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OPEN COURSES

Open courses form an integral part of the post-graduate programmes offered by Azim Premji University. These courses provide students with an opportunity to explore various fields of knowledge outside their regular curriculum. The University offers over thirty courses covering a wide range of subjects from literature, fine arts and history to popular themes of scientific interest. Open courses unfold in a relaxed, yet engaging mode so that the students’ imaginations and critical abilities find more creative expression, enabling them to make lateral connections with their mainstream curriculum. The open courses are taught by accomplished and experienced individuals from diverse professional backgrounds, including experts invited from outside the University.


Course Outline:

This course is designed to engage non-specialist, graduate students in a dialogue about the politics, aesthetics and histories of art and architecture. The proposed set of works and objects have been chosen because they are iconic and thus extremely influential in the making of history and culture. For students entering or working in the development sector, these works provide ways to complicate and re-vision important questions and axioms about power, economy, urbanism, ecology, gender and systems of value, which they will confront on a regular basis. The course will enable students to acquire an ability to look at, interpret and write about the inter-connection between aesthetics and experiences of everyday life.

Dr. Annapurna Garimella is a designer and an art historian who focuses on the art and architecture of India and is based in Bangalore, India. She heads Jackfruit, a research and design organization, with a specialized portfolio of design and curatorial projects for artists, museums, government and private organizations and non-profits. She is also founder of Art, Resources and Teaching Trust, a not-for-profit organization that gathers resources and promotes research and teaching in art and architectural history, archaeology, crafts, design, and other related disciplines in academic and non-academic fora. She has to her credit several publications on contemporary art.

Course outline:

Most popular descriptions of Renaissance leaves a number of questions unanswered: did the figures of this period realize that they were creating a set of radically different works? How did they characterize their own age in the light of the past? Why did they create the works they did? Did the artists of this period have a shared vision? Did they have a model that they aspired for? If they did, why did this model turn out to be more acceptable than others? How did writers and artists of this period conceive of the world and the place of man in it? Was this picture of the world radically different from the existing one? What did this imply for a range of domains such as polity, religion, and so on? In what way did the developments in this period prepare for the birth of modern world? This course is an attempt to make sense of this period. Apart from being informative about Renaissance art, literature, science, religion, the course will also help students gain exposure to reflecting on issues in historiography.

Mr. Prakash Iyer and Dr. Varadarajan Narayanan are Faculty Members at the Azim Premji University. Their profile may be viewed at:
http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people

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Course Content:

In India, as in other parts of the world, formal urban spaces are continually transformed by social, cultural, religious, political, economic and other everyday practices. This course, first, draws attention to these informal spaces in the city – spaces which do not really feature in the formal plan of the city. It introduces students to techniques of observing, and recording the informal spaces of a city in order to begin to see and value what gets left out of planning, and also understand inequality in cities. Second, while we find that there is informality around us, we must also realise that our own actions may be contributing to this informality. In this course, we will therefore also reflect upon how we walk in the city and how it makes us who we are, and the city what it is.

Kiran Keswani is an architect with an interest in urban design. She has been visiting faculty at Architecture colleges in Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. In 1996, she was a Netherlands Fellow at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Muthatha Ramanathan is a human geographer. She completed her Ph.D in Geography at University of Washington, Seattle in 2013. She lives in Bangalore and is a research associate at The Indian Institute of Geographical Studies (TIIGS), Bangalore.

Course Outline:

Based on Kautilya’sArthashastra, this course introduces students to the rich diversity of the ancient Indian discussions on statecraft, economy, and law and to the problems arising out of anachronistic interpretations of the past to address contemporary political exigencies. The course will first take students through the modern life of an ancient text that was fortuitously discovered at a time when nationalist politics was taking root in India. The Arthashastra has subsequently been used by a variety of political actors including Nehru, Dr. Ambedkar, and the Hindu Right. Ambedkar’s observations on the text will turn our attention to the surprising marginalization of the text in pre-colonial India.

Vikas Kumar is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. His profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people

Course Content:

Until a few decades ago, the urban landscape in an Indian town or city was the integrated outcome of built spaces (houses, community halls, places of worship & shops) based on local materials, indigenous building skills and the local climate and unbuilt spaces (chowks, parks, bazaars &maidans /open grounds) that reflected the everyday lives of people. There has since then been a change in the social and economic life of the city primarily due to economic liberalization and the growth of various industrial sectors. In the present times, the dominant elements of urban form are high-rise buildings, malls, highways, flyovers and other infrastructure. While the architecture does not reflect its geographical and social context, buildings are increasingly beginning to look alike as they neither use locally available building materials nor indigenous building skills. The ‘Architecture for Non-Architects’ course hopes to enthuse students to think about the buildings that surround them, to understand the processes that make good design and to make better choices as people who inhabit designed environments.

Kiran Keswani is an architect with an interest in urban design. She has had a design practice for 15 years and has been Visiting faculty at Architecture colleges in Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. In 1996, she was a Netherlands Fellow at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Some of her work has been published in MARG – a magazine for the Arts, Building Research and Information and Architecture + Design. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies at the School of Architecture & Planning, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. Her research focuses on the Informality of Urban space as an outcome of Everyday practices. She writes a blog Everyday City for Citizen matters – an online news magazine and is based in Bangalore.

Content Outline:

Walking tours continue to be a popular medium of exploration, usually rendering the city ‘knowable’ through particular histories and showcasing the rich and forgotten heritage that lends to the ‘culture’ of a city. Our course will encourage students to undertake a critical study of public spaces through walking. We approach walking as a creative practice, walking as a way to learn, walking as a way to question and as a field of imagination. We approach walking as a way to activate the senses, mobilize an individual and social body. We walk amidst ordinary and everyday life, with no burden of upholding legacy or memory. The course intends to use walking as a catalyst for students to express stories and perceptions of the spaces they occupy in the city.

