Young at thirty years, as universities go, what has lent strength and energy to Jawaharlal Nehru University is the vision that ideas are a field for adventure, experimentation and unceasing quest and diversity of opinions its chief premise. In the early 1970s, when JNU opened its doors to teachers and students, frontier disciplines and new perspectives on old disciplines were brought to the Indian university system. The excellent teacher-student ratio at 1:10, a mode of instruction which encouraged students to explore their own creativity instead of reproducing received knowledge,and an exclusively internal evaluation were a new experiment on the Indian academic landscape; these have stood the test of time. The very Nehruvian objectives embedded in the founding of the University, national integration, social justice, secularism, the democratic way of life,international understanding and scientific approach to the problems of society had built into it constant and energetic endeavour to renew knowledge through self-questioning.
The once rugged terrain of the Aravlli hill range, where the 1000 -acre campus is housed is now lush green. Parts of it host dense forests,sustaining a birdwatcher's paradise and some forms of wild life. The JNU campus is a microcosm of the Indian nation, drawing students from every nook and corner of the country and from every group and stratum of society.
Even as class room teaching and,work in the library and the laboratories have their share in the mode of instruction, personal interaction between students and teachers and among students themselves form an extremely important and lively medium of generation and transmission of knowledge.
Several Centres in these Schools have been declared by the UGC to be Centres of 'Excellence'. These are Centre for Historical Studies, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Centre for Political Studies, Centre for Economic Studies and Planing, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, all in the School of Social Sciences. In addition three Science Schools--School of Physical Sciences, School of Life Sciences and School of Environmental Sciences have also received the UGC recognition as Centers for Excellence.
The School of Environmental Sciences was established in the year 1974. The academic programme of the School has been periodically reviewed, revised and updated, keeping in mind the need for sharper focussing, the available expertise at any given time, and the changes desired in curriculum of individual courses or specific programmes.
The School has diversified interest in various earth, atmospheric and biological processes. Linkages between Ecological and Social processes give an additional dimension to School's interest, making the work relevant. Therefore, the curriculum has components of disciplinary areas such as physical sciences, earth and atmospheric sciences, environmental biology, and environmental monitoring and management. With such a high level of diverse research interests, over 100 students have so far successfully completed their Ph.D. programme in different aspects of Environmental Sciences.