The United Nations awarded Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham its second UNESCO Chair – UNESCO Chair for Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation & Development – on June 12, 2020. Through this new Chair, the university will develop a comprehensive framework for academic engagement to build sustainable communities by designing a curriculum based on experiential learning. This curriculum will enable the academic community to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to implement sustainable solutions among vulnerable and rural communities.
As part of the activities for this Chair, Amrita will conduct PG teaching programs (including Joint Ph.D., Double Ph.D. and dual Masters programs), short-term certificate courses, research (including a seed-grant program for students and faculty), conferences, scholarships, and installation of model labs to check the practicality of solutions for sustainable development before they are implemented in communities. The Chair will be held by Amrita for the next four years under the guidance of Dr. Maneesha V. Ramesh, Dean of International Programs and Director of the Center for Wireless Networks & Applications. As a UNESCO Chair, Amrita becomes part of more than 700 educational institutions that share knowledge and expertise to improve their educational and research capacities. Launched in 1992, the UNESCO Chair program promotes international inter-institutional cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work.
Speaking on the momentous occasion, Dr. Maneesha said, “Amrita received India’s first-ever UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment. It is a great privilege for us to have achieved this recognition once again. Our much-acclaimed experiential learning program, Live-in-Labs®️, was conceptualized by our Chancellor, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, whose vision for Amrita has always included compassion-driven research and sustainable development. Over the years, Live-in-Labs® has contributed towards the sustainable development of rural communities across 21 states in India. This work led to our University being allotted this prestigious UNESCO Chair. We will now be able to take our experiential learning concept to the entire world in collaboration with other UNESCO Chairs and universities across the globe. Through the Chair, Amrita would develop an experiential learning framework to enable an understanding of the challenges faced by members of remote communities, and design sustainable solutions in collaboration with them.”
Amrita will be the coordinating university for the development and implementation of a curriculum, applicable to fourteen selected UN SDGs for sustainable development, by virtue of its extensive experience in conducting the Live-in-Lab® program for the sustainable development of villages in India. After carrying out a systematic pilot implementation of the program and demonstrating its immense success, Amrita intends to scale up the program to national and international levels through the established UNESCO chair under the guidance of the United Nations.
Amrita’s journey in experiential learning began in 2013 following the launch of its flagship academic program – Live-in-Labs®. This credit-based academic initiative allows international students to collaboratively work with Amrita faculty and students towards the sustainable development of Indian rural communities. As an extension of the Live-in-Labs® initiative, Amrita established the fully funded E4Life Ph.D. in Sustainable Development program. The program recently welcomed its very first cohort of national and international fellowship recipients for the 2020-2021 academic year.