Angarika is a graduate from the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, with a degree in sociology. She has previously worked on developing music education programs aimed creating a space for learning and interaction between young musicians from different socio-economic backgrounds. She has also been a peer facilitator on issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights.She is currently tracing the journeys of protest songs across the country. She is also attempting to create works that can raise questions around urban development and planning, and has an interest in writing on gender and sexuality.

Ekta Mittal, one of the co-founders of maraa , Ekta treads between migration, public space, cultural resistance, gender & sexuality through her practice in media, arts and film making. She has worked as a community radio facilitator on production, research and creative programming since 2008. She curates film festivals at maraa. Ekta is interested in using unused and unexpected spaces in the city for the arts. She continues her work on Behind the Tin Sheets, a film project conceptualised in 2009 on migration and cities. She has been preoccupied with the relationship between arts and resistance.

Prashant is a graduate from Christ University, with an MA in English with Communication Studies. He has worked on setting up and coordinating film societies in academic institutions, facilitated curated film screenings for college and school students across streams, and conducted workshops on reading cinema critically. He has written academic and non-academic articles about cinema, arts and literature.
For more information: www.maraa.in

Course Outline:

India’s North East is largely missing from the national consciousness and discourse. Occasionally, insurgent attacks, violation of human rights by security forces, natural calamities such as earthquakes and floods, Republic Day tableaus, and visiting dignitaries from New Delhi briefly remind the “mainland” of the North East. The region always appears as a problem – ecological, infrastructural, national security, or humanitarian – waiting to be solved. We hardly engage with the region as just another place where people live their lives. This course will make a small attempt to reduce the familiarity gap and introduce students to one of the states of the region – Nagaland, the first northeastern state formed after the British left the Indian sub-continent. The course will rely upon a wide range of local primary sources without taking recourse to the writings of “outsiders” (with the exception of PadmanathGohainBaruah’sMorSonwarani, Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya's Yaruingam, and NirmalNibedon’sNagaland: The Night of the Guerrillas).

Vikas Kumar is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. His profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people

Course Outline:

Kannada literature has a history of over a millennium and is one of the flourishing Southern Indian literary traditions. An analysis of a regional literature like Kannada can offer a strong alternative world-view by engaging with issues and ideas different from those dealt by dominant literatures. Kannada Literature right from the beginning has critically engaged with social issues and this trend found its fullest expression in the 12th century literary movement which fought for a caste-less society (Veershaivism). More recently, Bandaya or rebellious literary tradition has been a driving force behind movements for social justice. Studying these rich and varied developments in a comparative perspective can offer creative insights into contemporary issues such as inequalities, gender discrimination and environmental degradation.

The Late Dr. U.R. Ananthamurthy was a distinguished Kannada writer and public intellectual. His numerous publications include novels, short stories, poetry and essays in literary and cultural criticism. The Jnanapith Award was conferred on him in 1994 and the Padma Bhushan in 1998. His major works include the novels, Samskara, Bharatipura, Avasthe and Bhava.

Course Outline:

Typically, Indian students do not have the opportunity to explore classical Indian literatures in a class room setting. If it all, some of them choose to read classical texts out of interest. However, these readings tend to be whimsical and unsystematic and are usually not located in any context -- either literary or historical. As a result, knowledge of our own literary traditions is incomplete and can be distorted. Also typically, young people tend to read within their own linguistic traditions, unaware of such phenomena as inter-textually and citation and a larger literary universe created and inhabited by these texts.

This course will introduce them to a number of texts, themes and ideas from a millennium of Indian writing -- starting with the late epic period (circa 200 CE) to the end of the age of classical poetry (circa 1200CE). The readings (in translation) and discussions will be linked by ideas and expressions of love, covering such texts as the Ramayana, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Tamil poetry and the Bhakti period. Students will be exposed to religious as well as secular expressions of love in the various classical languages of the sub-continent. Our readings and discussions will explore these facets, allowing students to gain a fuller understanding of these tropes and themes.

Arshia Sattar's translations of the Valmiki Ramayana (1996) and Tales from the Kathasaritsagara (1993) are published by Penguin Books as is her collection of essays on the Ramayana, "Lost Loves: Exploring Rama's Anguish." (2011) which was short-listed for the Crossword Non-Fiction Award in 2012. She has also written three books for children, most recently, "Adventures with Hanuman" (Red Turtle, 2013). Her latest book, "The Mouse Merchant: Tales of Money in Ancient India" (Alan Payne, Penguin 2013) is a compilation of stories from Sanskrit texts about attitudes to money. Arshia teaches classical Indian literatures at various institutions across the country and along with DW Gibson, is the Founder and Director of Sangam House, an international writers' residency program located outside Bangalore.

Vanamala Vishwanathan is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. Her profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people.

Course Outline:

Sahitya Samaj ka darpan hai - Literature reflects the society (social processes) – wrote Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi a hundred years ago. Like all creative endeavours of human mind, poetry tells us, at a surface level, about the times we live in, the conflicting world-views, etc. At a deeper level, it records and exposes the non-formal epistemological approaches we use to comprehend and demystify the world around us.

An exposure to contemporary poetry will add to a holistic learning that an educator or a development practitioner must possess. In particular, vernacular expressions relate us directly to the people at the receiving end of our exercises.

