Dr. Arshad Ahmad Delivers Keynote at Asia Universities Summit 2022
Dr. Arshad Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, LUMS, spoke at the Asia Universities Summit this year. Bringing together global thought leaders, industry experts, researchers and academics who shared their experiences and discussed best practices for the development and progress of world-class universities around the world, the three-day summit ran under the theme, ‘Facing the Future, Creating Academic Talent’ and was held in Aichi, Japan from May 31 to June 2, 2022. Dr. Ahmad’s keynote, ‘How powerful are universities for supporting social resilience?’ shed light on maximising societal impact through a holistic educational framework.
During his keynote, Dr. Ahmad explained that as a university in Pakistan students need to be equipped with skills that will help them make meaningful contributions to society. “With the exploding population here in the east and the disruptive forces of change, only truly exceptional education that will prepare us, especially students, to be leaders and innovators, will make a measurable difference. My experience at LUMS has taught me that any educational framework has to be fit for purpose to meet the local developmental needs of the society we serve.”
He shared that LUMS focuses on a few core values to impact society through its academic and research initiatives. "The core values at LUMS are first, merit, that has a whole bunch of implications on equity; second, diversity and inclusion and third, transdisciplinary learning. We wanted to capture these values through a meta perspective and we do that through the philosophy of ‘Learning Without Borders’.”
Highlighting some initiatives under the University’s Learning Without Borders philosophy, Dr. Ahmad talked about the impact of LUMS’ National Outreach Programme (NOP) that provides full scholarships to talented students from across the country who might not have the financial means to attend university. “We see the ripple effect of investing in underrepresented youth really makes a difference. NOP graduates receive scholarships, attend top universities worldwide, become leaders in global companies and many go into public service to give back to their own communities where they came from. “
Another scholarship programme that is contributing towards the University’s efforts in building a more equitable society, has been the Women Scholarships at the Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) at LUMS. Dr. Ahmad mentioned that since the School announced the 50% scholarship, two years ago, for all women enrolled in its programmes, the ratio of women in all of the business school programmes has doubled. SDSB’s Women Scholarships was also recognised by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’s ‘Innovations That Inspire’ programme for its transformative social impact.
The University’s Learning Without Borders ethos goes beyond just scholarships. Dr. Ahmad elaborated that faculty and students from all the five schools at LUMS work together under transdisciplinary research centres to address issues that plague Asia. “A single discipline cannot tackle the grand challenges facing the region. At LUMS, we created an intellectual and physical space to bring together disciplinary experts at different centres. Together they are tackling issues related to energy, water, public policy, entrepreneurship, technology and gender,” he said. He then shared the example of the LUMS Energy Institute, whose recommendations and electric vehicle policy were adopted by the federal government of Pakistan.
Dr. Ahmad’s keynote concluded with an emphasis on the importance of a teaching and learning model that produces graduates that are engaged and thoughtful citizens who can think critically and build collaborations to solve problems and address the needs of communities both locally and internationally.