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In order to achieve the ends enumerated above, the Institute of Knowledge Societies has been engaged in several activities and proposes many more for the future. While there are several directions that IKS could take, one of the core areas of interest of the IKS is the interface of new technologies with indigenous knowledge systems in all its varied forms.

Ongoing Activities, Partnerships and Publications

  • IKS has begun a project to map the cultures of the tribes of India, starting with Odisha, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, on a GIS platform using Audio, video, text, AR and VR technologies.

  • IKS has initiated a research projects on the Use of Smart phone/mobile phones among Youth of five tribal communities of Odisha.

  • IKS has entered into and signed a MOU with the Institute of Koorie Education of the Deakin University, Australia which works in the areas of indigenous peoples and cultures.

  • IKS has signed a MOU with Commonwealth of Learning, Canada to develop skill courses for tribal students in line with the National Occupational Standard Qualification Pack. IKS has developed 4 media and entertainment skill courses and 40 instructional videos in English and Odia.

  • IKS has signed a MOU with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Delhi for the preservation of tribal arts and culture

  • IKS has signed a MOU with National Lalit Kala Academy, Delhi for support in documentation and display of tribal arts and culture

  • IKS has signed a MOU with SC & ST Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), Odisha for collaborative research and documentation in the area of tribal studies

  • IKS has technical collaboration with  C COM Ltd, New Zealand for setting up of the digital documentation section.

  • For conservation and promotion of minority languages, education, healthcare and empowerment of Adivasi communities, IKS has collaborated with Bhasha Trust, Gujarat

  • For implementation in field, IKS is working in partnership with BREDS, Harsha Trust and other civil society organisations actively working among tribal communities.

  • IKS organized the Indian Folklore Congress at Parlakhemundi campus in February 2015 where about hundred scholars, both National and International, attended.

  • IKS organized a seminar on Tribal Cultures and Odia in February 2015.

  • IKS organized an international conference on “Narativising Indigeneity” in February 2016 at its Paralakhemundi Campus.

  • In February 2017, IKS organized an International Conference on “Religion in Digital Asia” at its Bhubaneswar Campus.

  • IKS has set up a model tribal village within the Paralakhemundi campus with emphasis on traditional livelihoods and skills. This is envisioned to become a site for social research on sustainable livelihoods and sustainable technology intervention.

  • IKS has established a Museum of Tribal Agriculture for protecting and ergonomically redesigning traditional agricultural tools

  • IKS has initiated a community Repository of Traditional Medicinal Practices of the region.

  • IKS has begun to regenerate indigenous millets and other crops along with traditional dietary habits.

  • IKS has set up a Tribal Web Radio and Media Resource Center.

  • Researchers associated with IKS have published their findings during three International Conferences held at the Paralakhemundi campus of the University in 2015 and 2016. IKS has brought out a book, “Repositioning Folklore and Indigenous Knowledge Systems”. Another book, “Narartivizing Indigeneity” is under progress.

Activities for the future-

  • IKS and the Institute of Koorie Education will launch an International Journal dedicated to Indigenous Studies and Knowledge Systems.

  • IKS will bring out various publications on Indigenous Cultures, Languages and Sustainable Livelihoods and its interface with mainstream.

  • IKS will bring out a book on the Indigenous Agricultural Implements of the Saura tribes.

  • IKS has applied to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for a license to set up a Tribal Community Radio Station that will run in collaboration with the community.

  • IKS will set up a digital TV station. While these will be a vital link between IKS and the Community at large, these will also be a lab for training students in a skill set and be linked in a real way to the media industry. These stations would give voice to the disempowered populations and allow dialogue between different stakeholders including the Government.

  • IKS will create new-media labs, such as for animation graphics, VFX and photography as viable directions in vocational education.

  • IKS will set up an Apps lab to open up new areas of innovation and research in vocational training and community development.

  • IKS will set up Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality labs to open up new areas of innovation and research in tribal knowledges.

  • IKS will develop projects with regard to linking traditional knowledges and livelihoods to markets using ICT technologies.

  • IKS will develop assistive technologies for differently abled tribal population without being detrimental to the sensibilities of the community.

  • IKS will look at the possibility of preservation of documentary heritage (tangible and intangible traditions, knowledge, culture, etc.) of indigenous communities and explore the possibility of in-situ preservation.

  • IKS will undertake skills up-gradation and local value addition in traditional skills, to link sustainably indigenous arts, crafts and other knowledge and traditional livelihoods to the market economy.

  • IKS will undertake research on

    • Digital inclusion/exclusion to determine its impact on indigenous societies.

    • Cross-community fertilization of knowledge systems.

  • IKS will set up a high-end multimedia language lab to

  • Capture and preserve the language currently spoken by the elders and others in each Tribe.

