indian Universities have arose in the context that not one of the Indian Universities is in the top 200 in the world… we have nearly 680+ universities in India, we have over 40,000 colleges, and Indian higher education is rapidly expanding. While in terms of its volume, it may sound quite significant, but the gross enrollment ratio is quite weak.”




Anurag Behar, Founding Vice Chancellor, Azim Premji University

     – Plenary Speaker

Click here for video clip: Azim Premji University – Origins and Motivations

“How do we contribute toward a better society?.. a more just, more equitable and more humane society?..  this led to the expansion of the idea of the university from working only on school education kind of stuff to anything that involves broadly human development – health and nutrition, governance, politics, environment, ecology…”


Soumak Raychaudhury

Somak Raychaudhury, Dean of Faculty, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Presidency University, Kolkata

Click here for video clip: Science in Liberal Arts – Raychaudhury

“Can we come up with models in which we can  induct science in liberal arts programs which would fit a low cost model that Indian universities must adopt ? One thing Priya (Prof. Priya Natarajan, Dept of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University) has mentioned is that teaching quantitative nature of interpretation is very important in the humanities and the sciences can come through laboratory exercises.”


Nikhil Sinha

Nikhil Sinha, Vice Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University

Click here for video clip: Common Curric GenEd – N. Sinha

“The idea is we open up this world of knowledge to you, now you take it from here to where you want to go, and I think that’s where the challenge still lies for us. Are we teaching these courses in a pedagogy that is consistent with the objectives of a liberal arts program, however you describe it?”



David Oxtoby

David Oxtoby, President, Pomona College

Click here for video clip: Pomona College, D. Oxtoby

“It’s not just about professional training for particular jobs. It’s thinking about the role and the value of the entire student, their personal development as well as their intellectual development, that’s a core aspect of a residential, liberal arts college in the United States.”


Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan

Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, Professor & Director, South Asian Studies and India Initiative, Yale University

Click here for video clip:  Liberal and International Education at Yale – K. Sivaramakrishnan

“The challenge, as former Yale president Levin noted, is to become a truly global university educating leaders and advancing the frontiers of knowledge  not simply for the United States but for the entire world. And it  is in that spirit that several of are here to work with colleagues from India and other institutions in the US.”


Hiram Chodosh

Hiram Chodosh, President, Claremont McKenna College

Click here for video clip:  Global Liberal Arts Imperative – H. Chodosh

“Ultimately what we’re after is not the growth and success of the institution but the growth and success of those that the institution serves or serves indirectly by its example.”



Dec 22

Interactive PDF program for conference

We have created a PDF file which includes the final conference program, along with links to presenter biographies, and the various institutions represented. You can download this program at the link below, and it is also available at http://www.astro.pomona.edu/blog/mohra/program.

Interactive PDF file with program, biographies, and institution descriptions: 



Aug 19

Conference Schedule

The meeting schedule is now released by our organizing committee. The opening reception will be on the evening of January 6, 2014, followed by full day sessions  at the Raman Research Institute on January 7, and a full day session at the Indian Institute of Human Settlements on January 8. Evening receptions and dinners at the RRI and at the IIHS will occur on January 7 and 8, with a half-day session on January 9 at the RRI. You can download this schedule is available in our “prospectus” document (linked below), which also describes the goals of the meetings and gives details about our keynote speakers, the organizing committee and confirmed attendees.

liberal.arts.in.india.conference.prospectus.1.6.14 (PDF).

Jul 28

Keynote Speaker – Ramachandra Guha

Ramachandra Guha, noted Indian historian, columnist, philosopher and author, will be delivering a keynote address at the “Future of Liberal Arts in India” on January 7, 2014. Mr. Guha studied at St. Stephen’s College, the Delhi School of Economics, and the Indian Institute of Management at Kolkata, where he wrote a doctoral thesis on the history and prehistory of the Chipko movement. Now a full-time writer, he has previously taught at the universities of Yale and Stanford, held the Arné Naess Chair at the University of Oslo, and been the Sundaraja Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Science. Mr. Guha is a prolific and profound author of many books on topics ranging from history, politics, anthropology and cricket. Titles of books authored or co-authored by Mr. Guha include  Environmentalism: A Global HistorySavaging the Civilized: Verrier Elwin, His Tribals, and India, The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalya, A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport, Last Liberal and Other Essays, Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia, and several other titles.

More information about Mr. Guha is available at:



Jul 28

Keynote Speaker – Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani, entrepreneur, former CEO of Infosys, Inc. and currently chair of two key Indian government committees on technology (the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects – TAGUP – and the UIDAI committee), will deliver a keynote speech to our “Future of Liberal Arts in India” conference on January 9, 2014. Mr. Nilekani was CEO of Infosys, Inc., from 2002 and 2007, and presided over the growth of this company as it expanded to over 80,000 employees and surpassed a worth of $30 billion, making it India’s third largest IT-based company. Mr. Nilekani’s book Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation sets forth a number of bold ideas about the future of India, and his contributions to the discussion of India in popular culture include frequent speaking engagements, TED talks and even an appearance on the Jon Stewart Daily Show.  We are excited he will be joining our conference and addressing our group with his vision about the Future of Liberal Arts Education in India!

