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Pedagogy of Care, Creativity and Community

With Sai Bhatawadekar, University of Hawai‘i

My teaching philosophy and practice is creative, cross-disciplinary and genuinely caring for individuals and community. I teach Hindi language, Indian dances, Bollywood film analysis and history, and my research in cross-cultural philosophy permeates my pedagogy. In my classes my students and I engage with South Asian culture(s) critically, creatively, and joyously, while at the same time understanding ourselves, our complex cultures and times, and our global journeys and responsibilities. It’s my privilege that I get to teach the two most existentially fundamental modes of our being—language and movement. Every class and every topic is an opportunity to connect and learn from one another, explore and express who we are and what moves us, what makes us laugh out loud and cry and jump with joy, what ignites our curiosity, self-discovery, creativity, aesthetic appreciation and cross-cultural adventures, how we can cultivate an empowered sense of self and yet transformative flexibility, how we can be empathetic and ethical in our interactions, and how we can build safe spaces and supportive communities. Rather than a top-down approach, I recognize that every class is different; each student has irreplaceable value as an individual and a human being, and each one brings unique life experiences, interests and expertise to share. Every semester, we create topics and projects that are deeply meaningful to us. Creative Project-, Performance- and Person-Based Pedagogy has now become my core practice that has made us better learners, compassionate colleagues and happier people. These pedagogical practices have gone a long way in building self-awareness, empathy, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary connections and communities. It has facilitated organically growing and flowing channels between academia and community, between language and the arts, between art and critical thinking, between cultures, and simply between people, which is truly what is at the heart of my work in Public Humanities.

Sai Bhatawadekar is an award-winning professor and teacher of South Asian languages and culture; she is also a choreographer, theater director, poet and philosopher. Her expertise and publications include Hindi film history and analysis, Indian popular culture, dance and music, film adaptations of literature, Marathi theatre, German-Indian theatre and film connections, Hindi-Urdu and German language pedagogy, East-West cross-cultural studies, and German philosophical interpretations of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.

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This is the inaugural event in the Decolonizing Pedagogies and Pedagogies of Care in the South Asian Studies classroom series, organized by Shobna Nijhawan (Languages Literatures and Linguistics) and presented with support from the York Centre for Asian Research.


Feb 08 2024


5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


York Centre for Asian Research
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