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    Foundation Year

    Your first year at Atria University is focused on building an understanding of self – your goals, passions, and skills. We help build a strong knowledge foundation, so you can get the most out of your learning across majors. Our intent is to prepare you for life, make you a leader and problem-solver so you can impact change in the world.

    Building a Knowledge Foundation for Life

    The foundation year helps you discover yourself. You get to experience a range of subjects, identify your interests, and understand your strengths. All students study the same concepts/courses which empower them with the foundational knowledge to build on for the years ahead. 

     

    Your first year is focused on: 

    • Building an understanding of self – your goals, passions, and skills
    • Developing the skills to collaborate in learning and doing
    • Taking action within a complex real world
    • Strengthening the foundation of knowledge for learning more in all majors

    Above all, our intention is to see that whatever you choose to do or learn after this, you will be more effective at it. You will also be able to make informed and well-thought-out decisions for yourself, and the rest of the world.

    Your Learning Roadmap

    In the foundation year, month 1 to 12, all students study the same concepts. Year 1 is an interdisciplinary year designed to be relevant to all students regardless of their future specializations. 

    Throughout the year, you will be introduced to multiple disciplines and develop problem-solving skills. You will learn through Courses, Projects, and Workshops.

    Courses

    Deep dive into courses, 1-3 weeks at a time. Explore foundational courses like Inquiry, Mathematics, Ethics, Algorithms and Programming, Terminal Physics, Appreciation of Differences, and others. At any given time, you will be engaged in only one course. Courses are designed to kindle curiosity, create foundations for work on real-world projects, and empower you to learn how to learn. Active learning pedagogies will be used.

    Year 1 Courses:

    • Ethics
    • Mathematics
    • Foundation in Technology
    • Application of Science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology)
    • Appreciation of Difference

    Workshops / Guest Lectures / Field Visits

    Workshops, guest lectures, or field visits will happen throughout the year. Experience workshops on Problem-Solving and Design Thinking, Having a sense of place, Communication skills, Critical Thinking, Self-Awareness, and Artistry in Year 1. These enable you to understand self, develop an interdisciplinary mindset, to think and act critically. 

    Year 1 Workshops

    1. Problem-solving and Design thinking
    2. Critical Thinking
    3. Communication Skills
    4. Self-Awareness and Teamwork
    5. Artistry
    6. Sense-Making

    Projects

    Taking a real-world problem statement, you will work with your classmates to create a meaningful impact in one of the 5 majors. Projects such as these will be designed to mimic the professional working environment in the respective field. Under the guidance of able mentors, you will normally have elements happening off-campus. 

    Each project is 3 weeks long. At the end of this, you will have a clearer picture of what kind of opportunities each major has to offer and where your strengths and interests lie.

    First Year Learning Goals

    A range of learning goals will be explored through the course of the first year. Some are building blocks for all engagements while others will be the main focus of a particular course/workshop/project.

    Relationality

    Understanding Context

    Personal

    Ethics

    Necessarily a situational judgment. Unlike the idea of morals, ethics is not a series of blind rules but rather a clear way of thinking, combined with an empathetic and fearless point of view.

     

    Self Awareness

    Good action is driven by a clear understanding of how you feel, who you are, and how much space you are taking. Learning from Emotional Intelligence, good dialogue practices, awareness of health and the body, and the ability to acknowledge your subjectivity and bias, this learning goal enables you to work with others and be fully conscious of what drives you.

    Artistry

    The ability to interact with the world and your mind through art. The medium is up to you, the student. It is the creative and appreciative lens that we are looking to expand.

    Interpersonal

    Team Work

    This will be an intrinsic quality to every workshop, course, or project that you undertake. At Atria University, collaboration is valued over competition. We aren’t just looking to make you work in groups. We will also enable you to bring your individuality to a group, work out differences well, and learn to be efficient in this process.

     

    Leadership

    A good leader is responsible to see things through, lacks ego, enables leadership in her/his team, and can influence collective impact towards team goals. Leadership is equally about stepping back as much as it is about taking the lead.

