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Report of the first workshop on “Questions of Curriculum, Pedagogy, and the Market”

Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, 5-6 April 2012

Suman Gupta and Richard Allen

There are two parts to this report. The first gives a panel-by-panel account of proceedings, emphasizing the main points raised in each. In each panel a number of participants were invited to make brief presentations, these were then discussed, and at the end a summary of the discussion as a whole was given by a discussant. The second part identifies issues that arose repeatedly in the workshop, which call for further discussion and exploration.

The Workshop proceeded as a discussion among its expert participants, rather than as a sequence of formal papers. Participants spoke briefly from their expertise, gearing their comments to the discussion. In some cases they spoke ex tempore, in some cases using preliminary notes. This document collects together these notes where they have been provided and should be seen as an adjunct to the Report of the Workshop “Questions of Curriculum, Pedagogy and the Market.

Report for Workshop 2: Indian English Studies in a Changing World

15-16 February 2013, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi

Suman Gupta and Richard Allen

This report is in two parts. The first offers a session-by-session account of discussions. Each session was focused on a theme and a limited number of questions. Though a few brief presentations were invited in most of the sessions, the emphasis throughout was on free-flowing discussion of the session questions. The workshop was chaired throughout by Richard Allen; Suman Gupta had principal responsibility for the record of the sessions. The main points made by discussants (identified by their initials) in each session is summarised. The second part presents some general remarks on the proceedings of the two workshops together which seem significant to the authors of this report.

Report for Workshop 3: English Studies in Britain and India: comparative perspectives

 13-14 July 2013,  The Open University in London, UK

 This workshop considered again questions and issues discussed in the previous workshops but adds a comparative dimension, so that findings about English Studies in the UK can be set alongside the results of the findings about English Studies in Delhi.

Further Investigation

Topic: English Studies and the Delhi University Four Year Undergraduate Programme

Research undertaken January to April 2014, including a further visit to Delhi, April 2nd to 17th.

Introduction

Delhi University implemented a shift from a three-year to a four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) for all disciplines from the academic year 2013-14, when the main part of this project was coming to a close. The FYUP introduces compulsory Foundation Courses in a range of subject areas alongside Discipline Courses for the first two years of undergraduate programmes. Specialist discipline study is offered mostly in years 3 and 4. Exit points linked to a nesting hierarchy of awards are introduced from year 2: exit after two years of successful study leads to a Diploma; after three years, a Bachelors ordinary degree; after four years, a Bachelors degree with honours. Details are given in the Delhi University website, and in the Further Investigation document below. 

The potential impact of this change for English Studies had been referred to in some of the workshops  of the project (see Workshop Reports), but this was ahead of the detail of the new courses and structures being known. The Project Coordinators felt that the change justified further investigation. With the permission of the Arts and Humanities Research Council this has been possible and the results are recorded here. 

Four questions were devised as the core of the further enquiry. They were: 

  1. In your view, why was a change from three-year to four-year undergraduate programmes made at DU?
  2. Given your teaching experience in the first year of the four-year programme’s implementation, how would you describe the experience of students who have engaged with the foundation level courses in 2013-2014?
  3. As a teacher of English, what bearing has this change had or is this change likely to have on the subject area?
  4. Should similar restructuring of undergraduate programmes be implemented more widely in Indian higher education? 

These questions were used in three different contexts: i.e. 

  • as a simple questionnaire asking for free text responses (This was circulated through the Delhi University English Teachers forum with the aim of prompting responses from as wide as possible of the 46 colleges (out of the total of 81 affiliated colleges) offering BA (Hons) English programmes.)

  • as the basis for a series of more in-depth interviews

  • to gather views from outside Delhi University 

The results are summarised below.

Questionnaire

Twelve responses were received to the questionnaire. The small number of responses is partly accounted for by the fact that the FYUP is still in its first year and teachers are understandably cautious in predicting its effects. The rapid introduction of the FYUP has also understandably been controversial. Respondents were initially asked to indicate whether they wished to keep their names confidential, and a majority had requested this. However, the adoption of a Professional Code of Ethics by the Executive Committee of Delhi University on 6 March 2014 has blurred the boundaries of academic freedom and the Project Coordinators have therefore decided to remove all details which might allow respondents to be identified. It can be said, however, that the responses received reflect experience in eleven colleges, and that those colleges do reflect something of the range (if not the complete range) within Delhi University

The responses received are set out verbatim in this linked document:

The Coordinators welcome further responses to these questions from Delhi University college teachers and will add them to those in the document above as and when received – names will be treated as confidential for all responses. Please send further responses to either Suman Gupta or Richard Allen.

In-depth interviews

A report based on the discussions in these in-depth interviews is available in this linked document:

Views from outside Delhi University 

Three of the questions above (1, 3, 4) were also circulated to English Departments in other Delhi-based universities. Delhi University teachers and students often move between universities in Delhi in various capacities, so the implications of the change at Delhi University is likely to be felt more widely in universities in the region. Four responses were received from other Delhi-based universities, which appear in the PDF document through the link below.

Prospects for English Studies: India and Britain Compared is funded by

The Arts and Humanities Research Council