On Jan. 12, several creatives gathered in Mumbai, India, to share valuable insights on liberal arts and the impact of Indian cinema on global entertainment.
The event, Liberal Arts + Film and Storytelling: A Wesleyan University Forum, brought together Wesleyan faculty, distinguished alumni, aspiring students and their parents, and the wider Wesleyan community across the globe.
Speakers included Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78; Scott Higgins, Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies and director of Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image; and acclaimed global film- and entertainment-industry personalities Matthew Weiner ’87, P ’18, and Navdeep Singh. Weiner is known as the creator of the hit television series Mad Men and The Romanoffs, and Singh is an Indian director best known for his Bollywood film NH10.
“I have always admired Wesleyan University and its focus on liberal arts education,” said event host Manisha Ajay Vaghani P’18. “They provide unique cross-cultural learning experiences and offer graduates the opportunity to explore different professional paths around the world. By hosting this event, we hope to give audiences a sense of Wesleyan’s distinct culture and its strong interdisciplinary educational approach, and thus spread the word to more suitable students.”
Roth and Higgins discussed the experience of studying film in a liberal arts context, and how Wesleyan’s distinctive education prepares students to be leaders in the film and entertainment industry.
Roth and Weiner held a conversation about Weiner’s time at Wesleyan, including how his major in the College of Letters helped to shape his career in the entertainment industry. Weiner later experienced Wesleyan in a different capacity—as the parent of a Class of 2018 graduate—and shared how this deepened his understanding of Wesleyan’s impact on students.
Higgins, Weiner, and Singh held an in-depth discussion on the creative process, the future of Indian cinema and how it will influence the global entertainment market, the impact of the US entertainment industry in India, and other topics.
Through the Liberal Arts + Film and Storytelling session, the speakers also showcased Wesleyan’s top-ranked film program (noted by prestigious publications including Variety and Hollywood Reporter), which prepares graduates to excel on both sides of the lens through a rigorous liberal arts curriculum. Among its alumni, the University boasts many leading practitioners in the film industry, including Weiner, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 (Hamilton), Michael Bay ’86 (Transformers), Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97 (How I Met Your Mother), and many others.
“It’s a pleasure to be in Mumbai and have the opportunity to discuss how the pragmatic liberal education of Wesleyan prepares students to thrive in a rapidly changing world long after they graduate,” Roth said. “Our alumni make an outsized impact all around the world, something perhaps most evident in the film and entertainment industry, where numerous top directors, writers, producers, and actors credit their Wesleyan education with empowering them to develop a personal vision, learn to take risks and problem-solve, and collaborate effectively with others from diverse backgrounds.”
Over the past decade, an increasing number of students from India are choosing to pursue higher education in the United States. Wesleyan has seen applications from India increase by 70% over the past five years. Wesleyan has deep, longstanding ties with India dating back to the 1960s. These include an annual Navaratri Festival held at Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts for more than 40 years, an annual student-organized Holi Festival, South Indian music course offerings, a South Asian Studies concentration, and an active South Asian Student Association.
The event took place at the Trident Hotel on Nariman Point in Mumbai.
Additional photos of the forum are below: