Without a close analysis of the failed educational models of the past, we cannot avoid making the same mistakes all over again. We have to identify the obstacles responsible for their failure and the ways to move beyond these obstacles. We should understand how the contemporary state of the humanities and social sciences has prevented such programmes from succeeding. We need to assess how far on-going attempts at introducing liberal education and Indian cultural traditions into Indian universities are falling into the same traps as earlier attempts. It is only then that we can take the first tentative steps in formulating what a successful liberal education programme could look like.

This international conference organized by India Platform and the BMS College of Engineering will draw on four different formats of exchange and discussion to address these concerns:

A plenary debate with two sessions: Here, a panel of experts will examine the two sets of issues sketched in this concept note in some detail. To initiate this debate, a position paper will be circulated among the participants. The speakers will be asked to respond to the hypotheses and arguments presented in this position paper.

Roundtable sessions: A speaker will be invited to write and circulate a paper well in advance of the conference, which addresses the theme of the day. During each session, the speaker will briefly present the basic theses of the paper to the audience. Next, a panel guided by a moderator will enter into a discussion on these theses with the speaker.  

Reflection sessions: These sessions are designed to accommodate what may be non-academic but extremely relevant perspectives on the themes of the conference. We hope to include some innovative experiments in education while also paying attention to the traditional structure of the guru-shishya parampara in Indian education in these sessions.

Parallel paper sessions: These sessions will allow students, teachers and young researchers to present brief papers related to the sets of issues sketched above.