Re/viewing Pedagogy at Roskilde, Denmark
The first international conference on “Innovative and Critical Approaches to Higher Education in the 21st Century” was organized by the Critical Edge Alliance (CEA) at Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark, in late June 2016. Comprising seven universities from across the world, including TISS, Mumbai, the CEA seeks to foster innovative pedagogies that push the boundaries of inquiry and realign traditional learning methods to suit the digital age.
The keynote, structured as a discussion, witnessed the Deans and Directors of the seven universities discuss how their respective institutions attempted to bridge the gap between academia and society, to make a difference in the world. Prof Shalini Bharat, Deputy Director, TISS, elaborated on the many ways in which TISS has persistently adopted action research to inculcate a spirit of social inquiry among its students. The ensuing sessions emphasized project-based, student-centred pedagogies within a transdisciplinary framework, allowing learners to reflect on the learning process, and to discover their interests and strengths.
This researcher’s paper on “The Value of Story-Making in Language Acquisition” concerned the CLIx English course and its challenges – encouraging students in rural India to engage critically with their surroundings through story-telling and creative writing.
Other papers discussed creative social design by psychologically vulnerable people, book publishing as a pedagogical tool, the interface between educational institutions and the community, and a re-envisioning of the lab as a mental – rather than physical – space that facilitates civic intelligence.
Post conference, volunteers took us on a walk to an old building in a little lane in Norreport, Copenhagen, where students of RUC make pottery, furniture etc. Some nightclub spaces turn into classrooms by day, with professors conducting tutorials for interested student groups.
The conference succeeded in provoking intellectual excitement and, most crucially, reinforcing the need for humanistic inquiry in this digital age to create truly rounded individuals.