The U.S. Embassy’s public affairs office supported Goucher College, Maryland, a leading American college, and Shiv Nadar University, India to host a workshop on the importance of liberal arts education in the 21st century. The workshop was held in Delhi on November 29 and 30 and brought together 25-30 senior Indian higher education administrators from leading Indian institutions across the country to dialogue and discuss the implication of integrating and promoting the liberal arts in higher education. Members of the private sector such as multinational companies like Microsoft, KPMG, and Yes Bank also participated in panel discussions and gave academicians information on the requirements of industry from graduates of the liberal arts colleges.
The Joint Secretary of Ministry of Human Resource Development, Dr. Saravana Kumar, delivered a key note address and said “Liberal Arts is an important part of our education system. In fact, our ancient Takshahila University had championed the concept of liberal arts education before anyone else. We wish Indian universities like the ones present at the conference the best of luck.”
The Counsellor for Cultural Affairs, Mr. Conrad Turner, said that “Liberal arts education has a long tradition in the world, we already know its contribution to the value system, creativity and critical thought, and those are cornerstones that hold are societies together. Graduates of the liberal arts are able to better orient businesses, institutions and government societies. Liberal arts graduates in the United States have made tremendous contributions in the fields of business, technology and public policy among others.”
Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer, Mr. Karl Adam, said that “Liberal arts graduates possess unique characteristics like mental flexibility, critical thinking and go beyond just mastery of technical capabilities. United States has a long tradition of teaching of the liberal arts. We want to bring together education leaders to discuss this very relevant disciplinary approach in higher education.”
Senior Indian administrators and faculty hope to continue to follow-up and deliberate upon the different approaches to teaching and integrating the liberal arts in Indian universities and colleges. One of the outcomes of this workshops could be to potentially draft a white paper suggesting ways of promoting and integrating liberal arts in a range of Indian institutions.