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MA in New Humanities and Design

Pathway : Environment and Society

We won't have a society if we destroy the environment.” - Margaret Mead

The MA program in Environment and Society aims to critically examine the interrelationships between humans and their environment. We seek to understand how people and communities view and transform the world around them, and are in turn shaped materially and culturally by their environments. This program encompasses research areas that include
i) Development and Progress,
ii) Rights, Equity and Justice, and
iii) Ecology and Resilience.
We use transdisciplinary methods and perspectives drawn from the natural and social sciences to approach and navigate complex contemporary nature-society issues. Ultimately, we aim towards imagining, conceiving and designing for healthy societies and ecosystems that are well-integrated, adaptable, and sustainable.

Course Structure

  • Disciplinary Studies
  • Trans-disciplinary Projects
  • Theory and Understanding Units
  • Practice
  • Self-Directed Inquiry/Research
  • Knowledge Enhancement (Ability or Skills)

Learning Approach

Program learning components include:

  • A philosophical approach that allows students to observe, reflect, absorb and share their explorations of the many values and concepts that permeate our society today, and to build on the relationships between self, society, and action.
  • A trans-disciplinary approach to master the theoretical and conceptual knowledge of the history of institutional arrangements and management of environment.
  • Field based immersion to complement the theoretical approaches and provide students with an in-depth understanding of the diverse, dynamic, and complex realities on the ground.
  • Studio-based learning and making to explore theories, policies, and problems through shared reflections and innovative problem-solving in an open, mutually-respectful, art-and-design learning space.
  • Opportunity to cross-register for electives in other related masters programs, in order to enhance learning experiences and widen professional applicability.

Key Values in the curriculum

We believe the following values form a good basis for an approach that will equip a new generation of practitioners with the capacity to rethink the contentious issues surrounding environment and society, in order to design interventions that will address the issues:

  • Reflexivity -: As interventionists who seek to grapple with environment and society issues, we believe it is of utmost importance to cultivate a disposition of reflexivity, i.e., understanding that we too are part of the "problem" and we cannot take ourselves out of the equation.
  • Endurance: Patience and endurance are key to resolving a problem through gradually improving understandings. Understanding complex social issues requires time and persistence.
  • Adaptability: To be creative and design interventions that are equitable and appropriate, we should be able to sensitively question received ideas, navigate the messiness of the world outside and within ourselves, and be prepared to change our views and positions.
  • Sustainability: To develop practices, methods, approaches, and platforms that are robust and integrate the values of equity, respect, and justice. To include humans, environment, flora, and fauna.

Capability Sets

On successful completion of the course, graduates will have the following capabilities:

To critically observe and reflect
To explore, build, and practice creative research methods
To understand local context, practices and methods
To challenge received notions and ideas
To make connections between landscape, people and work
To contextualise politics amongst different stakeholders
To think and design for uncertainty


Graduates with the above capability sets may have opportunities that include the following:

  • Employment in research and development organizations, policy-related think-tanks, non-profits, corporate social responsibility (CSR), social enterprises, and in art, craft and design firms and organizations.
  • Practitioners in innovative and participatory platforms that identify community practices and methods for adoption into social enterprises that empower marginalized communities and enable financial security within a sustainable environment.
  • Independent design practitioners, and/or consultants that advise on environment and development issues.
  • Critical thinkers and practitioners in academia and policy making.


For more information about this program, kindly email Mohan Seetharam at

Disciplinary Intersections

The M.A. in Environment and Society will draw from various disciplines and thereby provide a vibrant platform for students to engage with the above issues within a design environment:

Critical Geography
Political Science
Development Studies
Cultural Studies
Ecology and Environment
Policy Studies & Environmental Law
Urban Studies & Design
Industrial Arts & Design
Research – Art & Design

Research and Collaboration

Students enrolled in the program will have the opportunity to interact with the following labs in the form of an internship, workshop, or self-initiated immersion.


View Eligibility for Admission, Fee Schedule, Application Form & Other information for this Program >>