Collaborative Masters Module in Delhi
In February 2013, 27 post-graduate students from the universities of Birmingham, Delhi and Melbourne convened in Delhi to participate in an intensive MA module designed and delivered collaboratively by the three Universitas 21 universities.
The theme for the module was Traditional and new security challenges: South Asia in global perspective, and as a starting point, students explored the relevance of the traditional ‘national security’ paradigm and the role of nuclear deterrence in South Asia. Against this backdrop the module considered how challenges such as weak and failed states, environmental degradation, terrorism, underdevelopment, migration, and normative ideas such as ‘human security’ have come to change the way we think about insecurity.
This is a truly innovative collaboration between three universities, with a broad range of lectures, excellent classroom discussions, and cultural activities (including a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra). As a fully accredited MA module for Birmingham and Melbourne (and plans for accreditation in Delhi underway), this is a unique and concrete example of a successful collaboration between U21 universities. It is the third time this module has been organised and there are positive signs that it is leading to broader institutional collaboration, with ideas for a future joint research project being discussed that could involve all three partners.
Professor Navnita Behera, of Delhi University’s Department of Political Science, led the Delhi input into the module. She observed that “it is a stimulating experience for all involved – and some of the student friendships last long after the end of the module.”
In addition, the topic of the module – the evolving security agenda – is more important than ever. It was convened and taught by Edward Newman (University of Birmingham), Navnita Behera (University of Delhi) and Pradeep Taneja (University of Melbourne), with additional teaching input from Nasreen Chowdhory and Devika Sharma (both from the University of Delhi), Rajesh Rajagopalan (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Cdr (Ret.) Uday Bhaskar (Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies).
The feedback from participating students has been highly positive. Krishnamurari Mukherjee – a MA student at Delhi University’s Department of Political Science – said that “the module provided many fascinating insights into the realm of Security Studies, and it was a wonderful opportunity to interact with students from around the world and have a stimulating exchange of ideas. Apart from the hectic and intensive week of academic deliberations, it was a lot of fun as well. The only negative thing for me was that the programme was simply too short!”
James Edwards, from the University of Melbourne, observed that “this was a valuable learning experience for me. It was well taught and structured. I had done a few subjects on India previously and I felt there was a good balance of theory and valuable region-specific expertise from local academics. I made some great friends on the trip and above all, the subject made excellent use of the contextual learning environment. Well done and thank you for organising a great subject.”
From Birmingham, Ana Alecsandru observed: “India is a vibrant country with a diversity that very few countries in the world can match. I had my first glimpse of the rapidly growing Indian country and the effect that it has on the people living there. With a group of students from Birmingham, Delhi and Melbourne there were so many lively discussions both during and outside classes. I really enjoyed classroom discussions on various contemporary security issues from South Asia. Our tutors were very energetic and passionate about what they taught. They would engage the entire class in interesting debates. Due to the intensive nature of the course, reading has to be done before the start... and this facilitated my understanding of some of the difficult ideas discussed during classes, and allowed me to immerse myself properly into the debates. I would strongly recommend this module, as it is an excellent way to increase your academic depth by experiencing a mix of teaching styles, while having a great time meeting new people and exploring new places. If I could sum up I would say: The most memorable week of my life!”
Dr. Edward Newman
Department of Political Science and International Studies
University of Birmingham