The University of Delhi has been through a lot in the past two years. The shift from an annual system to a semester mode has been quick, tremendous, and a whole new experience – just the way all change has ever taken place. And just while we were all settling in, the University is going to see yet another new way of life – the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). Through this article, we look at how it has affected the Political Science course offered by the University.
Analysing the University’s undergraduate Political Science course in particular, the first thing that strikes a person is that in the foundation year, there are very few subjects (out of eleven) that would be vaguely related to political science – namely Governance and Citizenship, Indian History and Culture, Environment and public health, Geographic and socio- economic diversity. While courses like IT, Mathematics and Literature may help enhance vocational skills, they have very little to do with the subject itself.
The structure of the course has obviously changed, and the university has tried to make it more comprehensive by introducing twenty major subjects (Discipline Course 1) related to the students’ particular subject of interest, six minor subjects (Discipline Course 2) for additional information and knowledge, and four skill based Applied Subjects. While this well defined way of functioning will give students an in depth research perspective to political science, the fear of reading material being too short (as laid down by the university) to provide greater understanding – especially in a research driven subject like political science – is quickly seeping in. Yet, many feel that the course may become more practical, with all knowledge being coupled with important skill based learning.
Mind Body and Heart Courses and ECA
Some also see this as a way of making Political Science a less rigorous course, with co curricular activity being given importance, along with skill building and overall development with courses like Mind Body and Soul. But the essence of a research driven subject, the idea of creating a generation of academics who understand in depth political theory and have the potential to lead revolutions is slowly diminishing.
Freedom of Choice
While students will now be able to make an informed choice about exactly what honours degree they’d like to pursue, there has also been certain curtailing of free choice, with the eleven foundation courses being compulsory along with one applied language course. These courses like Information Technology, Science and Life, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Management are from varied streams and may not really equip a student studying Political Science.
Under the FYUP, the mid course exit points provided after two years and three years respectively may also prove to be the easier way out for some. Fear is that it would serve to the disadvantage of students from underprivileged backgrounds and women students. Since the first year is only a foundation year, these exit points in a course like political science may lead to graduates with half baked knowledge on concepts that are built over time –like theories of politics, international relations and global politics, governments and constitutions.
Amidst all protests and petitions against the FYUP was the Vice Chancellors argument of the new system improving employability and placement patterns of the university. For a subject like political science, whose scope is so diverse, students would benefit more from quality education than from unguaranteed, but apparently easy jobs.
Like every course, Political Science too, has been affected by the FYUP –for the better in some ways, and for worse in others. The final verdict, though, can only be given after this batch of students completes their graduation. Ruin or reform, this change is finally taking place despite protest from a substantial part of the university, and each course can only accept it and make it work for itself.
(For analysis of other courses click here)
Illustration Credit: Bidisha Mandal