Best Practice

Practice1. Institution – Society Reciprocity

Objectives of the Practice

  • ensuring active and creative societal involvement in the development of students through collaborating with communities related to it
  • to facilitate the creative interventions of alumni and local public in mentoring students
  • to encourage initiatives of students beyond classrooms, so that they could learn by doing things together
  • to make the most out of the physical infrastructure available for the benefit of local community and academic community
  • to incorporate the artistic skills, knowledge and expertise of the local people in the architectural and design innovations of college
  • to deepen the local knowledge potential through international institutional collaborations
  • to mobilise additional resources through cooperative moves, and focus specifically on the neglected aspects of the culture of northern Malabar
  • to bring international scholars and local community together around research

The Context

One of the benchmarks of Brennen College’s thrust on self-development and its productive
relationship with larger society is its reciprocity in academic, managerial and material aspects
which enables students to imbibe social commitment as an integral component of their
academic growth. Students are equipped to contribute to the enhancement of knowledge
production in intimate collaboration with local public, formal students, parents and formal
teachers. Our resolve is to create the spirit of cooperation and co-production in students,
resulting in the overall development of the region.

Though this is a government college, the community had always owned it and had
contributed towards mentoring of students, management of activities and mobilisation of
resources, along with collaboration in joint projects. This is a relationship that goes much
beyond the usual extension activities of similar institutions. Contributions in terms of
cognitive and material resources are mutual. The existence of such an emergent space
inculcates values of collaboration in knowledge production, development of infrastructure,
and design of the whole institutional ecosystem.

The Practice

1. BICCS, Brennen Inter University Centre for Convergent Studies, was established as a
centre of excellence in the college where the available resources in Arts, Humanities
and Social Science disciplines are integrated productively. It aims at providing long
term international expertise to researchers from peripheries.

2. Brought international scholars and local community together around research

3. In order to solve the severe draught situation of the locality, the college offered 5
cents of land for the construction of a water tank which now is supplying water to the
local people

4. The college is offering community services including blood donation, charity
measures and social services in an unparalleled scale. Students of the college save
their ‘birthday funds’ for supporting needy patients at Malabar cancer centre.

5. The College has joined hands with the Grama Panchayat and Sports Authority of
India and provided land for the synthetic athletic track, which can be utilized by both
the academic and the local communities.

6. ‘Potheri Kunjhambu Study Centre’ is instituted by the Department of Malayalam with
the declared objective of doing research with public participation into the neglected
aspects of literary traditions of North Malabar. This is another instance where college
succeeded in elevating the extension work to new heights.

7. As part of the Quasquicentennial Anniversary Celebrations in 2015 – 16, the College,
in collaboration with the Alumni, the Retired Teachers’ Forum, and the public,
organised programmes Brennen Expo, Brennen Thalassery Book Fair and Literary
Festival, and ‘Natakotsav’ which were instrumental in rejuvenating the intellectual
life of the region.

8. The inauguration of the Brennen Thalassery Book Fair and Literary Festival was
done by cutting a cake made in the shape of a book, reproducing the picture of the
college on it, baked by Bakers’ Association, Kerala. Cake is one of the three
quintessential markers of Tellicherry, the others being Cricket and Circus. This
symbolic gesture has in effect encapsulated the true spirit of reciprocity.

9. As part of the Quasquicentennial Anniversary Celebrations, Chithrakara Koottayma
– a Camp for painters was organised, in which 25 painters from this region
participated. The camp participants gifted their paintings done during the camp to the
college which contribute immensely towards the aesthetic appeal of the buildings
within campus..

10. Volunteers of the National Service Scheme has played leading role in making
Dharmadam village the first ‘Organic Farming Literate

Evidence of Success

  • BICCS, in collaboration with Ruhr University, Germany organised an international
    workshop, World renowned historians, archaeologists, linguists and anthropologists
    like Mahmood Kooria, (University of Laiden) Ophira Gamliel (University of
    Glasgow) and Rajan Gurukkal (Renowned historian) took part in the programme.
  • In 2018 BICCS, in collaboration with D’Annunzio University of Chieti, Italy,
    organised International Lectures by Prof. Vasco La Salvia and Dr. Marco Moderato
    on “Archaeological Research and Methodology”.
  • Subsequent to this The British Library &Endangered Archives Programme entered
    into an agreement with Brennen College to digitise Arabi Malayalam documents from
    the region.
  • University of Montreal joined hands with Government Brennen College for the
    promotion of the research carried out by Mr. Vincent Brilliant-Giroux on the
    Tradition of Theyyam.
  • BICCS is working on Madayi Project . In this project, Ruhr University Germany,
    Glasgow University Ireland, Kerala Council for Historical Research and Kerala State
    Higher Education Council associated. The local people of Madayi also involved. The
    proposed project was an inquiry into a missing link in the premodern history of
    Islamic maritime trade networks between Southwest and Southeast Asia
  • The college community is actively involved in social services. One of the evidence is
    the construction of house for homeless.
  • The blood donation forum of the college is serving needy patients and is a first point
    of contact for the nearby hospitals
  •  The students are regularly supporting the activities of Malabar cancer centre through
    the project ‘We can’.
  •  Students and teaching community actively involved in Kerala flood relief. The
    disaster fund contribution from the staff alone comes to 62 lakhs.

