LUMS and AAS Partner to Cultivate Humanities and Social Sciences in Asia
LUMS has entered into a partnership with the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), the largest US based organisation focusing on Asian studies. This AAS initiated USD 2.68 million project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The aim is to develop research capabilities of professionals in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences in South and Southeast Asia. Universities especially those that have underfunded departments in Humanities and Social Sciences, and are located away from the metropolitan centres, and have also been adversely affected by social and political conflicts are a priority.
‘Cultivating the Humanities and Social Sciences and Supporting Under-Represented Scholars of Asia’ is a major initiative that spans the South and Southeast Asian regions, thereby helping pave the way for new collaborative paths that can be explored. The four universities, each situated in Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, and India will benefit from this grant over a period of four years.
“The most important part of the project is that its focus is on Humanities and Social Sciences, often neglected areas of research and knowledge in most of the academic settings. This particular project is a major step in the right direction,” adds Dr. Furrukh A. Khan, Director, Office of International Affairs, LUMS and Associate Professor, Postcolonial Studies, Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences (MGSHSS), LUMS.
The funding is planned to develop the research capacity of local universities and enhance the academic knowledge, research skills, experience, and resources of their scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The primary focus will be on junior faculty, graduate students, senior and independent scholars, women and the ethnic minority groups from under-represented regions of Pakistan. It intends to support scholars, working in the Humanities and Social Sciences, located in less economically advantaged regions through four routes built around enhancing individual and institutional research capacity. These include short and long-term research grants, graduate student travel allowances, and residence fellowships for individuals from marginalised groups.
In addition to research grants, the Project also aims to organise AAS-in-Asia conferences and trans-regional workshops as well as encourage academic publications and collaborations.
The implementing partner for Pakistan is MGSHSS, LUMS. The University is honoured to be the regional hub for the project. “We will help identify and build the capacity of other universities located away from larger cities in the region. We are looking at universities in Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baltistan, which lag behind when it comes to funding of certain academic programmes,” explains Dr. Khan who is the Hub-Lead of this Project as well. Initially, the collaboration was directed by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali who is now the President of AAS and was formerly the Interim Provost at LUMS.
As far as the implementation goes, “Each hub is supposed to carry out a training workshop, the one is Pakistan will be held in the first week of September. These trainings will eventually lead to a collective conference where the top candidates from each hub will present their research papers,” says Dr. Khan.
“This is an excellent initiative that will not only help build capacity in social sciences regionally but through international linkages, increase our footprint in Asia,” says Dr. Tariq M. Jadoon, Interim, Provost, LUMS.
Additionally, this will help build the University’s profile. “This is an important opportunity and we are perfectly suited to gain advantage of our position. This will also lead to enhanced engagement with other universities, especially in far flung areas in Pakistan,” adds Dr. Khan.