Habib University’s Social Development and Policy (SDP) Program held its first Undergraduate Research Conference on April 27, 2019. The conference highlighted the research contributions of its senior students and alumni as well as class projects.
Dr. Ambar Darr, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Law, Economics, and Society (CLES) and Teaching Fellow at UCL, delivered the keynote speech, in which she discussed the impact of democracy on law reforms and the importance of a transparent and accountable decision-making process.
Students presented their thesis papers regarding important themes in social science research such as Sustainability, Issues in Education, Feminist Research, Cultural Heritage and Anthropology and more.
These research ideas have focused on the many problems that Pakistan faces in a variety of domains, be they policy and governance, environment and resources management, relations with foreign countries, corporations and institutions, political instability and radicalism, women’s conditions, to name a few.
Of particular relevance in carrying out these studies has been the constant connection between theory and practice, one of the guiding principles of the SDP Program. The diversity and reach of the different projects presented at the Conference reflect the Program’s interdisciplinary nature.
The faculty supervising these projects features Pakistani and international scholars, who offer courses in every major field of the social sciences, including sociology, economics, public policy, anthropology and political science.
The SDP Program seeks to endow graduating students with critical insights to better understand the core values of development and progress, aiming to train a new generation of social scientists and practitioners.
Essential in this process is to incorporate lived experience and contextual understanding into policy and program design at organizational, national and international levels.
In this sense, the Undergraduate Research Conference sought to offer Habib University SDP graduating seniors the possibility to present their work in an academic setting and showcase their yearlong research projects to the wider public.
Some of the presentations included, for example, the economic-political impact on Pakistan of CPEC, mental health and the social standing of firstborn males, Hindu and Muslim musical traditions in Lasbela, the consequences of e-waste in developing countries, and an analysis of the Zina Ordinances under General Zia ul-Haq.
In the spirit of the SDP Program, these topics attest a variety of issues addressed in a multi and interdisciplinary fashion.
The Conference was also the occasion for launching Tezhib, the first undergrad research journal at Habib University, which aims to publish and record the work produced by students. Though the journal is primarily focused on the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS), in future it is also looking to present the works of the Dhanani School of Science and Electric Engineering (DSSE).
A number of distinguished guests attended the conference as well, as either panel chairs, discussant or speakers, notably Dr. Asma Abbas, Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, Dr. Tabinda Sarosh, Dr. Agha Xaher Gul, Dr. Sadrudin Pradhan and Sarah Malkani.