“What we want and need is education pure and simple, and we shall make surer and faster progress when we devote ourselves to finding out just what education is and what conditions have to be satisfied in order that education may be a reality and not a name or a slogan. It is for this reason alone that I have emphasized the need for a sound philosophy of experience.”
- John Dewey in Experience and Education
“When we widen our horizon to include transformative approaches to experience, especially those concerned not with escape from the world or the discovery of some hidden, true self but with releasing the everyday world from the clutches of the grasping mind and its desire for an absolute ground, we gain a sense of perspective on the world that might be brought forth by learning to embody groundlessness as compassion in a scientific culture.”
- Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson & Eleanor Rosch in The Embodied Mind
Srishti provides a unique student experience that is truly holistic in its essence. A cursory examination of different curricula in the current world will reveal that they are dominated by certain words which become the spirit of the education that is provided by the institution. While these words continue to be part of the institution’s vocabulary in many forms of communication, they very often tend to lose meaning when they become a slogan, a brand or just rhetoric.
The integrity of the curriculum in Srishti is located in its ability to focus on practice, acting as the cohesive force that brings together different disciplines under its pedagogical framework. Practice is, simply put, achieving a perfect balance between mindfulness and making which, in Fransesco Varela’s words begins with “pushing away verbal reports to all forms of other techniques and explorations which requires a whole new methodology”.
The value of the Srishti student experience lies in its ability to provide strategies for the development of a non-egoistic self that can generate, empower and impact, creatively and constructively, the quality of life of communities inside Srishti, in India and in the wider World by flowing in and out of the following modalities:
Introspection and Mindfulness
These practices enable one to stay focused and concentrate one’s will power to continuously raise personal standards of performance. The objectives here are to learn to ‘Know’ oneself and cultivate an agile mind and body by disentangling (or removing clutter) of thoughts and emotions, anchoring and curbing the physical senses, refreshing and releasing tranquility, dissolving and merging into the flow, and loving and serving human goodness through:
B) Meditation and mindfulness (Click here to view >>)
C) Anger and Anxiety Management (Click here to view >>)
D) Stress Reduction
Permeable, Porous and Immersive Learning Environments
Places add to the richness and complexity of what is experienced. Students undertake traveling to different places or live with different communities as part of their courses or as part of their co-curricular activities to build strength and resilience, empathy and the much needed context for critical interventions through art and design. At Srishti, the student experiences are porous and permeable allowing a seamless integration with locales and with environments through:
as a way of understanding ecologies of place, history, culture and examine the ideas of belonging
as seen beyond the building, as the city, a place or a site which becomes the studio (the place) and the text (the content) for learning.
Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Learning Opportunities
The student learning experience at Srishti lies at an intersection of both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to learning and research. As a student of Srishti, our interdisciplinary approach needs the understanding that knowledge is created at the intersections of various disciplines and so the learning is not narrow on just skills but also focusses on the development of conceptual understanding from a range of other disciplines. As a student of Srishti our transdisciplinarity allows for use of methods drawn from a range of other disciplines- such as humanities, sciences, or literature and for the inclusion of stakeholder voices from non-scientific communities to be part of both research and practice.
“Throughout history, almost every culture has had art, music, dance, architecture, poetry, storytelling, pottery, and sculpture. The desire to create is not limited by beliefs, nationality, creed, educational background or era. The urge resides in all of us----it is not limited to the arts but can encompass all of life from the mundane to the profound” - Robert Fritz in Peter Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline
At Srishti learners are encouraged to identify and work with authentic real world problems and map complex issues through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary processes in order to understand multiple perspectives, gain insights towards a universal design for all. While the problems come with urgency and seemingly call for need of the hour solutions, the curriculum at Srishti encourages students to locate patterns and systems. In Nelson Goodman’s words “what we can capture are world versions, describing how the world is. Art (which encompasses design) becomes a way to represent the experiences of the world.
