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Transforming Education

Joined up Thinking: Connecting Classrooms

Unlimited by geographical or disciplinary boundaries and with global ambitions, our Education Incubator is investing in cultivating innovation and collaboration in teaching, empowering a partnership approach between academics and students, challenging traditional thinking and testing emerging ideas.

Our Connecting Classrooms project is just one excellent example of this approach and sets out to develop a South Asian history module (Post-Colonial South Asia) that can be taught and learned simultaneously and collaboratively in virtually connected classrooms at Exeter and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

Allowing students to interact with their peers in Pakistan, the project offers a blend of various research expertise and geographical locations, helping students and researchers to interrogate their own position, looking at South Asia as an active subject to study, analyse and work with, rather than an object that they can observe passively and about which simplistic conclusions can be drawn.

Most importantly, the module has been designed in such a way that the ‘problems’ of South Asia are not distanced and separated from those of Britain, to enable students to make connections.

Introducing students to the political, social, cultural and economic development of South Asia from 1947, the module pays proportionate attention to the histories of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The aim is to integrate different ways and methods of interpreting the region using a consciously multi-disciplinary approach.

“We want to push for an understanding that there may be different ways of teaching and learning about the societies, cultures and histories of South Asia, and many of these can be and are done more interestingly in Pakistan”.

Fatima Naveed

Project Assistant

Typical historical studies of South Asia end in 1947, the year India and Pakistan became separate countries and were freed from British rule. Post-1947 South Asia tends to be studied by political scientists, geographers, economists and others, who pay lesser attention to historical processes, and has led to South Asia being viewed through pre-conceived theoretical lenses as a series of crises and paradoxes.

The course enables students to make a longer-term temporal analysis, using insights from multiple disciplines, and equips them to see how the apparent paradoxes of South Asian politics, economics, environment, society and culture are expressions of long-standing dialectical and dialogical processes.

The module also aims to develop students’ skills in researching, interpreting and analysing both primary and secondary sources - skills that are necessary to studying histories of the Global South.

“Considering the identities of our students, we are aware that no one geographical location has a monopoly on ‘expertise’, however we are equally insistent that nor does one’s degree level determine their level of understanding of any topic”.

Fatima Naveed

Project Assistant

A short tech trial in March 2021 tested the logistics of online classrooms for teaching and learning and highlighted just how essential human connection is to academia. The focus is on how the spirit of collaboration is kept alive even through a screen by a shared understanding of language, culture and current affairs.

The project has successfully produced an accredited module that will be taught for the first time in spring 2022. The team are also aiming to use the module as a springboard for developing an Exeter-LUMS Masters in South Asian studies.