  • Encourage and support the existing speakers to continue speaking and sharing their language, cultural traditions, values, beliefs and identity.

  • Preparation of instructional/ learning materials in Tribal languages for use in Tribal schools and vocational training institutes

  • Enhance communication and life skills for improving opportunities for employment, job retention and better cultural integration.

  • IKs will organise conferences, symposia, workshops

  • IKS will initiate Indigenous Artist/Thinker-in-Residence exchanges and programs

  • IKS will undertake student exchange programs, including cross cultural immersion and research programs in and amongst indigenous communities

While IKS would be engaging in the business of interfacing between technology, education and culture, we are aware that this is not possible without the complete back up of a research team. In the true spirit of liberal education, IKS will work toward creating a research hub that will try to bring science, technology, social science and the humanities closer.

The challenge of creating and implementing a new vision should not be underestimated, but the moment has come to try. For three decades, colleges and universities in India have struggled to accommodate open access with standards of excellence, new knowledge within old curricular structures, and new cultural perspectives with traditional ones. It is time we learned how we can and should inform a new vision of liberal education that, along with Indian enterprise and technology, will shape a global free society. The Institute of Knowledge Societies endeavors to strive in these directions.

The Tribal communities have a rich tradition of arts, folks and cultural practices; most of them have only oral traditions, still very rich in its varieties and composition that have been passed through generations. However, many of these cultural practices and traditions have come to be marginalized due to neglect and lack of patronage. The unprecedented social and cultural transition among Tribal communities due to ‘modernisation’ is also resulting in rapid extinction of most of these traditions and cultural practices. Some of them are on the verge of extinction.

It is critical to preserve the cultural traditions of the Tribal communities including their languages. One key aspect of tribal communities is the diversity in languages they speak. For example 62 Tribal communities in Odisha speak nearly 72 languages. Most of them have only oral traditions; only few of them have scripts. It is important to preserve the languages they speak considering the importance of languages in transmission of knowledge from one generation to another. The recent enactment on Right to Education (RTE) in India that seeks to promote education in mother tongue is one step forward in this direction. One way to do this is creating an environment where the community can practice them in their day to day life. It is required to support education, both formal and informal, in tribal areas of the state involving as many children and their parents. Many adults have forgotten their language or feel uncomfortable with it. In order to be first teacher, the parents have to be given some language training. In order to achieve this, it is required to:

  • Capture and preserve the language currently spoken by the elders and others in each Tribe,

  • Encourage and support the existing speakers to continue speaking and sharing their language, cultural traditions, values, beliefs and identity,

  • Preparation of instructional/ learning materials in Tribal languages for use in Tribal schools and vocational training institutes,

  • Empower the parents of the children aged under five years to become the teachers of their children- i.e. ‘parents as first teachers’,

  • In order for parents to be secure financially to do this, it is important to set up employment and skills training (including vocational training) for them,

  • Co-ordinate and extend all these activities at state and national levels,

  • These activities need to be done at the homes and local community levels.

The social relations between Tribal communities and the mainstream are characterized by subjugation and marginalization. There is little appreciation of the rich cultural tradition, values and beliefs of Tribal communities. In this context, it is also important to document the cultural practices and traditions and transit the same to a wider audience for linking the Tribal community with the mainstream. Most of the cultural practices have oral tradition only that make them difficult to document and transit through generations. It is in this context the activities of the Institute of Knowledge Societies become relevant.

The strategy is to involve as many Tribal Young people as possible in the activities of the school. The Tribal young people will attend the School for training and empowerment, including how to make a video, but the Museum will be a living, current resource for them and their communities. This is in stark contrast to the concept of ‘existing museums’ which are often sterile places for viewing the ‘dead’, historical cultures of the past. The rationale of the training programme is to create a team of professionally trained Tribal young people who in turn would produce videos and other documents related to Tribal life and culture. The videos are created and viewed on a continual basis by all participants- with selected samples being archived and show cased in the Tribal Museum from time to time.

Academic Programs Offered

IKS offers undergraduate and graduate programs in communication and is delivering the UNESCO curriculum on communication education for developing countries. Additionally, IKS offers post graduate program in Development Management for providing professional managers in rural institutions.

IKS is also offering a short term course in Saura language which is taught by the elders of the Saura community.

IKS presently offers dedicated programs for student exchanges in International Development from Australia, North America and Europe.

Synergy with Other Schools/Entrepreneurial outreaches of the University

The core objective of the Centurion University is to “shape lives and empower communities”, creating wealth and livelihood opportunities in rural communities in southern Odisha and northern coastal Andhra Pradesh. IKS plays a key role in forwarding above objective working in synergy with other Schools and Entrepreneurial outreaches of the University. This work is important for Odisha, traditionally a place of illiteracy and abject poverty, in which the desperate living conditions have contributed to the rise of extremist activity (Naxalism).

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