Harjinder Singh, aka 'LALTU (लाल्टू)' is a well-known poet and writer in Contemporary Hindi literature. He is a Professor teaching sciences at IIIT-Hyderabad. He visited the Azim Premji University, Bangalore for a year during 2013-14. He also worked with EKLAVYA, MP, as a UGC teacher fellow for two years. His work in Hindi literature is mainly as a poet with five collections of poetry, one short story collection and a few works for children and neo-literates. He has received his education from Presidency College, Kolkata, IIT-Kanpur and Princeton.

Course Outline:

The impact of the West has resulted in new forms and themes in Indian literature, marking a sharp break from traditional Indian literature. This course seeks to understand and appreciate novels, poetry, and short stories written in India primarily post-independence. The aim is to enjoy them for their literary merit, and also ascertain what they might tell us about ourselves and the society we live in, in a world connected by common historical events.

Athena Kashyap's poetry books, Crossing Black Waters (2012) and Sita of the Earth and Forests (forthcoming, also by SFA Press, Texas) explore issues related to the concept of home and women in India. She has an MFA in Poetry and Certificates in the Teaching of Post- Secondary Reading & Writing from San Francisco State University, an MA in English from UC Davis, and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. She has taught English at City College of San Francisco. She is the primary editor for the online literary journal at Jaaga, Bangalore and is also a literary editor at the journal, All Roads Lead You Home.

Course Outline:

It is increasingly the case that students have not read the Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, having experienced them only as oral tales or as television serials. Since these epics continue to provide a cultural vocabulary for contemporary society, it is important that students acquire not only a familiarity with these stories but also appreciate the many ways in which they are told. The course will use standard texts of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as a base and then explore, primarily through film, contemporary retellings and multiple versions of these timeless stories. The course thus aims to not only give students a familiarity with the Ramayana and the Mahabharata but to introduce students to the diversity within the Ramayana and the Mahabharata traditions.

Arshia Sattar's translations of the Valmiki Ramayana (1996) and Tales from the Kathasaritsagara (1993) are published by Penguin Books as is her collection of essays on the Ramayana, "Lost Loves: Exploring Rama's Anguish." (2011) which was short-listed for the Crossword Non-Fiction Award in 2012. She has also written three books for children, most recently, "Adventures with Hanuman" (Red Turtle, 2013). Her latest book, "The Mouse Merchant: Tales of Money in Ancient India" (Alan Payne, Penguin 2013) is a compilation of stories from Sanskrit texts about attitudes to money. Arshia teaches classical Indian literatures at various institutions across the country and along with DW Gibson, is the Founder and Director of Sangam House, an international writers' residency program located outside Bangalore.

Course Outline:

Poetry lets you look at the world with fresh eyes, helping you free your deeper thoughts and feelings. By both learning to “read” and write poetry, students will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the art. They will be exposed to poets of international stature, and also learn to critique their own and other students’ writing in a safe, welcoming atmosphere. Fieldtrips to art museums, poetry reading venues will give them insight into the world of a poet.

Athena Kashyap's poetry books, Crossing Black Waters (2012) and Sita of the Earth and Forests (forthcoming, also by SFA Press, Texas) explore issues related to the concept of home and women in India. She has an MFA in Poetry and Certificates in the Teaching of Post-Secondary Reading & Writing from San Francisco State University, an MA in English from UC Davis, and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. She has taught English at City College of San Francisco. She is the primary editor for the online literary journal at Jaaga, Bangalore and is also a literary editor at the journal, All Roads Lead You Home.

Course Outline:

Most people have read some crime fiction as children and young adults – many will be familiar with Agatha Christie, James Hadley Chase and more recently Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson. As with any literary genre, the evolution of crime fiction has a specific history. This course traces the evolution of the genre in the 20th century and explores some of the major themes of interest to our students such as gender, class, urbanization, modernity etc. We will explore the important milestones in the evolution of the genre and the authors who have contributed new ideas, characters and literary forms through a reading of some of the most popular and important examples of crime fiction.

Shreelata Sheshadri is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. Her profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people.

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Course Outline:

The course is founded on the understanding that sign languages have a historical and evolutionary basis, and that they represent a socio-cultural dynamic reflected in the diversity of communication strategies and modes. It is this experience of communication without sound that the course intends to explore. The course aims to expose students to an appreciation of non-verbal communication that includes gesture, mime and sign language within societies across the world including India. Students would develop a broader understanding on how society constructs the notion of ability and disability.

Himanshu U. is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. His profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people.

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Course Outline:

The course traces the dramatic shifts in poetry, with the coming of modernism and thereafter. The course will seek to illustrate through a study of the features of imagery, sound, and ideas, how poetry as a field has reinvented itself and adapted to broader intellectual and social changes. The student will understand the key tenets of modern poetry, be able to distinguish between Victorian and modern poetry, and overall, be able to appreciate the importance of context and time period in poetry

Athena Kashyap's poetry books, Crossing Black Waters (2012) and Sita of the Earth and Forests (forthcoming, also by SFA Press, Texas) explore issues related to the concept of home and women in India. She has an MFA in Poetry and Certificates in the Teaching of Post-Secondary Reading & Writing from San Francisco State University, an MA in English from UC Davis, and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. She has taught English at City College of San Francisco, and more recently, Azim Premji University. She is the primary editor for the online literary journal at Jaaga, Bangalore and is also a literary editor at the journal, All Roads Lead You Home.

Course Outline:

Literature provides distinctive examples of the interactions between the word and the world. Science fiction, specifically, articulates the experience of post-Enlightenment modernity in various fascinating ways. The “nowhere” worlds of science fiction often turn out to be versions of the “now” and “here”. This course explores some of those literary maps. The course perceives genres such as science fiction as historically formed and constantly evolving categories, negotiating a certain cultural politics. The course also sees the imagination of the future as crucially informed by the present.

