Asking the Big Questions
At age 41, Dr. Iven Jose is a young man, yet a great deal of his energy is devoted to thinking about even younger generations. Dr. Iven serves as the associate dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Christ University in India, and his experience as a 2016-2017 United Board Fellow helped him expand his ideas about holistic education and ways to prepare young adults for their professional and personal lives.
Dr. Iven arrived for his two-month placement at the University of Melbourne in Australia in September, but he began preparing for the experience months earlier. He corresponded with his University of Melbourne mentor, Dr. Anne Steinemann about his goals and interests, so they could start to plan his schedule. He conducted research about the city of Melbourne to better understand the socio-cultural environment the university operates in. He also prepared a short questionnaire to help structure the interviews he expected to conduct with faculty and administrators. “I had a vision,” Dr. Iven said. “I wanted to ensure my placement culminated in something worthwhile for my home institution.”
Engineering, naturally, and opportunities for future academic exchange and collaborative research were topics he raised in the many meetings he had on campus and in the wider Melbourne community. But his discussions often went beyond the engineering discipline to issues of values and purpose. “For instance,” he explained, “I asked the coordinator of the university’s Department of Infrastructure Engineering questions such as ‘How do you look at the university model?’ and ‘How do you ensure ethics and morality?’” These types of conversations showed him that University of Melbourne faculty want to do more than deliver a class: they are looking ahead to the varied responsibilities that students will need to assume over the course of careers or in family life.
On the Melbourne campus, Dr. Iven noticed the large number of international students, including many from China. “This is a big responsibility for the university, in terms of global citizenship,” he said. He was impressed with the ways in which the university reflects upon its role in educating these students. “The university is asking what these students will take back to their home countries when they graduate. Yes, they will have an education, but what can they contribute to the social development of their country?”
“What is the ethos of the university?” Dr. Iven asked. “What will it evolve into?” Christ University responds to these questions with its mission of “excellence and service” and its practice of holistic education. Now, back on the Christ University campus, Dr. Iven can draw on the insights he gained in Melbourne as he ponders his own question, “How can we make the planet a beautiful place to live?”
To read a story about Dr. Iven’s host institution, the University of Melbourne, and his mentor, Dr. Anne Steinemann, click here.