Problems Encountered and Resources Required

  •  Being a Government institution, the college has financial constraint on unleashing the
    full potential of various events and it needs to be solved out by availing public private
    participation or by setting up a special fund for the purpose.
  •  Another problem we encounter is the shortage of time because of the tight academic
    schedule. With the introduction of semester system and with introduction of many
    other extracurricular activities in the campus we are constrained to limit the activities
    within the time frame.
  •  Some of the reciprocity initiatives are hindered by regulatory constraints imposed by
    the governments. This includes mandatory prior sanction and approval of higher
    authorities in collaborations and MoUs, strict precautions taken by auditory staff etc.
    We need special financial and auditory provisions for the smooth operations of our


Reciprocity, in terms of both academic and societal interventions, is the hallmark of the
institution, and is one of the major practices going into its total development. The innovative
practice can be adopted by any higher educational institution. The practice essentially needs a
committed academia, able leadership and responding community. The reciprocity initiative is
helpful in transforming students into ideal citizens and better human beings. The international
collaborations are a venue with larger potential and is a best tool to engage the community in
the academic initiatives. Students will also benefit from the interactions and associations.
More than that, it will be helpful in promoting the nation as a destination of academic
excellence and innovations to the outer world. All these collaborations, though international
in nature were successful initiatives at bridging the gap between knowledge production and
the life-worlds of societies on the periphery

Practice2. ‘Ideas in Progress’: Culture of Dialogues

Objectives of the Practice

  •  to positively encourage learning community of scholars to share their tentative and
    unfinished ideas so that they could benefit from the critical comments from other
  •  to familiarize students with an academic culture anchored on democracy and
  •  to encourage students to apply their learned knowledge in coming to grip with, and
    contesting the contemporary issues.
  •  to provide potential research scholars a platform where they could articulate and
    develop their research problems with the help of quality input from scholars
    belonging to multiple disciplines .
  •  to extend the potential of the institution as a knowledge hub.
  •  to enable the student community to critically engage with the contemporary world
    and to intervene insightfully and in an informed manner in such developments
  •  to promote independent initiatives of students beyond classrooms

The Context

Contemporary social climate calls for an open, democratic academic culture that rejects all
sorts of closures and promotes fearless, open-ended, interdisciplinary engagements that
would result in a rigorous academic environment. The hallmark of a dynamic academic space
is the existence of a vibrant academic community which facilitates joint knowledge
production. The very prerequisite of any knowledge production enterprise is the sustained
presence of such an ambience. Multiple independent initiatives in our institution were
actively promoted in order

Strict disciplinary boundaries need to be transgressed in order to come to grip with the live
contemporary issues of our life world. Without the existence of independent platforms, such
cross disciplinary engagements seldom happens. Today’s knowledge production practices
demands the teachers and scholars to step out of their comfort zones and engage in intimate
conversations with others from differing backgrounds. Since the institution offers courses in
arts, science, social science and humanities the chances are high for productive