Giridhar Rao is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. His profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people

Course Outline:

Creative arts have documented, critiqued and participated in the making of radical social transformations and critical junctures in social history. Literature in general and poetry in particular have worked as important catalysts in these processes. Poetry is a special genre that leaps beyond the parameters of literature. It is rooted in the socio-cultural and political nuances of communities and societies. The course traces the relationship of poetry with the socio-political movements in India alongside comparisons with different geo-cultural contexts. The course will facilitate students to appreciate the complex connections between poetry and social processes, with a special reference to the socio-historical contexts of India.

Mamta Sagar is a poet, playwright, translator and academic. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Hyderabad Central University. Mamta has worked with Hyderabad Central University and Bangalore University where she has taught Comparative Literature, Translation Studies, Kannada Literature, Postcolonial and Cultural Studies. Her association with visual arts is as an art critic, contributor to artists’ catalogues and as a performance poet designing poetry installations, readings and performances. As a practicing poet she has collaborated poetry performances with artists, poets and musicians from different parts of the world. She is actively involved with international poetry translation projects like Literature Across Frontiers, Poets Translating Poets, Melding Voices etc. She has been curating KAAVYA SANJE the community poetry event performed in public spaces involving people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. On invitation, Mamta has participated in poetry festivals and facilitated poetry workshops in India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, US, European, Southeast Asian and Latin American countries. Mamta is presently engaged with courses in Academic and Creative Writing at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. Her areas of interest being - Comparative Studies, Translation Studies, Cultural Studies, Curating Poetry Performances and Installations, Poetry in public spaces, Collaborative work using poetry with mediums of visual arts and music.

Course Outline:

Cinema grows out of popular entertainment, but technology and the forces that control technology give cinema almost immediately a direction beyond entertainment into a larger discourse of politics, global, regional, local. A text film that throws up the connection is The Great Dictator by Charles Chaplin. Keeping this film at the centre, the course seeks to demonstrate how entertainment practices and devices can serve to raise and explore issues, in this case, the rise of a genocidal power system. The course will cover comedies, musicals, romantic narratives as carriers of critical content.

The course will also expose students to different approaches open to a documentary maker, viz., the objective documentation; the subjective response to a situation, often aimed at conscientizing the viewer; the argumentative, building a case for or against a position; the advertising turn, including tourism.

Prasad is a former professional Ranji Trophy cricketer turned educator and a self-declared rasika of music who enjoys both Indian as well as western classical music, in addition to world cinema. A teacher and administrator, he was closely involved with Krishnamurti Foundation India and The School – KFI, both in Chennai as a friend and teacher. He taught at Rishi Valley School of the Krishnamurti Foundation near Madanapalle in Chittoor dt.AP. He later taught at well-known schools offering the IGCSE/A levels as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculums. He is now with the schools central team of the Azim Premji Foundation and also offers Open Course at the Azim Premji University. He may be contacted at v.prasad@azimpremjifoundation.org

Course Outline:

The separation of cognitive reason from aesthetic reason was one of the serious negative consequences of excessively rationalized modernity (as noted by thinkers such as Weber, Lukacs and others), and this fragmentation has been connected to various ailments of present day society, at the level of the collective as well as the individual, including forms of mental illness. While obviously there is no easy re-integration or reversal of the status quo possible since the fragments have evolved along divergent paths, it is nevertheless possible to become aware of the dimensions of the problem by engaging in activities that have both aesthetic and analytic dimensions. By creating and subjecting a piece of artifact simultaneously to social (historic), psycho-analytic (cachectic), and scientific (cognitive) descriptions, a dialogue may be set up between two or more fragments of reason. This simultaneous engagement in production and analysis could be a possible aid toward holistic perceptions that connect instrumental logic to aesthetic reason. The present course offers a window for such a dialogue to begin in participants who will plan and create artifacts and at the same time learn to understand what they have created through various discursive and non-discursive lenses.

Kaustuv Roy is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. His profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people.

Course Outline:

Photography is a primary form of modern imaging, communication and art. Understanding the nature, historical and social significance of this medium constitutes an important part of liberal education. This course will prepare the students to take a critical view of representation in the modern world and to develop their ability to communicate effectively. The course seeks to do this by introducing the student to a historical survey of photography as a technique and as an aesthetic field. In a limited way it will also provide an elementary understanding of the techniques of photography and its potential for creative expression.

Shantanu Chakraborthy

Course Outline:

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Course Outline:

Exhibition Design has seeped into and irreversibly influenced every dimension of the complex matrix we call modern day living. The course studies the evolution of Exhibition Design from Renaissance Europe to the endless possibilities offered by today’s technological revolution. Also covered will be the crucial role Exhibition Design plays in every sphere of life today. The course presents the stages that marked the growth of Exhibition Design from a collector’s entertainment to a technologically sophisticated profession with a very responsible social role.

Vikram Parchure, Designer (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad) and Ashoka Fellow, comes with a rich and varied experience of having explored diverse fields that include product design, income generation schemes for marginalized communities, world music, architecture, theatre, heritage tourism, childrens’ literature, thematic exhibitions, and education curricula. He has founded, steered and mentored several projects in the country and abroad, and is presently engaged in designing interactive exhibits that explore personal attitudes and their impact on contemporary society.

