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Summer Term - Courses
Foundation Course: (FC-0201)Indian Civilizations
Faculty: Prof. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Ashoka University
Course Description: The course will contrast the philosophical and the political thought with the priest-ordained commandments in India, examining the non-religious imaginations of Sarmad and the Sufis as also the Asokan Edicts, Buddhist-Brahmana contestations, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Sangam age secular instructions in Tamil. It will also compare the Yatric India with the India of Visitors through the ages, studying the journeys of ancient travelers such as Fahein to the current Dalai Lama. A study of imprisonings from early times including that of a  serving emperor jailed- Shah Jehan, to our own Tihar times would reflect the way we are evolving or not evolving as a people that believe in the rule of law and civilitas. 
 
Foundation Course:(FC-0102) Foundations in Environmental Studies
Faculty: Asst. Prof Mitul Baruah, Ashoka University
Course Description: David Harvey famously said: “All ecological projects (and arguments) are simultaneously political-economic projects (and arguments) and vice versa.” This course introduces students to the historical, social, and political processes that shape the interactions between humans and the natural environment across multiple scales. The course will focus on some concepts and perspectives that are central to the understanding of nature-society relations. These include the Anthropocene, population and scarcity, production of nature, sustainability, neoliberal nature, political ecology, environmental ethics, and environmental justice. It will then move to discussing various important issues concerning three fundamental resource sectors that we engage with every day of our lives: food, water and energy. The final section of the course focuses on climate change, with a special emphasis on the politics of climate change.   
 
Foundation Course: (FC-0306) Logical Reasoning and Mathematical Thinking
Visiting Faculty:R. B. Bapat, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi
Course Description: This foundation course is designed to serve as an introduction to one of the most fundamental, powerful, and beautiful modes of perception, analysis, and expression in mathematics.
This course will introduce a number of ideas and methods, some useful, some beautiful, some both useful and beautiful. Beautiful and pro- found ideas in mathematics often arise through generalization of the familiar. A flavour of mathematical way of thinking using topics which are accessible, without requiring overwhelming technical background, such as number theory, graph theory, calculus, probability and so on, will be provided.
 
Foundation Course: (FC-0405) Social and Political Formations
Faculty: Asst. Prof Gilles Verniers, Ashoka University
Course Description: The purpose of the foundation course “Social and Political Formation” (SPF) is to introduce students a number of fundamental concepts of social sciences. Social sciences provide us with concepts and theories that help us to understand or make sense of the world we live in and how humans relate with each other. They also provide us with critical tools that can be used to lead an impactful existence, an existence that is socially conscious and politically engaged. This course is not an introduction to Political Science or Sociology as disciplines but a broad foundation course that will draw from these two disciplines to explore a range of basic concepts associated with the two key concepts of power and democracy.
 
This course is organized around two important transversal questions. The first one is the question of the political. What constitutes a democratic society? Can democracy accommodate forces working against it? How to identify and analyze the political dimension of all aspects of our individual and social existence? The second question is what happens when you transpose concepts, ideas and notions that have emerged essentially from the European experience into the context of India? How do concept travel, are received, are re-appropriated and ultimately modified.
 
Foundation Course: (FC 0503) Mind and Behaviour
Faculty: Asst Prof Aditi Chaturvedi, Ashoka University
Course Description: The idea of a human nature is an extremely powerful one but what we mean by 'human nature' often passes unanalyse d. In this course we will study a range of contemporary philosophical debates around the idea of human nature. We will look at debates in a range of fields including political science, anthropology, biology, psychology, medicine, and robotics. Some of the questions we will consider:
 
1) Is there such a thing as 'human nature' or is it a social construct?
2) What is the role of the idea of human nature in political discourse?
3) Does biology give us grounds for believing in a universal human nature? Does anthropology?
4) Is there a single, universal human nature or are there many human natures?
5) What role does the notion of 'normality' play in discussions of human nature?
6) What role do race and gender play in discussions of human nature?
7) What distinguishes human animals from non-human animals and robots? What are the ethical implications of this purported distinction?
 
This course will be taught online using a partially asynchronous method : you will be required to do the reading and watch a one-hour explanatory lecture prior to each one-hour interactive discussion session. Assessment will be in the form of short quizzes and four sentence papers. Readings will be provided in a digital course pack. 
 
