Organized jointly by the University of Birmingham, Melbourne University and Delhi University and hosted by the Department of Political Science at Delhi, this week long, intensive course provides expert tuition on changing understandings and practices of security in the contemporary globalized world and their relevance and application to the South Asian regional context specifically. It equips students to understand how security thinking and practice have evolved in response to critiques and new ideas, dynamic and changing political circumstances, and new and emerging forms of global, transnational and local insecurity. As such, the syllabus covers not only traditional state-centric, military-based and externally-oriented forms of national and international security, but also critical and human security approaches, in session-led by experts in these fields. Topics covered range from the implications of the rise of China for the Indo-Pacific region, to the security challenges of forced migration, and South Asian contributions to UN peacekeeping; contributions that famously include the world’s first all-female peacekeeping forces.
Working in collaboration with students based in Delhi and Melbourne, Birmingham students are able to hone their presentational skills. The assessment regimes also includes an innovative learning log, the purpose of which is to reflect upon your individual learning and intellectual development in a unique cross-cultural teaching and learning environment.
A once in a lifetime trip demands space for extra-curricular activities, including opportunities to engage with practitioners. As Mahatma Gandhi famously held; ‘an ounce of practice is worth a thousand words.’ In 2019, seminar based learning was supplemented with a trip to the Australia India Institute to discuss security challenges in the region from the perspective of practitioners.
And we must build in time for sightseeing, of course. You cannot visit Delhi without taking in the towering presence of India Gate, the Qutab Minar a wonderful example of Indo–Islamic architecture, the beautiful Bahai Temple, fashioned in the shape of a lotus flower, and the imposing Red Fort, a relic from Mughal India which has come to symbolize the Indian peoples’ struggle for independence. For most people, however, the highlight of their time in India is undoubtedly the end of the week student pilgrimage to Agra. Clambering into a shared taxi, blurry eyed, at 3am is a test of endurance after a jam-packed week of activities, but it is well worth the effort. The Taj Mahal at day break, its dome transformed into shimmering gold by the early morning sun, and its resplendent gardens free from the throng of tourists who will descend on the site later in the day, is a memory to be cherished.
See you next year? I hope so!
Dr Jill Steans, Course Convenor.