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St. John's College's flagship initiative, SEAL embodies our commitment to creating and sustaining an academically rigorous and globally competitive environment within our rural campus. SEAL operates as a 'smart' ecosystem, strategically designed to foster high-quality learning experiences, spark curiosity among students, and cultivate robust research skills over time. With a focus on excellence, SEAL's primary objectives include facilitating interactions between students and faculty with esteemed scholars at national and international levels, recruiting faculty members with diverse academic and research backgrounds from prestigious institutions worldwide, providing comprehensive training to students for excelling in national and international competitive examinations and securing admission in foreign universities, establishing cutting-edge research facilities in every science department equipped with sophisticated instrumentation, and encouraging faculty members to pursue global assignments, collaborate with renowned scholars, and contribute to international academic publications. SEAL exemplifies St. John's College's commitment to setting industry-leading standards in academia and nurturing a culture of academic excellence and innovation.

Objectives of the Practice:
SEAL, initiated during the 2018-19 academic year, is a flagship initiative of St. John’s college management to establish and maintain an academically rigorous, globally competent research and teaching environment in a rural college setting.
The main objectives of SEAL are as follows:

  • To provide students and teachers opportunities to interact with nationally and internationally renowned scholars.
  • To appoint faculty who have academic and research exposure from national and global institutions.
  • To impart training to students for clearing all-India competitive examinations and getting admission into foreign universities with full or partial funding.
  • To establish advanced research laboratories in every science department with sophisticated instrumentation facility.
  • To encourage faculty to take up global assignments, enter into collaborations with globally renowned scholars and publish in international journals and books.

The Context:
The SEAL initiative represents a bold endeavour to transform a rural college into a hub of academic excellence and global engagement. Like any other rural college, St. John’s College, Anchal, faces resource limitations, including financial constraints and infrastructure deficiencies. Establishing advanced research laboratories and hiring globally experienced faculty requires substantial investment. Similarly, preparing students for all-India competitive examinations and facilitating their admission into foreign universities demands comprehensive training programs and individualized support. Addressing the diverse needs and backgrounds of students while ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities is crucial but challenging. Encouraging faculty to pursue global assignments, collaborate with renowned scholars, and publish in international journals requires fostering a culture of internationalization within the institution. Implementing SEAL entails a fundamental shift in the institutional culture and practices. Embracing academic rigor, global competence, and research excellence may require overcoming resistance to change and addressing the concerns of faculty and students.

The Practice:

SEAL is envisioned as a 'smart' ecosystem for nurturing quality learning in classrooms, inspiring curiosity among students, and inculcating robust research skills in a phased manner. Since 2012, during the incubation phase of SEAL, the college management took special interest in hiring faculty with global and national exposure. In 2013, Dr. Thomas Mathew, who completed his PhD at the reputed National Chemical Laboratory (NCL-Pune), was appointed in the Department of Chemistry. He had previously served as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tokyo and held two international patents. In 2015, Dr. Jinu M John, a PhD holder from Leibnitz University of Hannover, was appointed in the Chemistry department. During this period, a UK-trained biologist, Dr. Josin Tharian, was appointed in the Zoology department. In 2017, Dr. Sajan Thomas, who obtained his PhD from the University of Bergen, Norway, and was a visiting scholar at NIAS, Copenhagen, was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Political Science. The following faculty appointments made after the establishment of SEAL were researchers trained at nationally and internationally renowned institutions: Mr.Thomas Mohan (University of Maastricht), Dr. Praveen G (University of Hyderabad and IISER), Ms. Gouri Nair S (University of Delhi), Dr. Anoosh Varghese (TBGRI). In the wake of the implementation of NEP and four-year honours degree programmes, the management appointed Dr. Nisha Thomas as the college principal. She obtained her M.Sc. (Hons.) degree from Punjab University, Chandigarh.
Between 2018 and 2023, under the aegis of SEAL, various departments of the college have initiated online and offline seminars/conferences, inviting globally renowned academics and scholars. Here is the list of globally renowned academics who visited St. John’s College or attended online seminars/lectures organized by the college during the last five years.

