Immersive Experiential Learning:
About 70% of the classes will take place on the field- either while working with the local communities or on construction site for the sustainable habitats course. HIAL aims to revolutionise the learning process by shifting from the classroom and mere theoretical learning. Our students will work with their hands and learn by doing.
Live Learning Labs: Apart from academics, the University will have Live Labs wherein the students will get to work and learn from real-life projects. For instance, under the Applied Ecology module, they will visit different forestation sites, learn about afforestation techniques and also learn to identify native and non-native species. Under the Responsive Buildings module, they will have a project to develop a smart green city around the University using Passive Solar House (PSH) and Natural Building techniques. Similarly, for all the different modules, their learning will be based on fieldwork and actual application of classroom teachings.
3R to 3H:
Instead of solving problems with the conventional 3Rs (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic), we encourage learners to problem solve using the 3Hs: Bright Head, Kind Heart, and Skilled Hands. To successfully implement the 3Hs, HIAL will have the following guiding principles:
- Learning by doing: Well planned and uniquely assessed experiential learning programs stimulate intellectual curiosity, reflection, compassion, and creativity. Therefore, HIAL will encourage learner development through Live Learning Labs that will supplement the traditional academic setting. These opportunities will further instil qualities of leadership, cultural awareness, and entrepreneurship.
- Collaborative Teaching: HIAL is building a network of collaborative partners that will support our efforts in research, teaching, and exchange programs. Guest lectures by visiting faculty and industry experts will be facilitated on a regular basis and learner-facilitator collaborations will be encouraged. Programs will be designed to create a space for learners to share and reflect on their experiences.
- Research and innovation: Research and innovation will drive every aspect of HIAL. Learners at all academic levels will be encouraged to undertake research and creative endeavours in collaboration with facilitators. These projects will encourage free thinking and help in evolving solutions to address some of the key challenges experienced by mountain communities.
Earning while Learning:
During the 3 months when the students are working on their Experiential Learning Projects (ELPs), they will get the opportunity to work on their own (either individually or in teams) where they will earn by setting up their own enterprises. The team at the University will help the fellows in setting up these enterprises.
The fourth term of the HILLs fellowship would be the “Experiential Learning Project (ELP)” wherein the fellows will finalise their project or the “Big Idea” that they have been working on for the entire year. This will comprise an 8-week long internship in December and January and a 4-week long ELP breaks during the winters designated exclusively for ELP work.
The ELP serves as an effective platform for the fellows to pursue their “Big Idea” and also to actively create solutions for the mountain communities. Fellows also learn strategic thinking, design thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, communication skills, project management, planning and execution through the implementation of their ELPs. The objectives of these projects are to:
- Help the fellows to achieve their Big Idea
- Actively engage with people on the field and also the local communities
- Develop indigenous sustainable solutions for the mountain regions
- Develop their collaborative and leadership skills
- Empower the local communities in the process
- Learn about their own selves and to bond with their co-fellows and mentors
Fellows get to run the campus on their own wherein they will learn and apply important leadership and governance skills. While at the HILLs fellowship, it is the fellows who will manage coordination, logistics and field work to get exposure to the actual workings on the ground which will better equip them for real life post the fellowship.
At HILLs, the fellows are partners in the campus ecosystem and its governance. They serve as equal collaborators and take part in the running of the program and share responsibilities. Coordinators are elected from amongst the fellows and duties are rotated every month.
Student-run-campus and student governments are key elements of the 3R to 3H model of learning. By running their own campus and managing day-to-day activities, students learn essential life skills.
Working with the Local Community:
The University’s model is designed in a manner so that it works from deep within the community. This ensures that the local community is involved in every step, from early discussions to the implementation aspect. The process is aimed at empowering the village communities, with emphasis on women and children. For instance, the farm stays initiative helps the locals in earning money from tourism and prevents migration to metro cities. The very existence of the University is closely tied with the ideology of inclusion.
Fellows will be working closely with the local communities to develop innovative solutions which combine the wisdom from traditional knowledge with modern technology. Working from within the community enables them to find original answers that account for the specific needs and challenges faced by the locals.
They will also use their skills to further established initiatives. For instance, the fellows will be helping out with the outreach for the farm stays.