On April 19, Pune based FLAME University - the pioneer of liberal education in India - announced its academic collaboration with Wellesley College, Massachusetts, United States. The collaboration aims at enhancement of academic excellence at both institutions.
Wellesley College is a private, women’s liberal arts college, ranked the fourth best liberal arts college in the United States in 2016. The college's robust alumnae base has been widely regarded as the "most powerful women's network in the world," and its graduates are often recognised as among the most responsive and accomplished of any institution. Notable alumnae of Wellesley College include Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Soong Mei-ling, Cokie Roberts, and Diane Sawyer.
Discussions of a potential association began in early 2016. Members of the Board of FLAME University had met with the senior leadership team of Wellesley College consisting of the provost, academic department heads, centre heads and the head of the office of international study at their campus in Massachusetts during Spring 2016. Commenting on the collaboration, Dr. Neelima Shukla-Bhatt, programme? director of South Asia Studies, Wellesley College, said, “FLAME is a distinctive institution of higher education founded in the philosophy of liberal arts. Wellesley and FLAME have share ideals of excellence in liberal education and we hope to strengthen our academic relationship in the near future.”
The association commenced with a pilot study abroad programme wherein three female students from FLAME University were invited to attend the Spring 2017 semester at Wellesley.
To explore the possibilities of forming a deeper academic alliance, a delegation of five members from Wellesley College, USA, visited the FLAME University campus from January 16 to 18, 2017. The delegation comprised Jennifer Thomas-Starck, director of International Study; Elizabeth Desombre, professor of Environmental Studies; Margery Sabin, professor of English; Catia Confortini, associate professor of Peace and Justice Studies; and Neelima Shukla-Bhatt, associate professor and director, South Asian Studies. During the course of their visit, the members interacted with the FLAME administrators, faculty, and students discussing various aspects of the undergraduate programme, pedagogy, assessment, and student life on campus. The members also met with individual faculty to discuss specific programmes and courses to understand teaching philosophy of FLAME and to explore areas of synergy. The visitors and FLAME faculty shared their research interests to explore possible collaborative research projects.
After in-depth discussions and exploration of various avenues for collaboration, FLAME University and Wellesley College signed a partnership that will facilitate international academic exchange, and support collaborative research activities. Under the agreement, international collaborative activities between the two institutions shall include but will not be limited to curriculum development, research collaborations, faculty exchanges, student exchanges, and conduction of experiential learning programmes, such as FLAME’s flagship Discover India Programme?, among other academic areas.
Celebrating the association, Vallabh Bhanshali, governing body member of FLAME University, commented, “We are honoured and privileged to deepen our association with Wellesley College, USA, one of the most reputed and respected liberal arts colleges in the world. The academic collaboration between FLAME and Wellesley has multiple objectives, but will primarily focus on enhancing the liberal education ethos of both the institutions. This collaboration with Wellesley reinforces our commitment to liberal education and to enhance the academic experience of students and faculty of both institutions. FLAME University has existing agreements with the most reputed institutions worldwide including Nuffield College – University of Oxford in the United Kingdom; Babson College and Yale University in the United States; and York University in Canada. The academic collaboration with Wellesley is amongst the deepest relationship that FLAME has and we hope to continue to build our relationship in the times to come.”
He further added, “We would like to thank the leadership team at Wellesley College for showcasing faith in our vision and founding principles. We are certain that both institutions will benefit tremendously from each other’s expertise.”
Jennifer Thomas-Starck, director of International Study at Wellesley College, expressed, “During our visit to FLAME University and the meetings held with their leadership team, it became evident that Wellesley College and FLAME University shared multiple commonalities. FLAME University’s focus on providing quality liberal arts education is in line with Wellesley College's desire in increasing educational and cultural programming relating to India.” She added that FLAME University’s liberal education ethos and unique faculty-student mentoring pedagogy is also fundamental to Wellesley’s mission.
Andrew Shennan, provost at Wellesley College said, “We at Wellesley college are looking forward to a deeper academic collaboration with FLAME University. Liberal arts being the core of both institutions, we are excited to plan many collaborative academic and research activities. Student and faculty exchanges, joint curriculum development, joint course offerings, and research collaborations among other opportunities, will help the students and faculty at both institutions grow culturally and experience newer perspectives. Wellesley College and FLAME University share similar values and we are excited to be creating global leaders for tomorrow.”
Through this association, FLAME University strives to enhance the educational experience of students and faculty by encouraging and providing them with opportunities to operate in multilingual and multicultural settings at an international level.
Being the pioneer of Liberal Education in India, Pune based FLAME University delivers the country’s premier interdisciplinary education experience.