Course Outline:

The spoken word has through the ages played a predominant role in the history of humankind. Narratives have inspired the imagination, healed many souls and have challenged our beliefs through time. It is still one of the most effective media of communication rooted in our culture. The value of this course for the students of education and development lies in the continuing importance of oral culture in contemporary society. It will

  • Enable students to acquire skills of effective communication through oral narratives.
  • Familiarize students with the rich heritage of folklore and narrative traditions.
  • Expose students to the power of oral tradition in educational and cultural development.

Geeta Ramanujam, besides being a fabulous Storyteller, is an educator, academician and administrator. She has been an Ashoka Fellow and is presently Executive Director of the Kathalaya Trust established in 1998. In 2006, she set up the Academy of Storytelling, the only global academy in the World that regularly runs certificate courses for professionals in any field, parents and school teachers. About 69,540 people have undergone these training programs. Geeta has had performances of storytelling at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, UK, International festival at Brazil, Story wood festival at Sweden, World Tales festival Poland, the International Storytelling Center, USA and many other festivals.

Course Outline:

This course will introduce students to the works of major artists in cinema – spanning the 100 year history of the art form – which have helped shape its language both in terms of form (Technique) and Content (Narrative style). In the context of the theme of the course, the intent is to take the students through the journey of the individual – both as a loner at home in the wilderness as well as the settler at home away from the wilderness – to specific genres that have remained popular like:

  • The Western (Artist – John Ford, Fred Zinneman), b) Neo-Realism (Artists – Vittorio Di Sica and Satyajit Ray) c) Film Noir including Neo Noir (Artists – Billy Wilder and Sir Alfred Hitchcock) and d) Humanism as seen through the modern (20th century) lens of a Polish film maker (Krzysztof Kieslowski). By the end of the course, students would become aware of :
    • film form – in terms of technique and style unique to each artist,
    • Content that often influences the narrative style of a film and
    • Distinguish genres.

Prasad is a former professional Ranji Trophy cricketer turned educator and a self-declared rasika of music who enjoys both Indian as well as western classical music, in addition to world cinema. A teacher and administrator, he was closely involved with Krishnamurti Foundation India and The School – KFI, both in Chennai as a friend and teacher. He taught at Rishi Valley School of the Krishnamurti Foundation near Madanapalle in Chittoor dt.AP.

He later taught at well-known schools offering the IGCSE/A levels as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB)curriculums. He is now with the schools central team of the Azim Premji Foundation and also offers Open Course at the Azim Premji University. He may be contacted at v.prasad@azimpremjifoundation.org.

Course Outline:

The human need to listen to and tell stories and the organic tendency to make these narratives in performance has been acknowledged in all societies. The tradition of dramatic performance has been observed not just by professional groups and amateur bodies dedicated to the art, but in schools and colleges, factories, offices and prisons. This could be extrapolated to society, as a whole. People in various careers - as cultural volunteers in organisations, teachers in schools and colleges and professionals in communication - are frequently called upon to design and direct narrative performances. This course is addressed to them, the agents who are called upon to practice, as amateurs and volunteers, the traditions of performance in our society.

Prakash Belawadi is an actor, writer and director for the stage, television and films; also journalist and trainer. He is the founder of Centre for Film and Drama, now under Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy, which conducts courses in filmmaking and acting and organises screenings, shows and seminars on aspects of media and issues of current interest. His debut feature 'STUMBLE' won the National Award for Best Feature in the English language (2003). He has been a speaker and delegate at conferences in India and abroad, including Harvard Univ., San Francisco State Univ., and in London, Seoul, Gothenburg and Berlin. He has been faculty for film courses in Sweden and Istanbul, Turkey. He has won other awards for his work on the stage and screen and received the Karnataka Nataka Academy award (2012) for his contribution to English and Kannada language theatre.

Course Outline:

The intent of this course is to take the students through the works of select artists – from the silent era to the advent of sound in cinema until the post-modern age – who have pushed the envelope of the film narrative in the ever present search for a new language and communication in the new-fangled and youngest art form called cinema. The select films would include works by major artists spread across the Styles of the Classical, Modern and Post Modern cinema from across the world including the vibrant regional Indian cinema too.

Prasad is a former professional Ranji Trophy cricketer turned educator and a self-declared rasika of music who enjoys both Indian as well as western classical music, in addition to world cinema. A teacher and administrator, he was closely involved with Krishnamurti Foundation India and The School – KFI, both in Chennai as a friend and teacher. He taught at Rishi Valley School of the Krishnamurti Foundation near Madanapalle in Chittoor dt.AP. He later taught at well-known schools offering the IGCSE/A levels as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculums. He is now with the schools central team of the Azim Premji Foundation and also offers Open Course at the Azim Premji University. He may be contacted at v.prasad@azimpremjifoundation.org

Course Outline:

Dance for many an essential part of becoming human. Everyone moves and hence everyone already has the primary structure to be able to dance. This course would look at the basic premise of dance as an activity which potentially should be within the grasp of all as a medium of expression and communication. The scope of this course therefore would be to enable each person to partake of the experience of the Dance-either as a dancer or as a viewer. The viewer can then be an equal partner with the dancer in the journey of an aesthetic experience.

We explore these ideas through the practice of Bharatnatyam, a classical dance form. The curriculum would include a study of Indian Dance in its historical and social context-- Dance as a part of religious and ritual practice, as a professional or an amateur practice, didactic practice, performers of dance and place of performance and eventually as an aesthetic experience created by an artist.

