Making the world a better place – Launching India’s first ever B.A. (Hons.) in social science & policy

EducationWorld May 2020 | Special Essay

Perhaps the ultimate goal of education is to make the world a better place. Understanding society and impacting policy, is one way to do this. The ever-changing governance and policy environment demands new imaginations, new methodologies and even revitalised ethics—and that is exactly what O.P. Jindal Global University is set to nurture.

At a time when social, economic and political situations across the world call for a fresh perspective, JGU is preparing young people to play critical roles in the future. JGU’s school of Government and Public Policy (JSGP) has recently introduced a first-of-its-kind three year B.A. (Hons.) Social Science & Policy programme in the country this year.

The new endeavour is a reflection of the university’s commitment to promote public service. This fully-residential interdisciplinary undergraduate degree is a unique option for those young students who want to play a meaningful role in public life.

Who is it for?

Spirited young students who want to understand and make a difference in the social, political and economic structures of the world they live in should consider this programme. It gives a strong footing in social science and policy to go out into the world with insights into different disciplines and do one’s part—be it through civil service, politics, businesses, social service, advocacy, research or any other field. But changing the world is no easy feat. It demands a socio-political consciousness, an economic awareness, a critical mind, creative outlook, and a broad perspective—but most of all, it also needs a sense of responsibility. The hope is to nurture a generation of capable, committed youth who can rise to the challenges of society and governance.

The programme is open to students from any high school stream—arts, commerce or science. Those who’ve passed 10+2 examination or equivalent with a minimum of 60% marks are eligible to apply.

What are the distinctive aspects of the programme?

  • Diverse, dynamic, contemporary coursework

The broad-based programme looks at how to apply social sciences to solve problems of society and economy. As a first in the country, the courses are original and innovative. It brings together a harmonious blend of themes relevant to today’s world. The curriculum is dynamic, cutting-edge and contemporary in every way.

  • Learning to solve real world problems with a holistic approach

The world is becoming increasingly complex. The very nature of problems is also intricate. One discipline alone can no longer provide a complete answer. Solutions for society need to synthesise different parts of the whole. To understand and operate in the modern world, one has to draw insights from diverse disciplines. Particularly in the realm of social science and policy, it is critical to go beyond compartmentalised concepts and approach the world with a wider perspective.

  • Conceptual clarity in core subjects & electives to enrich specialisations and follow interests

The core disciplines are sociology, political science and economics. These are explored through courses that range from sociological or political history, thought and concepts, themes of economics, public policy concepts and issues, governance and more. Topics like gender and society, debates on ethics, media and urban politics introduce an element of firm grounding in the multi-faceted realities of the world, and how to tackle them.

Multidisciplinary at JGU allows students to take up electives across the various schools outside JSGP, within the university—be it the schools of law, business, international affairs, liberal arts and humanities, journalism and communication, banking and finance or art and architecture. Students also have a chance to learn foreign languages.

  • Strong emphasis on research, writing and communication

While the core disciplines develop sound theoretical understanding, a deep dive into research brings in a real-world connect. Quantitative and qualitative research is a critical component of the programme. Students are taught in the ways of effective communication for survey, analysis and implementation. From research methodologies, statistical tools and academic writing to survey design, analysis, policy implementation, systematic evaluation and field work.

  • Stepping stone to civil services exam

The Civil Services Examination—the nationwide exam that recruits candidates for civil services positions in the government—is a tough nut to crack. It is widely hailed among the most challenging exams in the country. Millions of aspirants apply each year. This year, there are only around 900 vacancies. That in mind, the rich multidisciplinary curriculum of the SSP programme gives a strong foundation to students who aspire for future in civil service. The broad structure appropriately prepares candidates with the wide spectrum of knowledge necessary to succeed.

  • Skills and tools to succeed in a variety of careers

The more typical career paths include roles in civil services and government, development and policy consulting firms, research and policy think-tanks, corporate social responsibility initiatives, advocacy and rights-based initiatives, United Nations or other intergovernmental development organisations and so on.

At the same time, this kind of knowledge is desirable in many different walks of life. For instance, print and television media could benefit from journalists with training in social science and public policy to better explain and analyse current affairs. Branding and marketing research is another interesting domain for SSP graduates. International consulting companies and major foundations are always on the lookout for talent with a grasp on policy, analysis and research.

  • Real world exposure through internships, research and capstone project

Hands-on and experiential learning opportunities are important for deeper learning experiences. In fact, they are an intrinsic part of all programmes at JGU. The SSP programme too offers extensive exposure to students. Be it through internships, participation in conferences, management of events, interactions with experts in the field and industry, opportunities of working in interdisciplinary research centres, or participation in a capstone project—students are given the freedom and full support of the university to build up knowledge, skills, and experiences to understand how the world works, and influence it for the better.

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