eslaThe Easwari School of Liberal Arts hosted the highly anticipated “Academia-Social Sector Dialogue” event, aiming to foster collaboration between academia and the social sector. The event brought together experts, social actors, scholars, practitioners, and students to engage in insightful discussions about the intersection of education and social sector development.

The event, convened by Prof. Vandana Swami, brought together a distinguished array of social sector leaders, Academicians from various states across India, deans, faculties, and students. It was a day of enlightening discussions and knowledge exchange, aiming to bridge the gap between academia and the social sector.

At the heart of this dialogue was a commitment to nurturing well-rounded, socially conscious leaders of tomorrow. The event provided a platform for students to engage directly with eminent figures from the social sector, fostering a deeper understanding of real-world challenges and opportunities.

The dialogue saw participation from leading social actors, including Liby Johnson (Gram Vikas, Odisha), Ronak Shah (Seva Mandir, Udaipur), Nishant Aggarwal (Donyi Polo Cultural and Charitable Trust, Arunachal Pradesh), Swapna Sarangi (Foundation for Ecological Security, Odisha), Gayatri Menon (Independent Researcher, Public Health Foundation of India, Bengaluru and Academic luminaries, such as Suraj Jacob (Azim Premji University, Bengaluru) and Manu Mathai (World Resources Institute, Bengaluru) Yamini Aiyar, Former President, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi, added depth to the dialogue, offering nuanced perspectives on the intersection of academia and the social sector.

Prof. Vishnupad, Dean of Easwari School of Liberal Arts, expressed his satisfaction with the event’s outcomes, stating, “We are delighted to have facilitated this enriching exchange between academia and the social sector. The discussions were not only insightful but also generative, paving the way for potential future collaborations between students and social sector organisations that can bring about positive change in the society.”

A highlight of the event was the keynote speech by Amitabh Behar, Global Executive Director of OXFAM. Behar’s insights sparked discussions among attendees, leading to reflection and action-oriented dialogue on caste, gender, and economic inequality. This prompted introspection and dialogue on the responsibilities of civil society in addressing these urgent issues.

The event featured thought-provoking panel discussions on two key themes: “Social Sector and the Indian State: Challenges and Opportunities” and “Role of Social Sector in Liberal Arts Education.” Panellists deliberated on the complexities and possibilities within the social sector, exploring ways to address challenges and leverage opportunities for societal progress. The dialogue was not only engaging but also fruitful, laying the groundwork for potential collaborative efforts in the future.

Furthermore, discussions on the Easwari School of Liberal Arts Summer Immersion Programme underscored the institution’s commitment to experiential learning and social impact.

Prof. Vandana Swami, Professor, Easwari School of Liberal Arts remarked, “Academia-Social Sector Dialogue epitomises SRM University-AP’s ethos of excellence, innovation, and social responsibility. It serves as a testament to the university’s unwavering dedication to shaping future leaders who are not only academically proficient but also socially conscious and empathetic global citizens”.

Department of Liberal Arts and the Department of Media Studies, under the aegis of the Easwari School of Liberal Arts at SRM University-AP organised its 2-day International Conference on New Media and its Publics in India. This prestigious conference welcomed renowned figures, including Mr Abhinandan Sekhri, co-founder and CEO of Newslaundry; Dr Ann Feldman, Documentarian and Activist; Dr Meheli Sen, Associate Professor, Department of AMESALL, Director of Cinema Studies Program, Rutgers University; Dr Pramod K Nayar, Professor and UNESCO Chair in Vulnerability Studies, Department of English, University of Hyderabad; Dr Sambaiah Gundimeda, Associate Professor, School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences, KREA University; Mr Rahee Punyashloka, Artist and Filmmaker and Ms Anuradha Nagaraj, Independent Journalist, Faculty at School of Development, Azim Premji University.

In his inaugural address, Vice Chancellor Prof. Manoj K Arora remarked, “We are honoured to host a conference of this magnitude. Media has become an indispensable facet of our contemporary existence; invariably, we all engage with or subscribe to media in some capacity.” Keynote speaker and co-founder of Newslaundry, Mr Abhinandan Sekhri, imparted his wisdom to the attendees, emphasising, “As the fourth pillar, media plays a pivotal role in society. It is imperative that we discern and uphold the principles of authentic journalism.” Prof. Vishnupad, Dean-Easwari School of Liberal Arts, remarked,” Technology and media have become an essential aspect of our lives today, and they have drastically altered our perception of things.”

Dr Meheli Sen, Dr Ann Feldman, Dr Pramod Nayar, Dr Sambaiah Gundimeda, Mr Rahee Punyashloka, and Ms Anuradha Nagarajan all deliberated on the various possibilities and interpretations that the New media offers and thereby shapes the public narratives. The conference also comprised a series of parallel sessions that explored the multifaceted relationship between New Media and various disciplines. Topics discussed included New Media and Literature, Gender, History, Democracy and Performance. Members of the academia presented their research papers, fostering insightful discussions on the evolving landscape of New Media.

The two-day event witnessed 150+ entries from students, scholars and faculties from across the country and the world and provided a platform for intellectual exchange but also fostered a collaborative spirit among participants. The conference concluded with a plenary address by Dr Pramod Nayar, which served as a catalyst for innovative thinking in New Media. Registrar Dr R Premkumar, in his message, applauded the efforts of the convenors, Dr Asijit Dutta and co-convenors Dr Sapna Mishra and Dr Partha Bhattacharjee for organising a scholarly colloquium such as this and remarked, “the exchange of ideas, scholarly debates, and interdisciplinary discussions that transpired here will undoubtedly enrich the academic landscape and advancement in the field of new media”.


International Conference on Media and Its Publics in India