The course would enable the students to acquire an idea of the basic structures of various dance forms in India along with a sense of the connections of dance with other art practices such as literature, theatre, music, sculpture

Trained in Bharatanatyam from a very early age by her parents Prof C. V. Chandrasekhar and Smt.Jaya Chandrasekhar, Chitra Dasarathy holds Master’s degrees in Performing Arts (Dance) and Sanskrit from The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Chitra has taught dance at the Central University, Hyderabad. Presently based in Bangalore, Chitra continues to perform, teach and choreograph. Many students trained by Chitra at her institution Ameya are performing artists and teachers.

Chitra’s precision in technique and sensitivity in presentation have been her strengths, much appreciated by her audiences. Her choreographic works apart from the traditional repertoire of Bharatanatyam include Geetagovinda, Samvada—Hathor and I, Utsava, Vismaya Kuncha, Vagartha, Ratiranga, Kunti,Sooriyan and Nrityanad. Narada Gana Sabha,Chennai has given her the Senior Dancer award.

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Music being an intuitive and instinctive art form is basic as food and sleep. Therefore, it is essential that every human being is given an opportunity to learn music. We just need to have an open ear and mind to assimilate the spirit of melody into our lives. This introductory course will open the doors of music for those who are willing to know a more about it.

Often it is mistaken that the classical music is for socially and intellectually privileged people, but the roots of classical music can also be seen in folk and traditional music. Therefore, there has been a lot of give and take between classical and folk traditions.The slokas that we sing in our house every day, the lori that the mother sings for the child, the popular film songs that quite often have a strong base and background of classical ragas, if someone led you to the origin of these tunes and notes, the understanding of the omnipresence of classical music will be much easier.

This course will enable students to:

  • Acquire a broad historical understanding of Indian classical and folk music
  • Acquire an elementary idea of the basic structure of Indian Classical Music
  • Recognize the influence of the Classical Music on popular genres

Dr. Nagaraj Rao Havaldar is a leading artiste of the Kirana Gharana. He holds a Doctorate in Music from Karnataka University, his doctorate thesis being "The History of Classical Music in Karnataka". He holds with distinction, "Sangeetha Ratna", a degree in Hindustani Classical Music from Karnataka University. He has worked at the Music Archives, Hubli, All India Radio, Bangalore, as a Program Executive (1988-1991). He was also the chairman of Textbook Committee for Hindustani Music, for The Directorate of Textbooks, Karnataka. Dr Nagaraj Rao Havaldar has also served as visiting professor of Hindustani Classical Music at Elmhurst College Chicago.

Dr.Havaldar has been a pioneer in popularizing the Kannada Khayal by adapting Vachanas, literary works of Haridasa and suitable contemporary poetry in Kannada to the traditional khayal form. Dr. Havaldar is the founder & president of Sunaada Art Foundation, an organization that aims to promote and preserve Indian classical music for the future generations, by archiving rare recordings, organizing concerts, and promoting senior, but lesser known artistes in Hindustani music, especially from Karnataka.

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Music – especially Indian film music – is an inescapable part of our day-to-day existence and impacts us in myriad ways. A historical appreciation of film music can help us better understand its artistic evolution and the various influences that have shaped it.

The course will introduce students to the diversity of film music in India. We shall explore the content of the music, the people who made it, the styles and the influences from folk and classical traditions, alongside developing a more analytical understanding of the research and innovations that contributed to the development of this genre.

V.S. Kumar is a graduate of the 1970-72 batch of IIM Ahmedabad. He has been a passionate lover of Indian film music and has formed a group which gives public performances.

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This course will draw from theatre processes created by Augusto Boal, who was a writer, theatre-maker and activist from Brazil. The larger aim of the process is to introduce the participants to the inherent possibilities of the Forum Theatre. The course while introducing the participant to imaginative ways of expressing and engaging, will also invite each to make that engagement and expression beautiful. There are several ways to do all of that – for instance, one form of expression is ‘speech’, there are others. The medium of work will be theatre, which has the ability to encompass all the arts.

Anish Victor began his journey in the world of theatre as a stage-hand - operating curtains, arranging furniture, organising the props, and eventually as a lighting operator for prominent productions and events including 'The Femina Ms. India' show 2000. He is the co-founder of rafiki, a theatre organisation and has over the years, worked with prominent theatre directors.

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Dance for many an essential part of becoming human. Everyone moves and hence everyone already has the primary structure to be able to dance. This course would look at the basic premise of dance as an activity which potentially should be within the grasp of all as a medium of expression and communication. The scope of this course therefore would be to enable each person to partake of the experience of the Dance-either as a dancer or as a viewer. The viewer can then be an equal partner with the dancer in the journey of an aesthetic experience.

We explore these ideas through the practice of Bharatnatyam, a classical dance form. The curriculum would include a study of Indian Dance in its historical and social context-- Dance as a part of religious and ritual practice, as a professional or an amateur practice, didactic practice, performers of dance and place of performance and eventually as an aesthetic experience created by an artist.

The course would enable the students to acquire an idea of the basic structures of various dance forms in India along with a sense of the connections of dance with other art practices such as literature, theatre, music, sculpture etc.

Trained in Bharatanatyam from a very early age by her parents Prof C. V. Chandrasekhar and Smt.Jaya Chandrasekhar, Chitra Dasarathy holds Master’s degrees in Performing Arts (Dance) and Sanskrit from The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Chitra has taught dance at the Central University, Hyderabad. Presently based in Bangalore, Chitra continues to perform, teach and choreograph. Many students trained by Chitra at her institution Ameya are performing artists and teachers.

Chitra’s precision in technique and sensitivity in presentation have been her strengths, much appreciated by her audiences. Her choreographic works apart from the traditional repertoire of Bharatanatyam include Geetagovinda, Samvada—Hathor and I, Utsava, Vismaya Kuncha, Vagartha, Ratiranga, Kunti,Sooriyan and Nrityanad. Narada Gana Sabha,Chennai has given her the Senior Dancer award.

