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Aanchal Chopra believes that interdisciplinarity is the key to success in the modern world.
She has been able to apply this philosophy to the study of the world’s most dynamic region through a Bachelor of Philosophy – Asia and the Pacific (Honours) at ANU. The PhB is a research-focused undergraduate degree that enables disciplinary expertise to be enriched by a deep understanding of Asia and the Pacific.
‘What attracted me most about ANU was the Asian studies expertise. ANU is probably one of the best places in Australia—if not one of the best places in the world—to study Asia,’ she says.
PhB students receive mentoring from leading academics to develop their skills in independent research and critical thinking.
‘The academics here are really fantastic. They have a huge set of knowledge which I really value in terms of interdisciplinarity and you don’t get that in very many other places,’ Aanchal reveals.
She completed a research project on the ‘Incredible India’ tourism campaign with Dr Shameem Black, who has ‘really unique and valuable insights into the study of media and culture in India.’
‘Shameem let me do something creative, which is not often the case. It was a really interesting and thought-provoking project,’ she says.
Aanchal has also done projects on Facebook in India and the Philippines, the pharmaceutical industry in India, and on Asian airlines.
‘I’ve done a lot in technology, in media, and advertising, and my regional focus has been India.’
Aanchal is now working on her honours project on tourism in India. She found the perfect fit in her honours supervisor, Dr Jane Ferguson, who is a leading expert on travel, movement and tourism in Asia.
‘Tourism is just so fascinating and can take you so many places. It’s a growing field, especially in Asia because a lot of countries rely on it for their prosperity. So I intend to study a little more and then pursue whatever comes out of that. I’m taking it one step at a time,’ Aanchal says.
In 2017 she spent a month at Yale University as part of the IARU Global Summer Program, which enables ANU students to undertake intensive courses at an IARU partner university.
‘I did a course in the sustainable preservation of cultural heritage which was just incredible, it was so interdisciplinary and explored everything from science, to history, to art history, and anything in the middle,’ Aanchal recalls.
She has also sought out opportunities to apply her skills and experience in new ways, and is currently doing an internship at IBM. ‘I sold my skills by telling them I could think, because I’d done the PhB and I’d learnt how to do research. And that’s IBM’s motto as well.’
Aanchal believes that Asian studies gives people the skills to think critically and creatively.
‘I’d really encourage people to learn how to think rather than what to think. That’s what’s most inspiring about companies like IBM or Google, they’re really focusing on how people think, recruiting people from the humanities and other backgrounds, not just from IT. It's always valuable to explore a range of disciplines, beyond what you might be comfortable or used to doing.’