Interviews

HoD SISS, Dr. Rabia Akhtar strives for interdisciplinary trend in academia,

She is to host International Conference on Threats to Security in the 21st Century in May, 2018     

The Head of School of Integrated Social Sciences (SISS) and Director Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), Dr. Rabia Akhtar had a chat with the Spectacle Newsletter in an interview. She spelt out several landmarks under her leadership that are worth sharing. Below are the excerpts.

Q1: SISS is a new department, what was the motivation behind it?

A1: The state of social sciences as a discipline in Pakistan is quite dismal. When I returned to Pakistan after finishing my doctorate in 2015, I wanted to change the face of this discipline. The idea with integrated social sciences was to provide an umbrella platform where different social science subjects could be taught in one program offering various specializations for the students.

Q2: What degree programmes are housed under SISS?

A2: Currently SISS offers only an undergraduate program in Social Sciences with three specialization streams: Politics and International Relations, International Development Studies, Governance and Public Policy.

Q3: What career opportunities are available for the graduates of SISS?

A3: The world is open to our graduates given that they not only specialize in the stream of their choice but are also trained in a variety of subjects during the course of their four years undergraduate studies. A degree in Social Sciences from SISS UOL will allow graduates to explore careers in research, teaching, media and communications, politics, diplomacy, the UNO, NGOs and various INGOs that work on human and transnational security issues. Most of our students are CSS aspirants which in itself promising a great future for successful candidates.

Q4: Are there new developments in SISS?

A4: We are planning to expand the specializations beyond the current three specializations to include Sociology, Psychology and Criminology in coming years. We are also planning to start MPhil and Ph.D programs in International Relations once the program is approved by the Higher Education Commission.  We are also promoting UOL to launch as an academic publisher through University of Lahore press. UOL’s first academic publication which is an edited volume by Dr. Naeem Salik, Senior Fellow, Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad titled ‘Nuclear Pakistan: Seeking Safety and Security’ will be published by University of Lahore in March 2018.

Q5: What kind of academic activities are your students involved in?

A5: Our students are running the Society of International Affairs (SIA) at UOL. Through this platform, they are engaged in bringing top experts in related disciplines to UOL for intellectual conversations that are open for all to attend. Our students have been trained in Model United Nations and participate in MUNs around Pakistan.

 

Q6: What kind of research is going on under CSSPR?

A6: CSSPR is a unique think tank housed in SISS. We have diversified expertise in the center which allows us to explore a vast array of subjects. We regularly run ‘CSSPR in Conversation With’ series in which we invite experts and scholars from various disciplines in Pakistan for roundtables with CSSPR and SISS faculty and students. Some of the research we are currently working on includes counterterrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, water and climate security issues.  We are also working towards launching Pakistan’s first strategic and foreign affairs magazine, Pakistan Politico in coming months.

Q7: Do you have any collaborations with external agencies or universities?

A7: Yes, we have a MoU with the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC, USA on International Nuclear History project. We are also in the process of signing MoU with the Regional Center of Strategic Studies (RCSS), Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Q8: Are there any upcoming events or activities in SISS?

A8: The School of Integrated Social Sciences is hosting a one of its kind international conference on ‘Threats to Security in the 21st Century: Finding a Global Way Forward’ on May 5th-6th, 2018. I encourage our readers to follow us on Twitter @ConL18 and use #SecConUoL18 to promote our conference. Those interested in participating can submit their abstracts at http://csspr.UoL.edu.pk/secconUoL/

Q9: Share with us any other information you find vital for our readers

A9: I encourage readers to explore conversations that are interdisciplinary. We have become prisoners to specializations. Pakistan needs more inter-disciplinarians and SISS is trying to promote this culture at UOL.

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