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Immersive theatre combines elements of theatre and gaming, and shifts the role of the audience from passive spectators to active, decision-making participants in the work who have the agency to choose their own narrative. It also reflects on the changing role of contemporary audiences by exploring the various ways in which audiences can engage with stories and what it is that we look for in our experiences with contemporary entertainment. This course will explore emerging trends in immersive performance. The objective is to gain a more informed picture of the hybrid nature of contemporary performance work and facilitate a critical assessment of the ways in which immersive work transcends conventionally established boundaries of storytelling.

Nayantara is a theatre director, designer and award-winning filmmaker. She is the co-founder/ director of immersive theatre company Crow, India along with Prashant Prakash. She is a graduate of the National Institute of Design, India and completed her Masters in Performance Design at Central Saint Martins, London in 2014 for which she was awarded the Charles Wallace scholarship 2013/14. She has been a participant director at The Berlinale Talent Campus, 2008 and artist- in- residence at the AkademieSchloss Solitude, Germany, 2016. For more info: Click herehttp://cargocollective.com/nayantarakotian

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This course is an attempt to appreciate Hindustani music through the lens of the Sitar.The journey of the Sitar in Hindustani Classic music is presented with a familiarisation of both – the basics of Hindustani music and the Sitar as an instrument. The course provides an opportunity for students to appreciate gharanas. The course also includes an exploration of the culture of sitar playing, its popularity, and the role that popular sitar artistes have played in this process.

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The Theatre and Transformation course provides students with an opportunity to understand the “magic” of theatre in their multiple roles as students, actors and spectators. This course also lends students a deeper understanding of theatre language, the ways in which meaning is made in the theatre. It explores a variety of performance texts to emphasise the range of theatre performance. In addition, the course provides an exposure to the theoretical and conceptual ideas within the field of theatre and performance studies. The course unfolds in a manner that examines theatre language, theatre as a product and event, as well as contemporary theatrical practices.

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In today’s world there appears to be very little intersection between the society and arts in general, and this division is wider with respect to classical traditional arts. The course will attempt to bridge this gap by creating an intellectual dialogue and by deconstructing the classical art form and vocabulary. The traditional art world has minimal critical analysis and by demystifying it, there is an attempt to create space for discourse with different insights.

Anuradha Venkataraman has received training in Bharatanatyam from Guru SarojaVaidyanathan at Ganesa Natyalaya. Being an empaneled artiste of ICCR and ‘A’ graded artiste of Delhi Doordarshan she has been performing for the past 20 years. She has performed extensively in India and Abroad in major festivals and has choreographed four full length productions, namely - PrathamParth ( The Story of Karna, from Mahabhartha), JananyeyNamah ( A Salutation to Motherhood), Vaidehi ( The Story of Sita and Ravana, from Ramayana), Stories Unearthed ( Site specific work at Museum ).Her work has received many accolades from both the audience and the critics. Under her organization Ahum she runs the Swastika School of dance and music. Anuradha is a post graduate in Arts & Aesthetics from JNU, New Delhi and Mphil (Gold Medalist)in Cultural studies from Jain University, Bengaluru.

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The course will provide students a basic understanding of what is required to appreciate a Bharatanatyam performance through theory and practice. It is intended for anyone interested in examining the relationship of the body with his or her environment using the medium of dance. At the end of the course, the students would be equipped with a basic understanding of what is required of the body in terms of performance and appreciation of this dance form. The course caters not only to dance or theatre practitioners, but also to anyone with a broad interest in classical Dance.

Anuradha Venkataraman has received training in Bharatanatyam from Guru SarojaVaidyanathan at Ganesa Natyalaya. Being an empaneled artiste of ICCR and ‘A’ graded artiste of Delhi Doordarshan she has been performing for the past 20 years. She has performed extensively in India and Abroad in major festivals and has choreographed four full length productions, namely - PrathamParth ( The Story of Karna, from Mahabhartha), JananyeyNamah ( A Salutation to Motherhood), Vaidehi ( The Story of Sita and Ravana, from Ramayana), Stories Unearthed ( Site specific work at Museum ).Her work has received many accolades from both the audience and the critics. Under her organization Ahum she runs the Swastika School of dance and music. Anuradha is a post graduate in Arts & Aesthetics from JNU, New Delhi and Mphil (Gold Medalist)in Cultural studies from Jain University, Bengaluru.

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This course is intended for anyone who has broad interest in classical Dance, not only for practitionersof dance or theatre. The course seeks to familiarize students with theory and practice, and give them a basic understanding of what is required to appreciate a performance.

Apart from the three important aspects of space, time and rhythm, the students would be taken through theoretical and practical aspects of dance.By means of individual and collective exercises, students will be provoked to go beyond technique, and examine the relationship of the body with his or her environment.Beyond performance, the course will seek to briefly touch upon the nature of the connection between society, its history and its art forms.

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Darwin’s theory of Evolution by Natural Selection took the world by storm when it was first proposed in a joint publication along with Alfred Russell Wallace in 1858. The theory shattered several illusions held by lay person and scientist alike. The Origin of Species which was published the subsequent year continues to be widely read, debated and thought about. Natural Selection is a slow, non-directional and yet non-random process. The discovery of the gene by Mendel and the rediscovery of this work in 1900, led to a deeper understanding of the genetic basis of Evolution. These discoveries, besides giving an explanatory power to the discipline of biology, also had ramifications in various other disciplines such as: economics, sociology, etc. It also opened up areas in the Philosophy of Biology and our understanding of the nature and process of science. In recent times, many controversies regarding teaching of Evolution in Schools (especially in the West), and its contemporary presence in our daily lives have received much attention and debate. The course will thus also take students through a trans-disciplinary journey of science and sociology of Evolution as an idea.