More information about Mr. Nilekani is available at:




Jun 16

A Meeting of Innovative New Institutions of Higher Education in India and beyond

The newly founded Ashoka University, O.P. Jindal University, the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, and the Young India Fellowship will all be participating, with their founding members and leaders presenting each of their conceptions of new forms of education for India. Other exciting new institutions like the Nalanda University, Shiv Nadar University, the Azim Premji schools and University, and FLAME have been invited, and should also be represented. These innovative new institutions will present their vision of higher education, followed by a dialog about how these institutions can expand, collaborate, and work towards common goals of improving education and empowerment within India of the next generation of India’s leaders.
Within the group will be some other participants such as representatives from Yale (including Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, director of South Asian studies at Yale and several Yale faculty working on South Asian topics), from the new Yale-NUS College in Singapore (which has developed a new common liberal arts curriculum that has a “great works” track including both Asian and Western works, and an integrated science curriculum), and from Pomona College, and the Claremont Colleges in California.
The meeting is all about innovation in liberal arts education (broadly defined) with new curriculum, new institutions and new approaches that are responsive to the needs of society and of India, and that can create dynamic, creative thinkers who will become the next generation of leaders.

Mar 08

Liberal Arts in the 21st Century

With the advent of online courses, and new technologies, liberal arts and residential education are enjoying a surprising renaissance in the world. Liberal Arts Education is one that provides a chance to explore broadly across all areas of knowledge, in an interactive and engaging way. We have assembled a great set of readings and resources to help define liberal arts education in this new age and will engage in a discussion in our meeting with a diverse group of thought leaders.  How can curriculum be re-imagined to be more interdisciplinary? more responsive to the needs of modern India? more relevant to society and to the challenges of today?

Perhaps liberal arts is resurgent because the deepest questions that all human beings need to answer never change, and perhaps students have an increasing need for wisdom and deep knowledge in a world that is awash with information. What are the key elements of a liberal arts or residential education? How do they promote critical thinking? leadership? happiness?  And what is the role of online education in this new era of MOOCs – and how should our curriculum respond to provide the best  possible education for the 21st century?  We will discuss these questions and more in our meeting.

Mar 08

Online Education and MOOCs

How will online education change higher education in India, and in the world?  What elements exist within India to lead this revolution, and use it to maximize the effectiveness of instruction and the access to higher education within the country. We will discuss these topics and more at our conference. For an excellent overview of the state of online education, please check our page on Online Ed and MOOCs, which contains the materials suggested for attendees to the online education summit entltled “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education” sponsored by Harvard and MIT on March 3 and 4, 2011.  India is a leader in IT technology and has its own domestic online education system known as NPTEL – how can India make best use of these massive changes in learning?

Feb 28

Innovative Thought and Education Leaders

Our conference has enlisted a group of the most innovative thought leaders and educators from India and the United States. Below is a list of some of the speakers who will be participating. 

  • Dr. Pramath Sinha, Founder and Vice Chancellor, Ashoka University; Director, Young India Fellowship (will bring a team from Ashoka University)
  • Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, Co-Director, Program in Agrarian Studies; and Chair, South Asian Studies Council, Yale University
  • Dr. Aromar Revi, Founder and Director of the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (will also come with a small group)
  • Dr. Raj Kumar, Founder and Vice Chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University (with a small group)
  • Mr. Dileep Ranjekar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation
  • Mr. Anand Sudarshan, Founder and Director, Sylvant, and former Director, Manipal Global Education
  • Prof. Venu Narayan, Azim Premji University
  • Mr. Madan Padaki, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Head Held High Foundation, Bangalore
  • Dr. Rishikesha Krishnan, entrepreneur, author and professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
  • Dr. Laurie Patton, Sanskritist, and Dean of Arts and Sciences, Duke University
  • Dr Satish Inamdar: Director, Krishnamurti Foundation, Bangalore
  • Dr. Rajeev Patke:  Director of Humanities at Yale-NUS College, Singapore
  • Dr. David Drew: Former Dean of Claremont Graduate Education School, renowned expert on science and math education
  • Ms. Akshata Murty:  Trustee and alumna of Claremont McKenna College, entrepreneur, and CEO.
  • Dr. Bernard Bate: Yale anthropology professor; expert on education and oratory in Southern India
  • Dr. Supriya Chaudhuri, Jadavpur University, Kolkata – involved in forming Tagore University, and prolific author
  • Dr. K P Mohanan, IISER Pune – founder of center of Integrative Studies, who has worked on a number of issues related to liberal arts
  • Dr. Cyrus Vakil: Deputy Head of College / Director of Studies, UWC, Pune
  • Ms. Nivedita Narain: PRADAN (NGO), Program Director
  • Dr. Anup Kumar Dhar: School of Human Studies at Ambedkar University, Delhi
  • Dr. Usha Rajaram, Director of Learning, UWC Mahindra College, Pune
  • Ms. Seetha Ananthasivan: editor of the Bhoomi magazine, Founder of Bhoomi Network, Aastha Foundation and Prakriya Green Wisdom School, Bangalore
  • Dr. Bryan Penprase: Pomona College, ACE Fellow, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Astrophysicist, author and educator.

Feb 28

New Directions for Indian Higher Education

Across India, new initiatives are adopting a liberal arts model and implementing new styles of teaching. Some exciting new institutions include the Ashoka University, http://ashoka.edu.in/ , the O.P. Jindal Global University,http://www.jgu.edu.in/ , the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in Bangalore, http://www.iihs.co.in/ , Tagore University in Pune, http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pune-to-get-india-first-ever-liberal-arts-college/1/210936.html, the new Symbiosis School for liberal arts, http://www.ssla.edu.in. Other initiatives that help create new NGOs and train students in constructive techniques for changing society, such as the new program in Development Practice, developed by Ambedkar University of Delhi and PRADAN. Our meeting at the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, will include leaders from some of these new initiatives in India and abroad, and a chance to share some of the results of these exciting new programs.