The Practice

  • The Department of English operates Decalogue, platform for critical engagements
    with cinema, and screenings of film and documentary texts. Interactive sessions with
    film and documentary makers , technicians, and academicians make the platform
    unique. Since the department offers Film Studies course at both UG and PG levels,
    the platform is extremely significant for it helps students in effective learning of the
    discipline. Interactions with documentary film maker Anees K. Mappila, winner of
    the National Award for The Slave Genesis, a documentary on the Paniya community,
    and director Prathap Joseph, the maker of Randuper Chumbikkumbol, followed by
    screenings of the films, and the invited talk on Film Theory By Dr. A. Hariprasd of
    EFLU are among the major events.
  • In order to initiate critical thinking and enquiry, a new forum Palavicharam was
    initiated by independent forum of teachers. It organised 10 meetings where faculty
    shared and discussed their work in progress. Palavicharam also organised a three day
    programme, “Invitation to Philosophy of Science” (2.11-2016 to 4.11.2016) .
  • Akam Samskarika Vedi, is another a platform of students to initiate critical dialogue. It
    is organised by Malayalam department and conducted several debates including
    panel discussions on 15-07-2016 ( on “Writing Poetry’),29-07-2016 ( on ‘Thinking
    From Kerala’), 17-08-2016 ( on “ Folklore and Society’),27-07-2018 ( on “
    Censorship and Freedom of expression”) and on 8-08-2018 ( on ‘ Writing Stories’).
  • A a weekly presentation programme for PG students namely , Inflow, that offers a
    platform where students could present their ideas, get insights from the community of
    teachers and research scholars, and develop the ideas into research papers is
    functional in the college. , The platform is focussed to encourage research right from
    the PG level.
  • Students Union initates many debates and discussion in the campus, providing space
    for enquiry and innovation. On 2016 July 27, Students’ Union, in collaboration with
    Queer Pride Kerala 2016 organised a debate on ‘Sexuality Politics and Resistances’ in
    which Chinchu Aswathi spoke about her trans sexual identity and Maneesha shared
    her experiences as a trans person.
  • Malayala Gaveshakakkoottam is another Platform of Research Scholars in
    Department of Malayalam. It organised four debates by Dr. K.S.Madhavan ( on 16-
    9- 2017), Dr.Aju K Narayanan( on 28-10-2017), Dr.C.B.Sudhakaran( 31-7-2018) and
    Dr. C.R.Prasad (on 31-7-2018) on themes of contemporary relevance.
  • As part of Quasquicentennial anniversary celebration, in ‘Brennen Thalassery Book
    Fair and Literary Festival’, four panel discussions were organised. These panels
    involved leading thinkers and writers of the state.
  • The Literary Forum of the PG Department of English, Meraki (A Motley Crew of
    Zealous Spirits), takes initiatives to organise multidisciplinary engagements that
    involve writers, academicians, artists and activists. The forum was inaugurated by
    Kalpatta Narayanan, writer, critic and columnist. Since then, the forum conducts
    programmes that open up newer horizons to learning minds.
  • Centrum, a programme of the PG Department of English conducts invited lectures on
    topics of academic and contemporary relevance. Three lectures were conducted since
    its inception – Dr. K.K. Kunhammad on ‘Cultural Studies: Paradigms and Practices’,
    Dr. Arunlal Mokeri on ‘Stream of Consciousness: A Reflection on Postmodern
    Fiction,’ Dr. Y. V. Kannan on ‘Incantations of Resistance: Political Perspectives of
    Pottan Theyyam’

Evidence of Success

Two centres of Excellence were proposed during the last five years following the vibrant
interactions among the faculty, research scholars and other students. The need for doing inter
disciplinary research was positively taken up by the academic community. In humanities
BICCS and in Science. ‘Centre of Excellence for Environment’ became operational with the
strong support of state government and the community. The thrust areas of current research
including Environment, Nano sciences, Atmospheric sciences, conservation, taxonomy and
molecular biology, also provide research facility and expertise to the academic community.
The Centre of Excellence for Environment is all set to establish a fully modernized
laboratory with a well equipped sophisticated instrumentation facility. This will grow into an
initiative which could provide sophisticated research facility to the students and researchers
from various institutions in the area. They intend to do molecular barcoding in the organism
identification with short sequences of conserved genes. The impact of the research in the
centre is hoped to bring breakthrough results that will immensely help the society to
overcome many of the basic issues related to environment and standard of life.

Problems Encountered and Resources Required

For the centres of excellence these platforms are less institutional than independent. They do
not operate in correspondence to the academic calendar of the institution. Since the activities
are organized after the usual academic responsibilities, availability of time is one of the
These platforms have the potential to emerge as knowledge hubs, if they can be properly
facilitated. Interactions with thinking minds are an essential requirement for the growth of a
thought platform, and this requires resources, monetary and otherwise. Non-availability of
funds prevents the community from organizing larger events that would help extend the
scope of the platforms. The state should also provide supportive legal and institutional
structures including innovation friendly audit, special funding provisions etc.

7. Notes

The ‘culture of Dialogue is a ‘sine qua non’ practice of every centres of academic enquiry. As
such it should be established in the institutions of higher learning to supplement classroom
learning. It provides a real space for critical enquiry and open debates. The net result is the
transformation of students into independent thinkers, actors and better human beings. But
before venturing into such an academic practice the academia should ensure critical
institutional space and intellectual learning environments. We also recommend a reframing of
curriculum in tune with spirit of enquiry and discussion to supplement the ‘culture of


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