Cr. Writing:(CW-1001) Introduction to Creative Writing (100 level course)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Arunava Sinha, Ashoka University
Course Description: In this course, students will experiment with two creative genres—poetry and prose—as a means of developing different imaginative approaches to experience. The emphasis will be on generating substantial amounts of raw material, and advancing a body of this toward completion. Each craft lecture will be tied to a set of readings that will be discussed in class. At the end of the course, students will learn how to look at literature from the point of view of a practitioner and apply writing techniques to a variety of rhetorical situations. Anyone who wants to earn this minor or take creative writing courses, must successfully complete this course. There is no prerequisite for this course.
 
 
Critical Thinking Seminar:(CT 1051) From the Fairy Tale to the Uncanny(100 level course)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Alexander Phillips, Ashoka University
Course Description: Fairy tales have had a remarkable career, having been told and re-told, invented and re-invented by peasants, aristocrats, literary authors, and film studios. How have they been appropriated and re-appropriated in oral traditions, print culture, and on the screen, and what has happened to the genre along the way? In this course we will read and write about fairy tales from a variety of historical and cultural contexts. In so doing, we will practice key elements of writing in academic and non-academic contexts: developing and supporting a point, dialoguing with others, structuring a piece of written work, etc. We will further consider how the fairy tale and its conventions of magic, the supernatural, and the fantastic are appropriated into realist and so-called high literature, giving rise to a new aesthetic category: the uncanny.
 
Computer Science: (CS-2378) New Geography of the Information Age
Faculty: Asst. Prof Debayan Gupta, Ashoka University
Course Description:This course focuses on socio-technical problems caused by humanity blindly stumbling its way into the Information Age. Our new world has new rules: intellectual property looks different, cyber-crime looms large, cold cyber-warfare persists at a nation-state level, planet-scale surveillance is commonplace, we're all about to lose our jobs to robots, and the list goes on.

We shall study the rise of fake news and nation-state propaganda, the nature of sensitive information and the importance of privacy, and the deeper structural issues (such as the nature of the internet, the laws of scale, and the direction of technological progress, especially in AI) that underlie many of our problems.

While this course shall be interesting for (computer science) experts and non-experts alike, we’ll hold extra sessions for non-expert students: you should be willing to get their hands dirty! Students will also be expected to do some background reading on the history of the internet, cyber-crime, etc.
 
English: (ENG-2015)Trauma and Event: The Afterlife of Disaster (200 level course)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Sharif  Youssef, Ashoka University
Course Description: Public disasters provide a font of rich material for the study of trauma and its relation to large-scale events that have local, national, and global ramifications long after their occurrence. The triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident that occurred in Fukushima, Japan on March 11, 2011, the terrorist attack on the New York City World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, or the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa followed by the public recitation of  traumatic events before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, show how the “eventfulness” of disaster is prolonged through the continuous political, legal and affective working-through of its ramifications on multiple scales at once. Mass media, literature, popular culture representation and political action taking place in and around “the event” will provide the materials that theories of trauma and eventfulness will be applied to, asking students not only to think about how theory can be applied responsibly to such events but also how the theories themselves may be tested and modified. We will also examine the impediments to eventfulness, such as the genres that tame and normalize the experience of ongoing trauma.
 
 
English: (ENG 2050) Dreams, Talismans, and Pictures: the problem of reality in the human psyche (200 level)
Faculty: Prof: Amrita Narayanan, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University
Course Description:Across time and culture, human beings’ interest in pleasure and fulfillment has been far beyond what is possible in reality. In this class we shall examine literary and real examples of how the human imagination steps in to promise and deliver moments of heightened intensity that address reality’s limitations. As we travel through the terrains of the real and the imagined, we will address important questions about how these two realms relate to each other. Do the real and the imaginary live in an antagonistic relationship within the psyche? What happens when the imagination appropriates the psyche to exclude the real? What do ancient talismans have in common with wish fulfilling individual dreams, or with the post-modern form of the portrait, the “profile picture”? What happens when the connected imagination of two or more people insist that a shared fantasy is real?  To stimulate these and other questions about the relationship between the imagination and reality, we will study Freud's theories of the pleasure principle and of narcissism alongside Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey, George Perec’s Thingsand T.C. Boyle’s contemporary short story The Relive Box.  
 
