SSLA is keen to promote research work and output for faculty and students. Apart from the program requirements of dissertation and seminar, students engage in intensive research work along with the Research Cell, Faculty Projects and Special Research Centers. SSLA also annually publishes the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
The Research Cell is aimed at enhancing the research capacity of faculty and students. Students at SSLA undergo thorough Research Method courses followed by a Dissertation and a Seminar Paper which are coordinated by the cell.
The Research Cell is also responsible for informing students about intercollegiate research opportunities and encouraging students to publish original work in leading journals and presenting at conferences. The cell also organizes Academic Writing workshops in order to hone writing and analytical skills of students. Moreover, the Cell also encourages faculty and students alike to take up research projects on contemporary local, national and international issues.
Activities of the Research Cell are coordinated by Khaliq Parkar, Sumithra Surendralal, and Vaidyanatha GV.
SSLA students and faculty collaborate on small and large research projects. Some notable
The Indian Association for Big History (IABH) emerged out of the interaction of a group of
scholars who worked together to produce the landmark collection, From the Big Bang to
Galactic Civilizations: A Big History Anthology (2015–2017). During the process of editing
the three volumes, it was proposed to form an Indian association for big history. Anita
Patanka, director of the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA) in Pune, Maharashtra
offered it a home at her institution in 2016.
IABH members presenting at the Godrej Centre, Mumbai, 22 November 2016
Our founding members were archaeologist Shweta Sinha Deshpande and historian Afshan
Majid (Symbiosis International University, Pune); geographer Rana Singh (Banaras Hindu
University, Varanasi); ecologist Robert Athickal (Tarumitra, Patna); educator Orla O’Reilly
Hazra and theologian Prashant Olelaker (St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai); physicist
Priyadarshini Karve (Samuchit Enviro Tech, Pune); anthropologist Siddhartha (Fireflies
Intercultural Centre, Bangalore); philosopher Ananta Giri (Madras Institute of Development
Studies, Chennai); science philosopher Mathew Chandrankunnel (Indian School of
Ecumenical Theology, Bangalore); and management director Subhash Sharma (Indus
Business Academy, Bangalore). Barry Rodrigue, an anthropologist from North America,
served as the group’s coordinator and secretary, joining the faculty at SSLA in 2017.
IABH meeting, SSLA, 29 November 2016.
First big history class, SSLA Feb 2018
In January 2018, SSLA offered the first course in big history in South Asia, which was taught
by professors Afshan Majid, Priyadarshini Karve and Barry Rodrigue. The course, ‘Humanity and Big History: Our Challenge for Survival’, is now part of the core curriculum that is taken
by all third-year students. SSLA also hosted an international conference on Interdisciplinary
Studies and Big History in March 2018 in partnership with the Indian Association for Big
History and the Asian Big History Association. The connection between interdisciplinarity
and big history was no accident. SSLA is the first undergraduate programme in liberal arts in
India (2011), with interdisciplinarity being central to its mission. In this way, big history is
seen as a form of super-interdisciplinarity, one that reflects the progressive and innovative
nature of its work.
The IABH has three co-cordinators
Shweta Sinha Deshpande, academic coordinator
Afshan Majid, corresponding coordinator
Siddhartha, community coordinator
The IABH works cooperatively with the International Big History Association and the Asian
Big History Association. In 2020 the three organizations will combine efforts to host the first
IBHA conference in Asia.
SSLA works in partnership with J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo to co-sponsor international
peace centres. Our two universities are also where the two first courses on big history were
offered in Asia – at Oberlin in 2016 and at SSLA in 2018. In this way, we have linked big
history to contemporary issues.
Nobuo Tsujimura, Atsushi Nagaoka, Hirofumi Katayama. J.F. Oberlin University, Tokyo at SSLA for the Conference on Interdisciplinarity and Big History
Priya, Siddhartha & Barry
Carl, Barry, Penelope, Anjali, Ahao
Early Big History in India
One of the first big historians in India was Tom Gehrels (1925–2011) a professor of
astronomy at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona (USA). He did his Ph.D. in
astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago in 1956, where he studied under
Indian astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Besides his educational work, as with the
Space Science Series that he initiated at the University of Arizona Press, he also pioneered
technical research and practical applications. He was principal investigator of the Pioneer 10
and 11 imaging photopolarimeters, which discovered Saturn’s F ring, and participated in the
discovery of over 4,000 asteroids and comets. Dr Gehrels founded the Spacewatch Project in
1980, which uses telescopes on Kitt Peak to survey the sky for dangerous asteroids and
comets, a project he led until 1997. He was a lifetime Fellow of the Physical Research
Laboratory in Ahmedabad, India. Tom’s final work was a tribute to his mentor, in which he
used Chandra’s formulation for mass to describe the multiverse, an expanded view of
existence wherein our universe is part of a much larger multiverse. This essay was published
in the third volume of our anthology in 2017.
Kitt Peak Observatory
Our three-volume book series, From the Big Bang to Galactic Civilizations: A Big History
Anthology, is the first international and comprehensive collection of essays relating to the field
of big history and universal studies. It includes articles by 100 scholars from 25 nations.
Barry Rodrigue, Leonid Grinin, Andrey Korotayev (editors), From the Big Bang to Galactic
Civilizations: A Big History Anthology, Delhi: Ratna Sagar Publishing/Primus Books,
Our Place in the Cosmos: Big History and Universal Consciousness
SSLA collaborated with the International Journal for the Transformation of Consciousness,
which is based in Bangalore and edited by Mathew Chandrankunnel, to produce a collection
of philosophical essays relating to big history and universal studies.
Our Place in the Cosmos: Big History and Universal Consciousness, special edition of The
International Journal for the Transformation of Consciousness, vol. 3, no. 1, June 2017. Barry
Rodrigue, lead editor.
Cultural Spaces for Sustainable Futures
Members of the IABH collaborated with the Fireflies Intercultural Centre in Bangalore and
managed by Siddhartha to produce a collection of essays relating to big history and
Siddhartha and Srikanth Chakraborty, Cultural Spaces for Sustainable Futures, Bangalore:
Pipal Tree / Meeting Rivers Publications, 2018.
The Symbiosis Collaborative for Asian Ethnography is an extension of the Anthropology and
History Departments at SSLA. Faculty and students work together to collaborate with public
and private agencies and individuals to document social and cultural heritage throughout the
region. Begun in the autumn of 2017 as a faculty-student endeavour, projects were started in
our region of the Sahyadri Mountains and adjoining areas of the Konkan Coast and Deccan
Plateau. In addition, the faculty have their own on-going research projects.
Arshiya Dutt at the Tribal Museum, Pune
Najiba Yasmin, Tanvi Shah, Abhiman Paul, Sakshi Saldanha, Anupoma Bandyopadhyay at the Lohegoan Megalith
Our Collaborative initiates, manages and coordinates heritage projects. Activities underway are in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kachchh, and the North East. For more information please contact us,
Barry H. Rodrigue, Anthropologist, Faculty in-charge
Afshan Majid, Ethnohistorian, Faculty in-charge
Shweta Sinha Deshpande, Archaeologist
Manjari Jonnalagadda, Biological Anthropologist
Symbiosis Collaborative for Asian Ethnography
Director’s Office, Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, Symbiosis Campus, S. No. 227, Plot
11, 3rd Floor, Symbiosis Road, Viman Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra 411014 India
Barry and Afshan at Lohagad Fort,
Barry Rodrigue in Soliga tribal territories,
Biligirirangana Hills, Karnataka, May 2018.