Whither Academics? Video and Report of Panel Discussion

Textual report: See below the embedded video.

Report of Panel Discussion on Whither Academics?

VMCC Auditorium, 3 September 2013, 6 pm

Prepared by : Nivvedan S


  • Rahul Sharma
  • Nivvedan S
  • Prof. R B Sunoj, Chemistry Dept
  • Ashima Mittal
  • Prof. Sudha Shastri, HSS Dept
  • Prof. NB Ballal, Met Dept
  • Kiran Eranki
  • Prof. J Bellare, Chemical Dept
  • Dhanasree M

The panel discussion began with a short presentation from each of the panelists. A quick

summary of the presentations is given below. The summaries should be used along with

the corresponding slides accessible from the FAC website for full context. (URL of the FAC

website http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~dmd/academic_culture)

Rahul Sharma – Declining Interest in Academics?

Social conditioning, market forces and excessive media focus on huge salaries play a huge

part in determining the students’ actions. At present there is a lot of social and parental

pressure in securing jobs and living up to the ‘IIT’ tag. This results in diversion of time from

academics into the other activities.

Nivvedan – Why don’t students study?

Results of a survey conducted by InsIghT by the same name were presented. The key take

away from the survey – 50% of the students don’t study at all unless and until there are

imminent exams. (More results in the slides). In the hostels, students are subject to peer

pressure to do extra-curricular activities. There is a need for marketing academics, both for

its own sake, and possibly also as lucrative career option.

Prof. RB Sunoj – Trends, Fashion and Balance

The trend is towards least work and maximum effect. Peer appreciation is on parameters

like scoring a “great” internship or a job and never on high performance in an examination,

for instance. Those who don’t adhere to this fashion are socially labelled as ‘maggu’. The

resulting trend is Low CPIs and decreased interest in Academics.

Ashima Mittal – Why ‘Tech’?

Student technical activities are avenues for students to indulge in practical engineering

activities. It has been noticed that almost all of the students who were active in the student

technical scene actually pursued a career in the core area. Access to labs and possibility of

crediting technical projects were tabled for discussion.

Prof. Sudha Shastri – Why Education?

The distinction between Learning with a view of getting a tangible and immediate reward

vs. Learning for the joy of it. Learning as a way of transforming ways of thinking. The role of

liberal arts in a technical institute is critical in this regard.

Prof. NB Ballal – Why not doing good academics is a bad idea?

Observations from years of experience:

• Pure Enjoyment is when one is free from guilt

• College days are the discovery times

• You are as good as you think you are

• Life is all about problem solving

Kiran Eranki – Instructional Methods, pedagogy and Research Issues

Effective Teaching: What type of instructional strategy is good for effective student

learning? Pedagogy: How to teach Problem solving skills? The role of collaboration in


How to improve faculty advisor–research scholar relationships?

Discussion on these keys issues, along with the research done in these areas, is essential.

Questions tabled for discussion.

Prof. J Bellare – Academic Honesty & Academic Bravery

How to convince students to be honest in academics when the outside society largely isn’t?

Academic Bravery is to stand up to thoughts and ideas with proof. This allows us to pursue

unpopular lines of thought, without fear of reprisal. We need to develop a “warrior ethic,”

where service to a noble cause is its own reward

Dhanasree M – Changes required in the system for better Academic Culture

Issues pertaining to four topics were tabled for discussion.

1. Minor Programme to pursue interests outside the core field

2. Importance of Industrial Exposure

3. Improving Faculty-Student Interactions

4. Academic Infrastructure.