The School of Ecology and Environment Studies (SEES) is one of the first schools at Nalanda University. SEES commenced its academic programme in August 2014. The school has a wide academic footprint that is spread across natural and social sciences and seeks to promote education and research with a specific focus on interactions between the natural environment and human activities.
Rooted in the tradition of the ancient Nalanda University, SEES aspires to generate critical understanding that will benefit mankind. The school strives to amalgamate the perspectives of the study of environmental issues between the Orient and the Occident. The school is actively involved in addressing local, regional and global environmental challenges of our times through education, research, collaborations, and policy recommendations.
Our broad idea is to view studies on ecology and the environment as not just an activity to be conducted in the so-called ‘natural’ or ‘pristine’ ecosystems but recognises that ecological and environmental concerns in the human-dominated landscapes and waterscapes in Asia and the global South present to us a distinct, exciting, and socially pertinent teaching and research agenda. In such a scenario, terms such as biodiversity conservation, adaptive management, just transition towards sustainable pathways, etc. take on a distinctly different connotation.
Our research and instructional delivery strategy attempt to incorporate two cross-cutting themes: interdisciplinarity and sustainability. Interdisciplinary investigation is essential to transcend disciplinary barriers that have so far impeded holistic understanding of complex socio-ecological problems. Meaningful interaction across disciplines is only possible by dissolving silos that have rendered many disciplines within ecology and the environment impervious to each other. Our second theme uses sustainability thinking and practice as a placeholder to situate ecological and environmental issues within a larger ethos of enabling and progressing towards development with equity and social justice.
The courses are taught through classroom teaching, student assignments, critical reviews, presentations, laboratory and fieldwork. Relevant case studies covering various aspects of ecological and environmental issues, challenges and success stories are elaborated and discussed during the classroom sessions. To enhance the presentation skills and confidence level, the students were encouraged to give seminar presentations routinely.
The multinational student cohorts at SEES add to the cultural plurality and vibrancy of the campus. The ‘classroom diversity’ is unique to Nalanda University. We leverage it to enhance the pedagogy. Our alumni profile testifies to the effectiveness of the instructional model.