Shilpa Pandit in her more than two decade long adventure has primarily identified herself as a researcher as it resonates with her being. Working as researcher has meant that she has never viewed work as dichotomous in terms of personal and professional, philosophical and applied, primitive and modern, social and individual, thought and action and other such contrivances even while recognizing the distinctions between them. During her work of 23 years, she has alternatively wandered and worked – as a pilgrim and an exile in three distinct yet linked actions:
Teaching – Shilpa teaches social psychology, research methods and health psychology; She has been teaching as an Associate Professor in Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Kochi. She helped set up the postgraduate program in Psychology and also the launch the PhD program at CVV. At CVV, she helped set up courses such as yoga and meditation in integration with health psychology, nutrition and health in psychology and psychology and law. Earlier, she has taught research methods – esp, qualitative methods and mixed methods in RGNIYD(Rajiv Gandhi National Institute for Youth Development, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu) and BALM’s post-gradutate programme with TISS (Banyan Institute for Leadership in Mental Health). Recently, in 2019 she was the only psychologist to create and take a course on Psychology and Public Policy, for Indian School of Public Policy, New Delhi(Faculty – ISPP) for a postgraduate programme.
Researching: Consulting on issues such as poverty and livelihoods, health and gender, youth and adolescents engagement with work etc. In that reference, she has associated with several organisations- UNICEF, UNDP, IFMR, MSSRF and SIAAP, and KHPT.
As a seeker of the sacred, she has researched on insights from Indian Darśana-s – Advaita and Viśiṣtādvaita Vedānta, Kāśmir Śaiva thought and yoga-sāmkhya. Reviewing concepts and theories emanating thereof, on the way, papers on self, yoga and meditation and rasa theory have been published.
Founding – She along with a few friends co-founded an organization/NGO-Dreampath Foundation(www//: dreampathfoundation.org). Dreampath Foundation is based out of Bengaluru and works with adolescents and youth on work and careers. As of 2020, Dreampath Foundation in its 5 years journey has 15 members in the team, and has reached out to more than 15000 students in 50+ schools in Karnataka, through its workshops and a dedicated career helpline. Currently, she is trying to build a team for another social enterprise for addressing mental health issues in India.
Earlier, Shilpa worked as UNDP Research officer, on public policy relating to rural employment from 2014-2016, with the Ministry of Rural Development. During this time, she visited 10 states and about 40 districts for her field visits. She was part of research review of the MoRD programs-esp., MGNREGA. She is still active on issues relating to social accountability of public service delivery.
Shilpa was also the Head- Monitoring and Evaluation, Hand in Hand(India), from 2016-2018 with a team of 11 members, where M&E routinely commissioned research evaluations for funded projects on women empowerment, health, education and skills in Rural Tamil Nadu and some project areas in rural Madhya Pradesh. In 2018, Shilpa was selected for the Chevening Fellowship (CRISP) at the University of Oxford, UK, for her leadership in social sector.