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Putting Theory to Practice—5 advantages of pursuing the B.A. (Hons.) Social Science and Policy programme at JSGP

EducationWorld July 2020 | Special Essay

UNESCO had declared in its World Social Science Report 2013, “The Social Sciences have a critical contribution to make, in helping us understand, imagine, and craft a more sustainable future for all.” That future is upon us, and the need for equitable and sustainable development is greater than ever before. Social scientists play an instrumental role in bringing such a change. B.A. (Hons.) Social Science and Policy programme, offered by Jindal School of Government and Public Policy (JSGP), can equip aspiring social scientists with the knowledge and skills to address the increasing array of social problems and policy challenges we are facing as a global community.

According to the World Economic Forum, complex problem-solving is the most important skill needed to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. B.A. (Hons.) Social Science and Policy programme will train the students to solve policy problems by transcending the narrow confines of traditional Honours programmes in a single discipline. The goal of JSGP and O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) is to make the students better human beings, cultivating in them empathy and understanding towards others, critical thinking, good communication skills, and a broad understanding of how societies have changed over time and can change for the better in future. JGU has been recently ranked as India’s number one private university by QS World University Rankings 2021 JGU was also ranked among the top 150 universities in the world under the age of 50 in the QS Young University Rankings 2021, in a big nod to this young university’s objective of offering global standard of higher education to Indian students.

Here are five ways in which the B.A. (Hons.) Social Science and Policy programme can nurture tomorrow’s agents of change.

  • Broad range of subjects helps develop the ability to think laterally

Over the years social sciences have expanded but got fragmented and institutionalised into disciplinary silos such as economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, and communication. These silos no longer offer a comprehensive understanding of how society functions and changes. However, social and policy problems are never simply an “economic” or a “political” problem. Take the example of managing the Covid-19 crisis: most of the experts trained in a singular discipline are failing to produce a comprehensive and lasting policy framework to deal with the health emergency. Most of the policies are ad hoc in nature, changing with the course of time, creating confusion and chaos in public life. Worldwide, universities have been promoting the so-called interdisciplinary training, which turns out to be a buffet of various courses, without any central focus or rigour. Most of the time, the onus of creating an interdisciplinary perspective rests with the students with teachers continuing to teach and research from the silos of their mother discipline. Realising these limitations, JSGP have designed the B.A. (Hons.) Social Science and Policy programme to transcend the disciplinary boundaries to create an organic whole called “social science.” A selection of electives across the different schools at JGU that go beyond the core subjects will give students an opportunity to pursue their own interests

  • Hands-on training to understand practical applications of theoretical concepts

Empowered by theoretical clarity, students will learn how to apply knowledge to select, analyse and solve social and policy issues. They will be trained in academic writing and presentation. Tthey will learn to manage student societies and, organise events, which will develop their social and emotional skills.

JSGP offers capstone projects to the students, wherein students work full-time in an organisation for a semester, which allow them to understand how policy interventions and research work in real-life situations. JGU’s strong industry network and Office of Career Services enable students to get rewarding internship opportunities

  • A focus on research as the DNA of exemplary social scientists

Research is a core component of social science. Systematic investigation can lead to new insights which can bring structural changes and impact the world. This B.A. (Hons.) programme will train students to become insightful and innovative in their thinking.

Quantitative methods can provide vital information about a society or community, through surveys, examination or records or censuses that no individual could obtain by observation. Qualitative methods are needed to understand how individuals think, feel or behave in particular situations, or in relations with others that develop over time.”

  • Exposure to global perspectives and international opportunities

The students can choose to learn a foreign language, and take part in the exchange programme with a foreign university. International collaborations with top foreign universities and access to a pool of internationally-trained academicians at JGU will expose the students to global trends and debates.

  • Diverse career opportunities for graduates 

Graduates will have a good foundation to become successful in central and state civil services examination, and they can look forward to opportunities with development and policy consulting firms, CSR departments of corporations, bilateral and multilateral development agencies, advocacy groups, NGOs, think-tanks, and print and television media companies, among others. The students will develop various transferable skills such as research and analysis, creative thinking, and verbal and written communication. These skills are considered valuable in professions across sectors and can lead to rewarding careers in their chosen fields in, social science and beyond.

Prof. (Dr.) Swagato Sarkar, Professor Jindal School of Government & Public Policy; M.A. (TISS, Mumbai); M.Phil., D.Phil. (University of Oxford)

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