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” - David W. Orr
Our current focus at Srishti is Art-making (inclusive of design thinking) in times of
A) Ecological and environmental crisis
B) Social conflict and global unrest
C) Economic uncertainties
Harmonizing the Inner and Outer Self through Practice
It would be naive to assume that academic and personal growth occur in compartmentalized fashion - as if one were separate from the other. The journey from adolescence to adulthood is a delicate transition in all senses – intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual; at Srishti, the students are provided with a non-judgmental space to explore their newly emerging selves.
Wellness is one of the core values of Srishti and concerns are directly handled by the Dean of Student Welfare. As students delve into the creative learning process, there often arise existential questions around values, beliefs, self-worth, identity, past experience, their connection to themselves and to the larger world. The Wellness community offers empathic, professional support to help students express and work through their thoughts, emotions, concerns, empowering them to become more self-aware, connect with their inner resilience, make meaningful and thoughtful life choices, thus enhancing our students’ experience at Srishti and contributing to their well-rounded growth. Support is provided through art therapy, one on one counselling, coaching and mentoring as well as provisions of learning support, where necessary.
B) Personal Mastery- Alignment of Inner and Outer Practice
“Personal Mastery goes beyond competence and skills, though it is grounded in competence and skills. It goes beyond spiritual unfolding or opening, although it requires spiritual growth. It means approaching one’s life as a creative work, living life from a creative rather than reactive point of view" - (Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline)
Each academic year in Srishti begins with “Re-visiting”, a two week period where the students address the gaps in their skill and scholarship, and re-align themselves to their personal goals. Learning during these two weeks is not about aquiring more information or adding more skills. It is about realignment of one’s inner practice (who we are and what we want) with a clear picture of current reality (where we are and what we can know and do). Our students are encouraged to “never arrive” but always learn with a sense of purpose, vision and a set of goals. That Revisting is a non-credited course, is by design. We do not think universities need to accredit this as that will be extrinsic to the individual learner and not intrinsic to a personal quest for mastery.
C) Multiliteracies- Transformative Power of Language and Communication
“The term ‘Multiliteracies’ refers to two major aspects of language use today.
★ The first is the variability of meaning making in different cultural, social or domain-specific contexts. These differences are becoming ever more significant to our communications environment.
⇒ This means that it is no longer enough for literacy teaching to focus solely on the rules of standard forms of the national language. Rather, the business of communication and representation of meaning today increasingly requires that learners are able figure out differences in patterns of meaning from one context to another. These differences are the consequence of any number of factors, including culture, gender, life experience, subject matter, social or subject domain and the like. Every meaning exchange is cross-cultural to a certain degree.
★ The second aspect of language use today arises in part from the characteristics of the new information and communications media. Meaning is made in ways that are increasingly multimodal—in which written-linguistic modes of meaning interface with oral, visual, audio, gestural, tactile and spatial patterns of meaning.
⇒ This means that we need to extend the range of literacy pedagogy so that it does not unduly privilege alphabetical representations, but brings into the classroom multimodal representations, and particularly those typical of the new, digital media. This makes literacy pedagogy all the more engaging for its manifest connections with today’s communications milieu. It also provides a powerful foundation for a pedagogy of synaesthesia, or mode switching.”
- (New Learning: Transformational Designs for Pedagogy and Assessment)
Srishti welcomes students from all languages and cultures. The engagement with different languages are on a first person level especially during community practices so as to become an insider to cultures. The pedagogy of “Multiliteracies” is developed as part of the vibrant student experience through the following facilities and programmes:-
i. The Writing Centre (Click to view>>)
ii. Multi-cultural linguistic development (Click to view>>)
iii Training in Kannada for communication and other languages
iv Training in Foreign Languages - French
“When describing optimal experience in this book, we have given examples such activities as making music, rock-climbing, dancing ,sailing, chess and so forth. What makes these activities conducive to flow is that they are designed to make optimal experience easier to achieve“ - Mihaly Csikzenthmihalhi in Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Srishti believes that playing a sport, learning a musical instrument, a new language etc. can be a catalyst in acting as a stress buster, making new friends, learning leadership skills, working in a group, inculcating espirit-de-corps and in promoting inclusion. Apart from the co-curricular activities, there are Open Labs on weekends for students interested in tweaking and hacking, meetups or learning melas as well as volunteering opportunities in various fields. The students choose and participate in the following key areas designed to generate a better and more enjoyable quality of student life and generate optimal experiences.
