• Naman Vakharia

TEN YEARS OF JSIA, THE PANDEMIC, AND MORE

The Dean of Jindal School of International Affairs reflects on the completion of 10 years of JSIA, the student body, and online classes.

In a country like India, where university education is beaming in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering; the Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA) is innovation and experiment in itself. JSIA emerged in 2011 two years after establishing O.P. Jindal Global University. The school aimed to enrich the conversation around foreign policy and international relations. JSIA's primary goal was to create a learning environment that compliments India as an emerging and growing power,” says Dr. Sreeram Chaulia, Professor and Dean of JSIA on the school's completion of ten years. Professor Chaulia further notes that, “JSIA has changed the perception of Global Studies in India. It did so by bridging the gap between practice and theory of international relations.” Furthermore, the Dean remarks, “JSIA has changed the paradigm by involving practitioners of international relations like former diplomats, policymakers and retired military officers. We have come on a long journey from a Master's program to two undergraduate degrees and one Ph.D. program. Extensive research was conducted on the nuances and complexities of academia attached to international relations to create an institution that is fulfilling for both the faculty and students.”

He also notes, “The fear and anxiety the first batch of Masters in Diplomacy, Law and Business had in 2011; students were uncertain about the school and degree itself. But, with the hard work and effort of students and faculty involved, the school saw a progressive development.” While comparing the present students enrolled in JSIA with the first batch, he adds, “Students are confident and passionate about the discipline and dream the impossible. This challenges our faculty to prepare compelling modules that engage with students and their interests, along with catering to the dynamic nature of the academic discipline.” “What makes JSIA robust and active is the student body who engage in various activities and events throughout the academic year. The student body is responsible, aware, and compassionate. Likewise, students and faculty achievements are my most cherished memories and moments that will stay with me forever. Student activities like the International Youth Conclave conducted by Diplomania sparks joy and showcases the independence and individuality each student possesses,” says Dr. Chaulia. He continues, “Faculty research and book publications make JSIA proud and is a testament of JSIA's commitments towards academic freedom and research-driven pedagogy. Even the guest lectures and visits by foreign dignitaries and government officials, like the late former President Pranab Mukherjee, celebrate student curiosity and enhance the capabilities of the school.” Dr. Chaulia further says, “JSIA's faculty's research influences the larger policy goals of the country. For instance, the Center for Border Studies indulges students in various research internships, which help develop the understanding of the border areas of India and challenges faced in those areas. The school is involved in training diplomats and government officials on various aspects of Indian foreign policy. But the ultimate purpose of JSIA is to re-orient students and equip them with skills that can help them understand the other side of international relations. “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone. The university campus has gone online, and I miss the hustle and bustle of students on campus. Classrooms are empty, and the life of the university seems to be missing. The university and faculty members have participated in multiple training sessions to make online education seamless. All of us are trying our best to cope with the voids of online classes. We must acknowledge digital connectivity and use it to our greatest advantage,” says the Dean on the ongoing pandemic. He concludes on an optimistic note, adding, “Hang in there and do not give up. Stand in solidarity with one another and understand your classmates and faculty. The year 2021 will be better, and I am hoping all of you will be back on campus. Let's stay positive and keep the morale high.”

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