Pre-requisites: ENG 1001 or ENG 1002
 
Economics:(ECO-3660) Economics of Gender (300 level course)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Bipasha Maity, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course aims at undertaking an economic analysis of the issues affecting women in the economy while also drawing inspiration from the fields of evolutionary biology, feminism and psychology. The discrimination faced by women in market scenarios, such as those of labour and credit as well as the impact of globalization on women will be studied. Further, the course will explore issues that women face in non-market situations such as bargaining within the household, marriage and fertility and how market and non-market scenarios interact to influence women’s well-being. Lastly the roles of education, healthcare, property rights, birth control, political franchise and representation in mitigating gender-based inequalities will be studied. Students would be able to understand and appreciate both market and non-market factors that result in or promote gender based inequalities. They would also be able to critically understand why some policies succeed while others may fail to mitigate gender-based inequalities.
 
Pre-requisites: Microeconomics and Econometrics at the undergraduate level are prerequisites for this course.
 
Economics: (ECO-3202)Macroeconomics of Development (300 level)
Faculty:Dr. Mausumi Das, Visiting Faculty from Delhi School of Economics
Course Description: This course takes a close look at the ‘deep’ determinants of growth. This course takes off from the basic growth models (discussed in the core Macroeconomic Theory II course), which identify factor accumulation and technology as the ‘proximate’ causes of growth. Yet, there may be some deep fundamental characteristics of countries that in turn influence these proximate determinants. These fundamental factors would explain why in some countries the physical/ human capital do not grow fast enough or why the level of technology is not the same in all countries across the world. Some of the deep determinants that we shall focus on in this course are: weak government (corruption), weak markets (market imperfection), culture, geography and climate. We shall examine how these deeper institutional factors impact factor accumulation, efficient utilization of existing factors and technology adoption. 
Pre-requisites: Macroeconomic Theory II is a prerequisite for taking this course.This is an elective course for students Majoring in Economics.
 
Economics: (FIN 3030/ECO-3303) International Finance
Faculty: Prof. Biswajit Banerjee
Course Description: The objective of this course is to provide a framework for making corporate financial decisions in an international context. Managing an international business or one exposed to global competition requires an understanding of international financial instruments, markets, and institutions. This course seeks to provide a working knowledge of these issues. The stress will be on an understanding of the intuition behind the theories, not on mathematical proofs or on replicating empirical results from the literature. The course will not shy away from complex ideas but will try to make the ideas as accessible as possible. Solving mathematical financial problems is an important part of the course.
 
The course will address the following main topics: national income accounting and balance of payments; international monetary system; foreign exchange market and exchange rate determination; foreign currency derivative instruments; arbitrage and international parity conditions; risks in global finance (e.g., foreign exchange risk and country risk), the management of foreign exchange risk with forwards and options; international capital flows, and globalization. 
 
Grading: There will be one mid-course exam after Week 3 and one final exam at the end of the course. There will be no make-up exam for any reason.The exams will consist of multiple choice questions and problem solving questions. The overall grade for the course will be the aggregate scores of the mid-term and final exams. If a student misses any exam, she/he will be marked a zero score for that particular exam.The final letter-grading will be on a curve. The distribution of final grades will be such that no more than 15% will receive an "A" grade, no more than 15% will receive an "A minus grade" and no more than 20% of the class will receive a "B+" grade. 
 
Pre-requisites: Knowledge of Basic macroeconomics 100 level would be useful
 
Entrepreneurship:(ENT-1004) Creativity and Design Thinking (100 level course)
Faculty: Priyank Narayan, Ashoka University
Course Description: It is often said that “Today, thinking is more important than knowing”. Opportunities are what we all look for and their counterparts—the problems—are what we should solve in daily lives. Dynamic environment of twenty first century requires more creative skills from citizens than just analytical skills to manage in the ever-changing work environment.  
 
The course is designed to provide an understanding of problem solving with a touch of creative focus in a systemic framework.  The students will be introduced to concepts of creative thinking like convergent and divergent thinking, lateral thinking and 6 thinking hats. 
 
Structured techniques such design thinking will also be practiced. Students will be expected to work on live projects to come up with creative solutions to problems that they see around them. Concepts around creativity such as the 'Medici Effect' will also be discussed in class through book readings.
 
IR: (IR 2020) Ethics and International Relations: Unpacking the Normative Dilemmas in Politicsmes to the present (200 level)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Ananya Sharma, Ashoka University
Course Description: International Politics by its very nature is fraught with ethical issues. Actions in the global context (immigration, economic policy, human rights legislation, and (non) democratic institutions) have a pervasive impact on the lives of individuals and this impact often differs based on how one is situated in the world. This course is designed to explore, analyse and evaluate some of the central issues, values and debates in the contemporary world that have a bearing on normative political inquiry. What relevance do ethical considerations have in international conduct? Is ethical action possible, given the realities of national interests and power politics? Is it utopian to think about ethical factors playing a role in international affairs? And how, in ethical terms, can international acts be evaluated? Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives and thematic issues in the fields of international politics, the course will challenge students to reflect on major ethical theories and traditions as well as core problems in the current times. The course will engage with the dilemmas encountered in world affairs including: the moral economy of violence, the politics of exclusion, debates on human rights, global justice and cosmopolitanism, ecological responsibility and concerns regarding economic inequalities and unequal development.
 
