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Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS)
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Creating a Culture of Interdisciplinarity

The Conceptual Rationale for the IIS


An ancient Chinese proverb says that the yang - one of the two polar opposites in the cyclic motion of the Tao - having reached its climax retreats in favour of the other, yin. If the methodic ideal of purity dominant in the systematic thought reduced the modern pursuit of truth into a one-way-traffic, whereby every specialist contemplates reality solely through the spectacles of one’s own specialization, the post-modern strategy of the human quest for understanding has retrieved in the opposite direction showing an unprecedented level of systematic interdisciplinary attention. More than ever, we realize today that society needs “not genius in isolation, but scholars in collaboration.” Most of today’s scientific discoveries are carried out by a team of researchers and scholars from various fields, often in unhealthy isolation from one another in the name of disciplinary focus. 


We are at the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. An analysis of the cultural and social outcome of the past academic and industrial revolutions has come to recognize that the fundamental problem underneath our cultural crisis is found to be a profound confusion about how to be in the world; an uncertainty as to how we can think and act scientifically and humanely, critically and spiritually, technologically and ethically. We realize that in the process of our historical and cultural evolution, we have failed to integrate the academic and the popular, the scientific and the human, the critical and the spiritual, and the technical and ethical, and the developmental and the ecological. 

The convergence of NBIC (Nano-Bio-Information and Cognitive) Technologies is already defining the present trajectories of the scientific development. The fourth industrial revolution will be built on the convergence of all kinds of technologies-- Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Ethics, Robotics, and related new and future entries. It will be exciting times for humanity but we need to be vary about one trend -- we need to differentiate a technologically-assisted humane future and ensure that it is not taken over by a cold, inhuman, dystopian technocratic vision of the present and the future. 

The proliferation of disciplines, subjects, fields and other innumerable categories into which knowledge has come to be divided and categorized has led to a severe lack of communication amongst these different constituencies.  This will ultimately stultify academic research and development. Though specialization has its many advantages as in the area of technology, it also has the danger of losing a holistic view of the matter at hand which may lead to sub-optimal approaches to problem-solving which will defeat the very purpose of knowledge creation. Moreover, history has shown that interaction between civilizations, cultures, societies, and peoples has always led to the progress of humankind.
We urgently need a “culture of interdisciplinarity.” We need to be ready not only to face the world with expertise from different university-based fields (disciplines) but also with different communities that produce knowledge about the world differently. Spirituality, ethics, religion and philosophy have to dialogue with social, natural and biological sciences. The scientists need to dialogue with artists and mystics. Such a liberating dialogical approach will not only contribute to the sustainability of our civilization but also its re-generation for the generations that will come to replace us in the unfolding of the human drama.

It is against this fragmentary backdrop of our knowledge-pursuit that the alternative paradigm of the interdisciplinary pursuit of knowledge is defined as the mission of the proposed Interdisciplinary Institute.

Aim and Objectives of the Institute


The aims comprise two sets of activities:

(i) Foundational Aim

  1. To nurture a culture of interdisciplinarity by pooling together resources, individual scholars and academic groups for specific interdisciplinary research that are contextually relevant, and to disseminate the insights from these research among the larger academic and popular audience through publications, seminars, consultancy, etc.

  2. To act as a nodal platform for the active Jesuit scholars in various fields to display their accomplishments and to interact and network in advancing their individual research pursuits along interdisciplinary lines for the larger benefit of the society.  

To facilitate the above, we have the following operational aims:

(ii) Operational Aims

  1. Constituting a forum of dynamic scholars from the humanities, social sciences and the natural sciences who share some commonality of vision and who are prepared to explore and expand the interdisciplinary horizons of their research with inputs from the networking team.

  2. Funding select number of interdisciplinary research by the affiliated scholars and facilitating the publication of the research output in national and international journals.

  3. Identifying the interdisciplinary gap in the present plans, projects and research programmes in addressing the social challenges and problems confronted by India in general and Kerala in particular and offer policies and suggest directions towards solving them.

  4. A special commitment to enhance the interdisciplinary momentum generated by the New Education Policy by launching special ventures such as consultancies, seminars, refresher courses, etc. targeting the faculty at the universities, colleges and schools.   

  5. Launching an e-journal with a unique focus on interdisciplinary publications with an academic as well as popular thrust. 

  6. Offer consultancy support to government and civil society organizations on critical local and global issues.

  7. Help establish interdisciplinary Faculties, Departments and Courses in Universities and Colleges.

  8. Hosting a minimum of one conference annually of the Jesuit scholars and activists in diverse fields for the interdisciplinary enrichment of their mission. 


Organisation of the Institute

  1. The institute will be established and operated under the aegis of the Kerala Province of the Society of Jesus with support and cooperation from academic institutions and organizations sharing similar vision.