A) Dance, Music and Theatre
D) Open Labs
E) Learning Melas
Individualization of Learning
“… knowledge of the real is produced in three ways, which are sense experience, discursive reasoning and intuitive apprehension. Sense experience helps us to know the outer characters of the external world. …Logical knowledge enables us to know the conditions of the world in which we live and to control them for our ends. …It is the wisdom gained by the whole spirit which is above any mere fragment thereof, be it feeling or intellect. … great intuitions bear the stamp of personality. And thus, no two individuals can create the same work of art, for art is the expression of the whole self“ - S Radhakrishnan in An Idealists View of Life
Visual Thinking Workshop for Foundation Studies students at Srishti led by Jayesh Sivan Click here to view >>
To respect some adult learning characteristics of being self-motivated and self-directed, goal-oriented, and motivated by relevance and practicality, learners are offered choice and encouraged to set their learning goals by providing a choice based navigation of units. Srishti’s goals for students are aligned with those of the University Grants Commission (UGC), India which has articulated how students “depending upon their interests and aims can choose inter-disciplinary, intra-disciplinary and skill-based courses.” The UGC emphasizes how a choice based credit system “not only offers opportunities and avenues to learn core subjects but also explore additional avenues of learning beyond the core subjects for holistic development of an individual” (University Grants Commission, India: Minimum Course Curriculum for Undergraduate Courses Under Choice Based Credit System).
A) Specialisation, Major and Minors
The focus of a student’s learning in the initial semesters at Srishti is on unlearning, obtaining exposure to diverse ways of learning and making and on developing an introductory knowledge of art and design. In subsequent semesters students focus on more disciplinary knowledge sets and skills. During this period, each student’s learning journey reflects a unique combination of learning experiences from a specialization area, complementary minor(s) fields, and areas of personal interest. These learning experiences are offered through a range of studios, workshops in art and design. Students also take general studies classes on topics of contemporary relevance from various fields of liberal arts and science such as history, philosophy, sciences, language, literature, mathematics, business, finance, social and life sciences.
B) Winter at Srishti
Winter at Srishti is a four week break-out period nested between the first and second semesters. This unique part of Srishti’s academic curriculum has diverse forms for students at different stages of study.
Students either embark on Learning Expeditions where they travel to and immerse in different contexts to study either the social ecology, key elements of space and place, nature of community and practices and the legacy of history and heritage. Some students engage in a seminar, where select groups work collaboratively to investigate and diverse skills and fields of practice.
Srishti Live is the outcome of students’ creative endeavours during the interim period when groups of students work with eminent artists from India and overseas and engage in contemporary art practice. Their works are developed and shared as diverse forms of public art and performances, interactive installations and soundscapes, experimental films in the city and/or art forums such as the Kochi Biennale or national/regional Arts Festival, Goa.
Post graduate students at Srishti organize Interlude, a forum for practical engagement with topics of contemporary relevance. In collaboration with visiting post graduate students from across the country, Srishti students conceptualize and organize a range of learning and sharing forums such as hackathons, field visits, public engagements, demonstrations, symposiums, or exhibitions.
Srishti students undertake a summer internship prior to their final year of study in a professional art or design studio, organization, or industry. Such a professional internship provides students the opportunity to apply their learning and multidisciplinary skills and to obtain professional inputs that complement academic learning.
The culminating semesters of student learning at Srishti reflect what has been described as “living cognition” by Varela, Thompson and Rosch.
“… the usual tendency is to continue to treat cognition as problem solving in some pregiven task domain. The greatest ability of living cognition, however, consists in being able to pose, within broad constraints, the relevant issues that need to be addressed at each moment. These issues and concerns are not pregiven but are enacted from a background of action, where what counts as relevant is contextually determined by our common sense.