Pre-requisites: Anyone 1000 level IR course
 
Media Studies:(MS-1202) Media, Culture and Society(100 level)
Faculty:Neha Dixit, Media Studies
Course Description:Mass media shapes our understanding of the world. This six-week course will enable students to gain an in-depth understanding of key issues, debates, and theoretical perspectives, and to critically analyze the relationship between culture, media, and society. Through the course, students will closely examine mass media forms-news, cinema, tv, digital space-and will explore how our everyday engagements with media are influenced and structured by broader economical, political, ideological, and social contexts.

This course has been created to recognize the utmost need for media literacy in contemporary times. Through communication theory and ownership models of the media, the course will explore how media constructs a kind of social reality. Through questions of power, inequality, and identity, the students will be trained to critically think about the relationship between gender, class, race, and ethnicity, and caste. They will learn to recognize how these prejudices are propagated through the media. It will look at how mass media is evolving through New Communication Technologies such as artificial intelligence, gaming, and wide-ranging use of Social Media. The final week will look at the role and ethics of the media. It will explore why Freedom of Press and Expression are essential Human rights. How Hate Speech, Propaganda, and Fake News in the media change the fabric of society. 

The course aims to create smart and critical consumers, creators, and participants of mass media. At the end of the course, the students will be able to identify and develop an understanding of Media theories and analyze media practices globally. They will learn to formulate well-informed opinions and critical awareness of current media practices. 
 
 
Philosophy: (PHI-2715) Philosophy of Love (200 level)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Raja Rosenhagen, Ashoka University
Course Description: What is love? What is true friendship? Is love an emotion, is it a mere feeling, or is it something more cognitive? Are love and friendship morally relevant? Does love make us partial and does it therefore conflict with the demand of justice? Can everyone be loved? Can we love God? Can we love pets? How about inanimate objects? How are we to characterize loving relationships? Can loving relationships be just or are they inherently oppressive? Are there reasons for love? And Conversely, does love provide us with reasons? If we bind ourselves to our beloved, what happens to our individual autonomy? These are the kinds of questions that will be pursued in this seminar, in which both ancient and contemporary thinkers from both Western and Eastern traditions will be read. (Watching a few movies about love and discussing them in light of these readings may be planned)
 
Political Science:(POL 1005) Introduction to Comparative Politics(100 level course)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Bann Seng TAN, Ashoka University
Course Description: Comparative Politics is the study of political phenomena occurring predominantly within countries. The comparative method is a way of examining such phenomena. The thematic question for the course is: How does regime type affect policy outcomes? As a first cut, we will explore the selectorate theory. We will use its logic to understand how policy outcomes that emerge might differ between democratic and autocratic settings. Next, we will explore the economic and cultural determinants of democracy and study how transitions to democracy can occur. In third part of the course, we will emphasize the institutional variations within democracies and identify its consequences. For the last part the course, we will re-examine the policy consequences of regime type. Is it merely a dichotomy; namely that “democracy is good” and while “autocracy is bad”?
 
Political Science: (POL1004) Introduction to Indian Politics
Faculty: Asst. Prof Gilles Verniers, Ashoka University
Course Description: This course plunges into the pre and postcolonial roots of some of India’s major political debates and controversies regarding the nature and role of the state as well as India’s overall democratic trajectory. The course is divided into six modules that examine the trajectory of state formation, the relation between democracy and inequalities, the politics of India’s economic transformation, democratization, the role of elites and state incapacities. The course will attempt not to be too Delhi-centric and pay heed to regional differentiation or state contexts. Most contemporary debates on economic and social justice – reservations, access to land, the role of the state – are rooted in the pre-Independence period and in constitutional debates. We will attempt to analyse how the responses to those questions have varied through time and how some of the early questions India has had to grapple with when it became independent have remained relevant today. 
 