Sindhu Mathai is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. Her profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people

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Tropical regions are typically characterized by frequent interactions between humans and reptiles. It is estimated that snakebites account for almost fifty thousand deaths in India each year. Many of these casualties can be avoided with a clear understanding of the appropriate first-aid and subsequent medical treatment. However, despite the increasing number of publications about reptiles, what one sees represented in the media remains largely based on fear, myths and misinformation.

This course will introduce students to the evolutionary and ecological basics of herpetology. On completion of the course the students will:

  • Have an overview of the field of herpetology
  • Learn basics of identifying snakes, lizards and frogs
  • Acquire elementary protocols for managing snakebite first aid.

This course was offered in the semester Jan 2014- April 2014 and was anchored by Mr. Gerry Martin and Mr. Sumanth Madhav. Below is the brief profile of Mr. Martin and the course outline.

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We have walked among, played in the branches and sat in the shade of these mighty giants since we were children. From wheels to draw water, to ploughs to grow our food, to leaves that were used as writing tablets, to timber that supported our habitat, trees have played a role in the march of civilization. They have inspired poets and story tellers. Trees have been around much longer than humans or proto-humans. They grow taller and live much longer!

This course explores the varied queries about trees through documentaries, select readings, lectures, discussions, walks, a trip to the wood museum and a weekend trip to BR hills. The course is designed so students deepen and enrich their knowledge of trees through various inter-connected perspectives. It will explore trees through the medium of art, biology, social sciences and literature. A desired outcome would be a broader connect with nature and its services through the familiar and iconic `trees’.

Gladwin Joseph is a Faculty Member at the Azim Premji University. His profile may be viewed at: http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/people.

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This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the nature of light and modern astronomy, the physics of stars and galaxies, along with an elementary introduction to the Special- and General Theory of Relativity. The course abstains from complex mathematical notation and employs only elementary arithmetic. The course will enable students to appreciate how different historical societies have approached cosmological ideas and their relevance to ideas in contemporary physics.

K.Srinivasan studied for his Masters at IIT-Madras, and obtained his PhD in Astrophysics at Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune. He is presently teaching at the Centre for Learning.

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Birds are everywhere. If you close your eyes and pay attention to the sounds around you, you are sure to hear a bird. Even a city as crowded and concretized as Bangalore is home to over 350 different kinds!

This course is aimed at people who want to pause and take notice of the birds in their lives. How do they fly? Why do some of them migrate from pole to pole every year? Why are they so noisy? Students will also get to meet and interact with a few Indian ornithologists. Finally, the course will look at the challenges that birds face in a world reshaped by and for humans.

Hari Sridhar is a post-doctoral fellow at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. His main research interests are in behavioral ecology and community ecology, with a special focus on mixed-species social groups of birds. Hari also serves as an editor for the magazine Current Conservation.

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The course enables students to understand the ecology and evolution of amphibians with a focus on frogs. The course equips the student to identify, observe and document amphibians in space (various land uses e.g., water bodies, parks, forests and so on) and time (day vs night, monsoon vs. post-monsoon). The course will also introduce students to an evolutionary understanding of amphibian phylogeny and taxonomy. Additionally it provides a cultural perspective on amphibians across history to contemporary era. The role of citizens in amphibian conservation is also highlighted across this course.

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The course is a window that provides a peek into the elusive yet highly complex and fascinating world of insects and seeks answers to some very important questions pertaining to their evolution and ecology. The course will also reveal interesting facts and various aspects of insect behavior. The course aims to provide a basic understanding of the ecology and evolution of insects, and also how insects and humans share a symbiotic relationship as pollinators and pests of crops, vectors of diseases etc. The course will also discuss the dynamics of insect ecology in the light of global climate change.

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Sport and physical activity have a tremendous potential to shape society and culture. This course will explore opportunities for building a culture of sports in social spaces and communities. It will also study sports as a means of contributing to health and education in modern society.

At a practical level the student will be introduced to principles of designing sustainable sports intervention and methods for evaluating their impact.

Parminder Gill is the co-founder of EduSports, India’s largest sports education company. As an entrepreneur and business leader, Parminder has helped start and scale unique organizations in the IT and Education space. EduSports, a venture funded company that he co-founded in 2008, is currently working with over 400 schools in India and abroad, helping them improve learning, and making over 300,000 children become healthier and fitter. Parminder’s interests include impact of body-mind connection in learning, organizational leadership and sustainability. Parminder holds a Bachelors degree in Engineering from University of Pune, and a Masters degree in Systems Management from Arizona State University.



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  • Living aspiration, friendship and love through music make life at Azim Premji University beautiful. Here I found freedom in belonging

    Ritu Gopal
    M.A. in Development I Class of 2014


  • If only life itself was amazing as it is at Azim Premji University. Or perhaps henceforth we could make it.

    Lavanya Murali
    M.A. in Education I Class of 2014


  • The intellectual storehouse that are the students and the faculty. Something we could tap into any time and come out satisfied and stimulated.

    R. Sridhar Rao
    M.A. in Development I Class of 2014


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    It was in Gudalur, an amazing landscape in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu, that I did my two week field immersion. The exposure to the vast share of unseen indigenous knowledge and culture of the Adivasi community in Gudalur was an exciting experience.

    Vijitha Rajan
    M.A. in Education | Class of 2012