Tiju Thomas

Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Sardar Patel Road, Chennai 600036, Tamil Nadu, India


ph. no: +91 8056456442
email id: tt332@cornell.edu or tijuthomas@iitm.ac.in

Our Research Group

Applied Nanostructures Engineering and Nanochemistry (ANEN) Research Group

ID6020 Panel Discussion notes (28 Sep., 2017)

Social responsibility

Since I no longer work in the industry, I will steer clear from writing about the much talked about "Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR). Instead I will talk about Academic Social Responsibility (ASR).

It is appropriate (although somewhat naive) to ask the question: do academicians have responsibilities towards the human society? At one level, by very virtue of the fact that academicians are members of the society, they bear some responsibilities, just like any other person. But the real question is: what are the specific responsibilities of the academic community? Let us think about this carefully, and put the role of the academic community in some perspective.

Mean while here is another "pop" question: Is it important to think about the academia?

If you performed a quick survey to determine the fraction of people who are either parenting or teaching, you will find that most adults are either parents or teachers (of one sort of the other). This means that most of us bear (at least) a partial responsibility for the well being of another person. We are all engaging in building the future of mankind. Academia is the section of humanity whose primary mandate is engaging with the generation to come. Hence, just like the role of parents, the role of academics cannot be taken lightly or ignored. A society where teachers are ignored, is a society that is almost entirely set up for an unsustainable existence. Like wise, a society where teachers do not pay attention to their duties, will result in a society deprived of uprightness, cheer and confidence.

We all agree that the future of mankind depends on the creation of a society that is responsible, peaceful, capable of making rational decisions, and sensitive to the weak. Education is meant to create such a society. Teachers have the lofty task of creating such a future. I believe it is important for those of us who are teachers, to look at our jobs in this way. We have a mighty task at hand, and it is a honor to have it this way! Having a culture wherein a strong concept of academic social responsibility exists will result in a society wherein each person will be committed to the higher good of mankind. The academic community has the responsibility of creating a sensible and sensitive society, that is capable of introspection, and action.

Much of what I wrote in this section complements what I have written in "What would an ideal educational institution be like?". I hope and wish for a society wherein each one of us, receives the gift of freedom, and grants it to one another. I also hope for a society wherein ideas and thoughts are valued over material wealth. In such a society, every one would have a say, and every one would be significant. The academic institutions around the world owe it to humanity to create a human family of thinkers, and doers.