Psychology:(PSY-3005) Intergroup Relations(300 level course)
Faculty: Sramana Majumdar, Ashoka University
Course Description: Why do individuals identify with different groups and what motivates them to behave in extreme ways to uphold group goals? How are group differences in status and opportunity maintained and justified through generations? This course will answer these and similar questions by engaging with the various ways that groups interact and behave. We will examine how the individual relates to their social identity and how that identity shapes individual actions. The course will cover foundational and contemporary social-psychological theories on prejudice, stereotyping, social identity, intergroup bias, intergroup conflict and emotions as well as ways to reduce bias and conflict. Through active discussion and reflection with students the course will look at how intergroup relations is being reshaped in a digital world and the significance of social identity in light of recent global events and movements.
Pre-requisites: Social psychology & Statistics and Research Methods I
 
 
Sociology: (SOA 2107) Tibetans in India
Faculty: Asst. Prof Swargajyoti Gohain, Ashoka University (200level)
Course Description: When you hear “Tibet,” what’s the first image that comes to your mind? Probably the Dalai Lama, and monks and nuns in red robes. The most famous refugee in the world, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India for over 60 years. But he is not the first Dalai Lama to do so. Were the reasons bringing his predecessor into exile in India the same as the ones that brought him?
Have you ever wandered in Dharamshala or Delhi’s Majnu ka Tila and wondered why the Tibetans came to India in 1959? What allowed them to make a home here? Did they keep alive a hope of return? Are there lessons they can teach us about strategies of adaptation in diasporic populations across the world? Are there lessons about co-existence? About harmony? About hope?
 
In this course, we look at the Tibetans in India as a case study through which to comprehend postcolonial predicaments. We will first understand the Tibetan question through the “Great Game” and imperialism in the nineteenth century, and follow its evolution through the coming up of new sovereign nation-states in Asia. We will show how their case throws up important insights into the political and cultural lives of refugees, diaspora and exile populations. How they may hold the key to some of the fundamental questions of the twentieth century? 
 
We grapple with three big questions:
  1. How does the Tibetan condition of exile help us critically understand nationalism and state-making in the twentieth century?
  2. How can we learn more about the relation between monastic Buddhism and secular democracy  from the experience of the Tibetan monks? 
  3. How do different generations of Tibetans complicate boundaries between citizens and refugees? 
In addition to scholarly readings, the course will introduce you to exile literature and cinema, as well as oral histories of Tibetan refugees. It will include a fieldtrip to Majnu ka Tila, and guest lectures with prominent Tibetan officials, activists, monastic men and women, and students from Delhi-NCR. 
 
 
Visual Arts:(VA-3006/HIS-4007) Histories of South Asian Art: From the earliest times to the present (200-300level)
Faculty: Asst. Prof Sraman Mukherjee, Ashoka University
Course Description: What is Art and who is it meant for? What is specifically South Asian about South Asian Art? What does it mean to think of South Asia and Art as analytical categories? Did South Asian Art always exist or were historical processes involved in the making of the field? What are the objects of South Asian Art? Where do we locate the “genesis” of art in South Asia? Did art forms in South Asia emerge in a zone of cultural and social isolation? Or can we trace trajectories of trans-regional contacts, encounters, and exchanges as central to the shaping of the field of South Asian Art? What is space of tradition and innovation in the visual arts of South Asia? Did arts of South Asia “influence” artistic practices in other regions? How did artists at different points in history think about the region we identify as South Asia?
 
Seeking to address some of these questions, this course examines aspects of the visual arts of South Asia from its earliest traces in cave paintings and stone implements to sculpture, painting, illustrated manuscripts, calligraphy, and architecture. The course follows a chronological scale, from pre-history to c. 1950. The vast geographical as well as the temporal span of the field will restrict the course from delivering an encyclopedic survey. Instead it will prioritize intensive analysis of selected themes. Rather than placing the teleology of South Asian “art” solely in the context of changing dynastic histories, the course takes up specific themes in art across a range of objects, artefacts, archaeological sites, built spaces, religious and political symbols, and institutions of art pedagogy and exhibitions. In the process we address the questions of image, icon, and representations of body, landscape, portraiture in the context of social and ideological changes, aesthetic turns, shifting patrons and markets, and introduction of new material media. The course will probe both ‘South Asia’ and ‘South Asian Art’ as stable (art) historical categories and map the new methodologies and vocabularies employed by art historians.
 
Class lectures and discussions will be supplemented by visits to museum and art gallery which will enable us to study the original works of art and explore the visual dynamics of organization of exhibition spaces. There are 3 museum and gallery visits planned for the entire course –to the National Museum, to the National Handlooms and Handicraft Museum, and to the National Gallery of Modern Art.