Of late, many engineering colleges, including centrally funded institutes, have introduced humanity studies as subjects. These often include philosophy, history, culture, literature, psychology, art, music, etc. For a syllabus laden with technical education, many professors and students question the justification of such courses as mandatory subjects. Counsellors and psychiatrists may intend to counter the former’s queries, but students get stuck in the dilemma of selecting a proper subject.
Current engineering courses are primarily filled with subjects of programming languages, mechanics, electronics, structural applications, material science and the like. In their initial years, students learn mathematics, physics and chemistry to familiarize them with the complexity of science and interconnections between different subjects. Then what does a course like ‘The history of Music in India’ teach an engineering student? The idea would seem absurd, from a technical point of view.
When students from various backgrounds come together, the disparity in cultural and social customs create barriers in communication. Coping with the busy schedule and tough exam patterns often stand as obstacles in student life too. Humanities or soft studies intend to balance this lifestyle. Intellectuals also point their finger towards a different perspective too. Knowledge about history, politics, music, art, language, etc. completes a person from a technical background. They enable students to have better foresight for themselves and others.
IIT Gandhinagar follows a similar principle. Even for postgraduate students, a minimum of 6 credits in humanity studies are mandatory in order to complete the degree. Alongwith the main courses, many short courses on communication, language, medicine, relationships, travel, etc. keep the student body active through the academic year.
Graduate and undergraduate technical studies should not be only about learning the X-Y-Z of engineering. They should be about becoming self sufficient with the knowledge of everything but a master in something. This is the positive aspect of introducing humanities in technical education.
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