  2. The institute will be located at Loyola Extension Services (LES)/LES Multiversity, Loyola College of Social Sciences (LCSS) Campus, Sreekaryam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

  3. The financial support of the institute will be through a totally transparent mechanism of donations from Governments, NGOs, and other funding agencies. IIS will be a non-profit undertaking.  The activities of the institute will not be dictated by any ideology other than that of peace-building amongst human beings.

 

Research Priorities


The primary priority of the institute is interdisciplinary research and knowledge creation in the lines of Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in New Mexico, USA. SFI actually concentrates on work in different scientific disciplines. But, IIS will cover specific areas in Sciences and the Humanities as well as the Arts.


Research proposals will be invited from the following interdisciplinary areas, but not limited to them:

 

  1. Research on the Intersection between Humanities and the Natural Sciences particularly relevant to Kerala and India.

  2. Educational Research required by the recent Integral Philosophies and models of Education

  3. Research on the promotion of Peace drawing on the latest findings and insights from developments in social sciences, humanities and cognitive sciences. 

  4. Research in Law leading to new legislations and reformation of existing laws informed by the recent scientific and social knowledge.

  5. Research on the ethical, legal and social implications of the emerging scientific technologies.

  6. Research on the foundational philosophical and spiritual implications, boundary questions and mystery dimensions in the developments in various branches of sciences.


Research on Jesuits and Secular Engagement

 

  1. Migrants and Refugees: How to enhance the social entrepreneurship of the excluded?

  2. Fisheries sector: How new social studies, networking models and scientific approaches can enhance the well-being of the fisher folk?

  3. The Adivasi Wisdom and Modernity: How the traditional wisdom and knowledge of the Tribals and the Adivasis can inform the paradigm shifts in modern healthcare approaches?

  4. Culture and Theology: How the Vision of Dr. Sebastian Kappen can impact a change in the religious and spiritual paradigms and practices of Kerala? 


Governing Body

 

  • Provincial, Kerala Jesuits

  • Principal, Loyola College

  • Principal, St. Xavier’s College

  • Director, IIS

  • Executive Director, IIS

  • Dean/Associate Dean, IIS

  • Programme Coordinator, IIS

Faculty and Academic Associates 

  • Dr. Ted Peters (CTNS, Berkeley, USA)

  • Dr. Thomas Cattoi (JST-SCU, California)

  • Dr. John Shea (Creighton University, USA)

  • Dr. Nelson Velandia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)

  • Dr. Kifle Wansamo (Hekima Institute of Peace Studies, Nairobi)

  • Dr. George Pattery (Former Professor, Visva-Bharati University, West Bengal)

  • Dr. K. Babu Joseph (Former Vice Chancellor, CUSAT)

  • Dr. Jacob Thomas (Editor, Pax Lumina)

  • Dr. Sonajharia Minz (Vice Chancellor, Sido Kanhu Murmu University, Jharkhand)

  • Dr. Jancy James (Former Vice Chancellor, Central University of Kerala)

  • Dr. Sabu Thomas (Vice Chancellor, MG University, Kottayam)

  • Dr. K.K. Jose ( Director, Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, MG University, Kottayam)

  • Dr. M.P. Mathai (Adjunct Professor, Gujrat Vidyapit)

  • Dr. M.K. George (Former Principal, Loyola College of Social Sciences, Trivandrum)

  • Dr. Paramjyot Singh (CPJ-XLRI Jamshedpur)

  • Dr. P.T. Mathew (Former Dean, Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi)

  • Dr. Sr. Beena Jose (Dept. of Chemistry, Vimala College, Trissur)

  • Shiv Visvanathan (Professor, OP Jindal Global University, Haryana)

  • Dr. Augustine Pamplany (ISR, Aluva)

  • Dr. Kuruvilla Pandikkattu (XLRI Jamshedpur)

  • Dr. Vincent Pereppadan (LES, Trivandrum)

  • Dr. Ranjit George (Loyola College, Trivandrum)

  • Dr. Dolichan Kollarath (Dept. of Psychology, Jnanadeepa, Pune)

  • Dr. Saji Jacob (Principal, Loyola College of Social Sciences, Trivandrum)

  • Dr. Vincent Braganza(St. Xavier’s College, Ahmadabad)

  • Dr. Achuthsankar (Dept. of Computational Biology, Kerala University)

  • Prof. Dr. KM. Mathew (LIPI, Kochi)

  • Dr. Joe Arun (LIBA, Chennai)

  • Dr Miguel Farias (Oxford University)

  • Dr Bert Gordijn (Dublin City University, Ireland)

  • Job Kozhamthadam (Indian Institute of Science and Religion, Delhi)
     

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