  • Prof. Eric J. Wolanski, Adjunct Professor, James Cook University, Australia.
  • Dr. Thorvald Sirnes, Professor, University of Bergen, Norway
  • Dr. Kristin Plys, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Dag Erik Berg, Molde University College, Norway
  • Dr. Ramachandra Guha, Visiting Professor, Yale University, USA
  • Dr. Jayaseelan Raj, senior lecturer, Department of International Development, King's College, London
  • Dr. Raj Sony Jalaraj, Department of Communication, MacEwan University, Edmonton, Canada
  • Dr. Samson Bezabeh, Fellow, African Studies Center-Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Sreeprasanth Pulinthanathu, Department of Materials Engineering at KU Leuven, Belgium,
  • Dr. Visakh V. S Pillai, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands.
  •  Manu P Toms, the Editor of Venture Capital and Internet Economy at ET Prime, The Times of India.
  • Shalini Rudra, Researcher, Department of History, University of Warwick, UK
  • Prof. Michael W. Sonneitner, Portland Community College, USA


In the Indian context, the St. John's Ecosystem of Advanced Learning (SEAL) represents a pioneering initiative that addresses several unique challenges prevalent in the country's educational landscape, particularly within rural areas. One of SEAL's standout features is its emphasis on global exposure and collaboration. Such a global perspective is particularly unique in the case of an Indian rural context, where exposure to diverse viewpoints and international networks may be limited.

Evidence of Success:

Accomplishments -Teachers

  • Dr. Thomas Mathew (Chemistry) received the prestigious HRSMC international fellowship (2022) to conduct research at the University of Amsterdam.
  • Dr. Sajan Thomas (Political Science) collaborated with Dr. Titto Idicula (2018-19) of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology to write op-ed articles in The Hindu- Business-Line.
  • Dr. Sajan Thomas has been invited by Dr. Thorvarld Sirnes (2021), a Professor at the University of Bergen (who visited St. John’s College in 2018), to be an international partner in a proposal for the research project on the Covid-19 Situation in Kerala and Norway.
  • Dr. Ronie Thomas, Assistant Professor of Political Science, has presented a paper at the Eighth Annual International Conference PSSIR-2018 at Singapore.
  • Dr. Dilip D. S. (Mathematics) St. John' College, Anchal has established an academic linkage with Prof. Elsayed M. Elsayed of King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia toward collaborative research leading to joint publications.
  • Dr. Lalitha Joseph (English) published her poem in Masques: Poetry of Identities- An anthology Masques (2020) features over sixty poets from around the world.
  • Ms. Rashmi S. Pillai, Assistant Professor of English, received Mahatma Jyotiba Phule National Fellowship Award (2021) instituted by the Bharatiya Dalit Sahithya Akademi, New Delhi.

Another evidence of success was that between 2018 and 2023, many faculty members published articles in peer-reviewed international journals.


  • Mr. Jishnu P K attained Ph.D. admission in Chemistry with fellowship at Coventry University, UK (2022) and Ms. Linsu Sara Abraham secured admission for Ph.D. in chemistry with fellowship at Stony Brook University, US (2023).
  • Ms. Shincy L Stuvart, a 2020-23 batch student in the Department of Mathematics got admission in IIT Palakkad after securing adequate score in JAM 2023 exams.
  • Ms. Avani D from I BA Political Science (2022) emerged as one of the finalists in the prestigious Federal Bank-Speak for India debate series.
  • Mr. Vishnu (M.Sc 2017-19) joined for an internship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru.

Additionally, several undergraduate students have pursued higher studies at nationally renowned institutions such as IISER, Central Universities, and State universities.

Problems Encountered and Resources Required:

The SEAL initiative at St. John’s College aims to elevate a rural educational setting to globalacademic prominence. SEAL's focus on preparing students for global competitiveness is noteworthy in the Indian context. However, it faces financial hurdles in building advanced labs and hiring world-class faculty. Despite such difficulties, the college management took a special initiative to hire researchers with global and international exposure among its faculty. There’s also a need for a cultural transformation to embrace international standards of research and teaching. Ensuring fair access to these enhanced educational resources for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, presents another challenge. To implement SEAL successfully, the college requires significant funding for infrastructure, strategic faculty development programs to attract and support internationally experienced scholars, and comprehensive student support systems to prepare them for global opportunities. These resources will enable the college to transition into an institution characterized by rigorous academics and global engagement, thus fulfilling the SEAL’s ambitious objectives.


Introducing the St. John's Ecosystem of Advanced Learning (SEAL) to another Indian college offers an ambitious, but viable path to reshape rural education paradigms. SEAL's core principles of academic rigor, global exposure, and research excellence provide a blueprint for overcoming the unique challenges faced by rural educational institutions in India. By adopting SEAL, rural colleges can cultivate an environment conducive to nurturing innovation, critical thinking, and global exposure among both students and faculty. The proven success of SEAL at St. John's College, Anchal, highlights its potential to uplift institutions to international acclaim, irrespective of their geographic constraints or resource limitations. However, implementing SEAL necessitates strategic planning, including significant financial investment, faculty development initiatives, and a cultural shift towards embracing global standards. Through robust support structures and equitable access to resources, rural colleges can empower students from diverse backgrounds to excel globally and make meaningful contributions to society. Embracing a SEAL-inspired model signifies a commitment to excellence, innovation, and inclusive education, heralding a promising future for Indian higher education.