Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Consilience Club
A few weeks ago, I floated this idea of a club which would enable interaction amongst all the stakeholders at my B-school (GNIMS). The result is this following thought which will be implemented shortly & I also hope will last till perpetuity enriching the experience of every student stepping in to the institute.
The Consilience Club
We live in the primeval land of education, where knowledge is still looked upon as a function of how much we score in the exam. This unfashionable attitude towards education ensures that we have been successfully diluting our knowledge but not improving it. It also proves a fact that the human brain is perfectly capable of forgetting huge chunks of meticulously collected & churned information in a matter of weeks. Although we thrive on this system & the system thrives on us, some of us constantly look for a way out.
So is there an escape hatch?
What is this Consilience anyway?
Consilience, adopted from the title of E.O. Wilson’s book, literally means a jumping together of knowledge. Each branch of knowledge is fundamentally interconnected with each other. Each acts as a study of a subset of reality. For instance, Physics is the study of the smallest particles to the basic forces. Chemistry is an interaction between these smallest particles & the emergent outcome of their interac-tion. Biology on the other hand is a study of properties emergent from the interaction of millions of chemical particles forming biological life, in the form of cells. Psychology is a study of interaction be-tween billions of cells forming complex neural connections. Sociology, anthropology, economics, each in turn studies the emergent properties from the interaction amongst individual humans. Similarly man-agement is a study of how well these individuals interact & how productive they can be. From the hard sciences to the socio-economic sciences, we can always draw parallels of thought.
To understand these inherent interconnections, we need to understand the relationships between them; how each field derives inputs from every other & their feedback. We read textbooks, we attend lectures, but does it occur to us what we actually take back from them? It is indeed an endeavor for the mind to really comprehend the implications of it all. We read, we watch movies, the same en-deavor is necessary to take some inherent understanding from these media as well. The Consilience Club aims at not just enabling the mind to observe & learn from various media, but also to help us un-derstand better. Through interaction, through each other’s experiences, we can strive to reach a level of abstraction that we would seldom achieve through rote classroom learning. The club doesn’t act as a substitute for the lecture or textbook, but a supplement for the mind to interpret what we are actually supposed to interpret & with 10 times the fun. Through discussion, analysis, review, brainstorming, we can be sure to hope to find the elixir of management. After all what good is management education if we just walk away with the jargons !
The club consists of two attempts to make the afore mentioned possible, in the form of books & movies. “On the Same Page” (title borrowed from Legg Mason's book club) is an earnest attempt to create a platform for discussion, review, critique, appreciation or even outright debate (with some chair throwing) about something that we might have read, found interesting & would love to share. The benefit of this exercise is to come up with a thought that we found interesting in some material that we might have read & to enlighten others & inculcate an urge within them to read & share our insight.
The exercise not only results into updated knowledge but also, maybe an epiphany about some-thing, anything that might turn into an original thought. Serendipity strikes us when we least expect it. We can be sure to expect that this would make text book gyaan a lot more interesting & would actually make us aware of what ammo we have stacked in the library.
“ReeLearn” is another such attempt, with an exactly overlapping purpose but with motion pic-tures. We review, discuss, appreciate, & debate on movies, documentaries, TV shows, short films, ads & anything & everything that has moving images in it. The idea is not just to learn from them, but also to know each others opinions & expresisons a little better in the process.
The Consilience Club meets at 1730 hrs on a Thursday of every week in the college campus. On the Same Page being a book review activity, it will be scheduled every alternate Thursday. It will in-volve [absolutely] anyone, voluntarily coming forth with a discussion, debate, review or anything in that ballpark about a book, an article, a research paper, or anything printed that has caught our eye & is worth sharing. The activity will involve an informal discussion or even a formal presentation about the object being reviewed. The club is open for membership for students, teaching as well as the non-teaching staff at GNIMS & costs us nothing but small chunks of our time.
The ReeLearn activity will be scheduled every alternate Thursday at 1730 hrs in the campus, We watch a film & using it as a backdrop try to derive a parallel with what we otherwise call classroom learning; a film with an immanent management theme or even anything generally interesting.
The member(s) initiating the reviews need to submit at least a 200 words synopsis a couple of days prior to the actual club meet. This is to ensure a workable schedule to be put up a day before the meet.
We study in the same campus, we use the same resources, we spend more or less same time at the same place, but how well do we know each other? We as a management students need to develop an extremely important & yet taken for granted skill, networking. The more we interact, the more we know about each other, the more we listen to each other’s views the more we develop our own & even better, criticize someone else’s with flair. A network is built on not only what we can take from the network, but also with what we can add to the network.
What we so easily claim to know as Value Addition, can soon be turned into Value Addiction & set us on a trajectory where we learn & belong to a common goal.