To many of us, liberal arts means a little of everything as opposed to concentrating on a core subject, which is a norm at Indian institutes. But liberal arts is much more than this, asserts Kathleen Modrowski, Professor and Dean, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities (JSLH), OP Jindal Global University, Sonepat, Haryana, NCR Region. “While it is true that students study a variety of subjects at JSLH, the curriculum also strives to induce inquiry, explain human activity, teach how to express one’s self beyond words, communicate effectively and get along with other students,” says Modrowski.
OP Jindal Global University began in 2009 and the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Humanities was started this year.
The course structure
In its pilot year, the BA Hons in Liberal Arts and Humanities at JSLH is offered in partnership with Rollins College, US. Students would spend two years at JSLH, followed by a year at Rollins to get a BA degree endorsed by JSLH. Upon completing one more year at Rollins, students can get two degrees — one from JSLH and one from Rollins. The subjects at JSLH include Mathematics, History, Literature, Economics, Philosophy, Languages (Mandarin and Spanish), Life Sciences, Psychology and Political Science. Rollins also offers students a number of majors in the above subjects plus Computer Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Religious Studies, Business Education and Environmental Sciences to name a few. OP Jindal University has also collaborated with 60 plus international schools including Yale, Harvard and Cornell for student exchange and other initiatives.
Fee and intake
JSLH believes in keeping the class numbers compact and therefore the cap on intake is 18 for the BA programme. “Classes more or less follow a seminar or conference model,” says Rhea Kuthoore, a Liberal Arts student. For every class/subject, there are two professors — one Indian and an expat — so that students can get the best of both worlds, says Sean P Bala, faculty member.
“JSLH takes pride in the mix of Indian and international tutors. There are some illustrious persons including Kathleen who have had world-class education at reputed institutes like Harvard, University of California-Los Angeles, Oxford, Columbia and such. Again, these people have been associated teachers at premier institutes around the world,” beams C Raj Kumar, Founding Vice-Chancellor, OP Jindal. Perhaps to that extent, the fee structure is justified. It costs `7.5 lakh a year to study the Liberal Arts programme and this includes hostel, mess and other expenses. Students intending to study at Rollins need to take care of the expenses involved for their American sojourn like fee, accommodation and such. Students with over 90 per cent in their respective boards are given a waiver of `1.5 lakh; students of Haryana with similar scores get `3 lakh waiver.
Course evaluation takes into account a number of parameters, says faculty member, Cameron Paxton. “We rely, of course, on class participation, attendance, semester project, presentations and final examinations.” Not just the curriculum, but OP Jindal has a “liberal” atmosphere too — students needn’t adhere to a dress code, though it’s a bummer considering the cold climate, and cell phones needn’t be tucked away with the possible exception of when in class.
Activities on campus
There are about 1,700 students on campus in the five faculties of the University — Liberal Arts, Law, Business, International Affairs, and Government and Public Policy. For a huge campus that spans 80 acres, the student strength seems small, and sometimes things get dull, as a student, Kashik Chadha, points out. “All of us are from different parts of the country and it does get homesick at times. The ones staying in Delhi, which is around 45 kms from here, go home for the weekend. The rest of us make do with the sports and other facilities on campus. We have theatre and other cultural clubs to engage in with peers. We recently held Biswamil, a cultural festival, which was entirely run by the student body here and it was fun engaging with students from other colleges.”
Students also have access to a well-stocked library, gymnasium and other facilities. “We don’t insist on students bringing their books to the classroom. All the content is available online ,” chips in faculty member R Krishnaswamy.
Admissions are based on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score, a personal statement and personal interviews. Details at www.jslh.edu.in.