St Mary’s Educational Society
1. Title of the Practice: Celebrating International Days on Campus.
2. Goal: St. Mary’s College, and its parent body, the St. Mary’s Educational Society, aim to foster the highest standards in students’ holistic development. The College wants to create global citizens rooted in Indian ethos. This is also aligned with our focus on student experience and comprehensive learning.
3. The Context: To prepare students to be part of the international community, the college celebrates a host of international days with an array of cultural, social and diverse themes. This is to enable our students to experience and understand the world community better and appreciate the diversity that exists in the world. The world outside campus is increasingly multi-cultural and it is important that students are equipped to live and work in a competitive and multicultural world.
4. The Practice: While planning for the following semesters, Principal’s Leadership Circle, comprising all Heads of the Department, identify around 8 international days to be celebrated on campus, to promote cultural, social and global ambience in the institution and list them to be celebrated by departments as their initiative. The Department of English and Languages have celebrated the ‘Bastille Day’ and ‘International Mother Language Day’ in the last few years. The Department of Commerce has celebrated the ‘International Day for the Girl Child’ and the ‘International Day of Happiness’ in two different years. The Counselling Cell celebrates ‘Suicide Prevention Day’ and the Gratitude Week. The Department of Management has celebrated the ‘World Food Day’. The Foreign Students Cell organised the ‘International Students’ Day’, which was a celebration of the culture and history of all nations represented by students on St Mary’s College campus. Men staff and the Staff Association organise the ‘International Womens Day’ every year. ’The World Statistics Day’ was celebrated by The Department of Sciences. Each of these occasions result in the institution being decked up in varied hues, festive atmosphere and lot of fun element on each of these occasions. These days are a sight to behold and the media coverage of many of these events is a clear indicator of the impact it had on the students, teachers and also the society at large. On some of these days, not just the departments, but even student clubs aligned their events to observe the spirit of the day. Often, students would come up with self-decided dress codes and would event put up food stalls which serve food that fits the theme of the day.
5. Evidence of Success: A clear indication of the success of these days is the huge participation for each of the events. Furthermore, the gusto displayed by the organising committee and the participants are evident in abundant measure by all. The sense of belongingness, camaraderie, team work and excitement were an integral part of all the international day celebrations. Student feedback indicates that the celebration of these international days contribute to student experience and comprehensive learning.
6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required: Managing the crowd on some of these days was not very easy, but the departments used the student volunteers who showed tremendous organization skills. Minor hurdles which existed were overcome by the enthusiasm of the participants. All in all, these international days created a positive atmosphere in the college and the resultant congeniality and camaraderie among students was a sight to behold.
Best Practice II
1. Title of the Practice: Staff Colloquia
2. Goal: Healthy exchange of ideas, information and scope for peer-learning rooted in respect, a key value of the College, through inter-disciplinary presentations is the purpose behind having a colloquium session every fortnight.
3. The Context: Colloquia are arranged once every fortnight to enable individuals from different department to express their ideas on a theme of their choice. Most of the topics for presentation are chosen to appeal to other colleagues from different departments and the relevance of these topics and the content presented are always beyond the limits of a particular field of study.
4. The Practice: Each Department gets its turn by rotation and the Colloquium dates are included in the Academic Calendar. Staff members from a department who is keen on presenting their ideas approach the Head of the Department, weeks in advance of their department’s turn. The HoDs give chance to all their faculty members who show interest. The HOD discusses the proposal presented with the teacher who is keen on presenting a topic, and works with him or her in customising it to the broader audience. The HOD initiates the colloquium session by introducing the speaker and the topic, followed by the actual presentation and talk. The practice involves a healthy exchange of ideas, followed by questions and suggestions in the question-answer session. The presentation itself spans between 30 to 45 minutes followed by the Q&A session subsequent to which the IQAC takes a feedback of the session. The feedback is analysed and results sent to the presenter by email. This helps the presenter also work on ideas enabling him or her to develop them further for research or publication.
5. Evidence of Success: Evidence of success of this practice is gauged by the healthy interaction which occurs both during, after and beyond the date of presentation as well. There are professional disagreements too across departmental boundaries and this augurs well for the knowledge community which sometimes is starved of this aspect, especially in undergraduate colleges. Despite the busy schedules of teachers caught up in academic activities, club activities and other mentoring and research roles, most teachers make it a point to attend Colloquia sessions. Often, discussions continue in the cafeteria or in the staff dining room, where teachers continue to interact. The impact of this on the ambience is more than subtle and a culture of open exchange of ideas and thoughts benefit the teacher and the taught, auguring well for the College.
6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required: There are occasions where strong academic disagreements among members on particular ideas have become sharp and emotional, at least temporarily, but professional behaviour sooner than later overcomes such emotional reactions and relations have eventually remained cordial. The other main problem is our lack of control over the College academic calendar, which is changed by the affiliating University with very little notice. This often implies that planned Colloquia sessions have to be rescheduled at short notice, which dampens the spirit of the ones who have prepared well in anticipation of the event.