- By Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch in The Embodied Mind
Research Projects, the Capstone or Dissertation offer students a live experience of the full cycle of the design/art process under the mentorship of discipline and/or industry experts. For undergraduate students, the seventh semester project offers a deep exposure to working in a specific area of art and design, while the eighth semester project is interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary in nature. Post graduate student projects can be speculative, practice or industry oriented. These research projects are mentored by senior faculty and design principals in areas that are creative and rooted in industry, market and real-life contexts and concerns.
Thus Srishti’s learning framework enables every learner in Srishti to have an individualized, custom-designed schedule of interdisciplinary learning units and the expansive experience of engaging with a mix of faculty, industry experts and students from other disciplines.
“To be progressively more free is to be sensitive to the conditions and genuine possibilities of some present situation and to be able to act in an open manner that is not conditioned by grasping and egoistic violations. This openness and sensitivity encompasses not only one’s own immediate sphere of perceptions; it also enables one to appreciate others and to develop compassionate insight into their predicaments.“ - Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson & Eleanor Rosch in The Embodied Mind
“Lifeworthy learning is life ready when its ready to come together in particular contexts to solve problems, make decisions, formulate plans, embrace and enjoy an experience, or simply make sense of a puzzling world.“ - David Perkins in Futurewise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World
Click on the above image to view enlarged >> Image Credits: Institute for the Future
Srishti encourages students to consider their learning in college in connection to the wider world, whether this is part of emerging fields of creative practice, industry and economy, changing socio-political and cultural milieu. They are encouraged to attend and participate in art festivals, exhibitions, conferences, professional workshops and symposiums either as part of a Srishti delegation or on their own initiative. Students can contribute works to the Serendipity Arts Festival, the Kochi Muziris Biennale, India Art Fair etc.
As a member of an extensive national and global network of Art and Design Institutes and international forums, Srishti often contributes to the global dialogue in art and design and creates works to share at international forums. Srishti students frequently participate in such endeavours and have a forum to interact with leading figures and peers from the international art and design community. Such networks include Cumulus (International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media), ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design), ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), LENS (Learning Networks for Sustainability).
Further, as part of its exchange program, Srishti also offers students the opportunity to travel and study overseas for a semester at one of over 40 colleges/universities across Europe and the United States. During their overseas study, Srishti students learn in an international academic environment, are mentored by eminent artists and designers, mingle with peers from across the world and obtain exposure to international art and design practices.
Through their engagement in various forums within and outside Srishti, students develop a portfolio of work which showcases their talents and passions. They can avail of guidance from Srishti faculty and their tutor in developing their portfolio, resume, personal statements and concept notes, college and work applications. Srishti faculty and especially student tutors often write letters of recommendations and provide references to support student applications.
A Srishti student is guided and supported in the learning journey by a tutor. Tutors meet with their tutees at the start of the academic year and guide them in selecting learning opportunities by keeping in mind the students’ interests, past learning and experience, and opportunities available in the coming semesters. Their goal is to assist the student to have a personally relevant learning journey that the student can draw upon in the final semesters when engaged in project based learning. Along with this, tutors often meet students to have conversations about their interests, hobbies, and work in progress. They help students identify sources and means of support if they experience any difficulties and scaffold their learning journey. Tutors frequently suggest avenues by which students can explore to their interests, broaden their horizons, and enrich their knowledge base in domains of art and design. They also, assist students to make connections with professional networks, artists and designers in the field.
Along with tutors, Academic Deans work with students at every level to encourage and support them in maximixing their learning opportunities and to support them through any difficulties they may experience. The Academic Deans are attuned to students’ needs and interests and mediate dialogue between both students and faculty in all learning endeavours. They often connect and support students in conjunction with tutors, the wellness team and faculty.
On the whole, the student experience at Srishti is built on mutual respect and cultural sensitivity, within a community open to the exchange of ideas, diverisity of opinions and freedom of thought and expression. Srishti fosters an environment of acceptance, safety and inclusiveness in which individuals may grow, work and learn productively. Srishti recognizes that there exists a reciprocal relationship between people and their environments. Trust in the environment is critical to the development of expression and creation.