     

    Listening/Observation

    We seek to train problem solvers. In the course of solving a problem, listening and observation come in multiple phases – to identify the problem, to empathize with the people connected to the problem, to identify and build upon the solutions that are already present in the people.

     

    Communication

    Communication goes beyond the written word. It is about speech, visual arts, presentation skills, body language, responsive behavior, pitching an idea, organizing your thoughts, and knowing your goal. It is also about learning to read between the lines, non-violent communication, and understanding you are allowed and welcome to speak up.

     

    Mind, Body, and Behavior

    How do we behave? What do we think about each other and our behavior? We live in more than the rational world. The several ongoing rational and irrational decisions we make and enact are at the center of being a person in a society. We will delve into cognitive and social psychology.

    Societal

    A sense of place and context

    What is happening around you right now? Paying attention to the silos and silences that separate us all. Being aware of the history and geography that shaped the present we live in. Knowing how to take action within the ecosystems that you live in.

     

    Appreciation of Differences

    Ethics is built on the question of personal action/decision making as situated in society/community, enabling action with empathy. For us, ethics is situated in historical and systemic thinking, and thus an appreciation of differences. We will work through field visits and engagements with communities in dimensions of ethics, empathy, historical, and systems thinking as both theory and practice.

     

    Sustainability

    To ensure that the systems we live within are vibrant for the next many generations, we need to understand the interdependence between humans and nature. We will explore our relationships with a more-than-human world through naturalist studies, ecopsychology, environmental justice, climate change, and sustainable living.

    Processes

    Knowledge & Action

    Knowledge and action

    Inquiry-based learning

    The dominant education paradigm presents facts and then asks questions to see if you have understood the facts. Inquiry-based learning empowers you to learn from asking questions and exploring these questions through strengthening our own process of observation, thinking, reasoning, and judgment.

     

    Design Thinking

    In the steps between an idea and grand success lies design thinking. Working with design thinking challenges you to remove the assumptions that we know what is needed and seek to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.

     

    Systems Thinking

    Gaining an understanding of how systems work – and how we play a role in them – lets us function more effectively and proactively within them. The more you understand systemic behavior, the more you can anticipate that behavior and work with systems (rather than being controlled by them) to shape the quality of your life.

     

    Demystifying Expertise

    We often switch off our critical thinking when we hear an ‘expert’ speak on a topic. A key aspect of education is learning how academic expertise is arrived at, how to trust, and critically engage with information and narratives as we seek and produce them.

    Breadth & Rigour

    With a skillset or field

    Basics of the fields

    Content covered in the first year is intended to develop your understanding and intuition of the basics of the fields. These basics are necessary for studying majors. The first-year STEM courses are a set of fascinating explorations about what makes the world work. Most importantly, the courses will be explored through projects embedded in the real world and not just from a space of theory.

    We also recognize that in a class of students from varying backgrounds, several topics will be more familiar to some than others. Our classroom pedagogies are set up so that you will have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge on a topic beyond what the rest of the class might be learning. You will also find support if the subject matter is new to you and you require bridging material.

     

    Foundation in Math

    Developing an intuition for and understanding the languages of geometry, polynomials, and calculus, working a great deal through visualization and exploration.

     

    Foundation in Science

    Mechanics, energy, electromagnetism, atomic theory, redox reactions, cellular biology, evolution, and the biology of human behavior.

     

    Algorithms and Programming

    The course provides you hands-on experience in using computation to solve simple problems. Reinforce concepts from Mathematics and Physics through interactive visualizations. It helps you appreciate the limits and risks of technology.

     

    Kinesthetic Doing

    Our hands and bodies are amazing complex tools, capable of both great force and of delicate movements. However, without learning skills involving them, and the practice of doing them, we don’t explore our full potential. This would vary from things like basics of typing, stitching to how to safely handle a fire, or work in a mechanical workshop.

     

    Have a sense of what is involved in the majors

    Through the course of the first year, you will experience five immersive, 3 week projects, one for each major. This will enable you to choose your learning paths and then your specializations in the second year.

    • Interactive Technologies
    • Mobility
    • Energy Sciences
    • Life Sciences
    • Digital Transformation

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