Course Descriptions

CORE 101: Rhetoric & Communication
The command of language and the ability to communicate effectively in speech and writing is essential to leadership. This is why eloquence in the broadest sense is one of the most highly valued benefits of a Liberal Arts education. The opening course in our Liberal Core is designed to develop the reading and presentation skills that our students will need throughout their lives. Our curriculum nurtures our students’ rhetorical abilities throughout their college career, especially through the Liberal Core. Rhetoric & Communication is designed to first identify the different aspects of expression and eloquence as distinct and essential abilities, and to develop and improve them through application and practice.

Explaining the combination of powers involved in the ancient division of rhetoric into invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, the Roman orator Cicero says in his classic text on rhetoric, De Oratore: “Since all the activity and ability of an orator falls into five divisions, he must first hit upon what to say; then manage and marshal his discoveries, not merely in orderly fashion, but with a discriminating eye for the exact weight as it were of each argument; next go on to array them in the adornments of style; after that keep them guarded in his memory; and in the end deliver them with effect and charm.”

The material, classroom experience, and exercises of Rhetoric & Communication are designed to cultivate all five of these critical abilities, together with sophisticated reading skills. Class content will focus on compelling and relevant texts that anticipate the themes of the larger Liberal Core, and they are chosen to elicit opinion and encourage discussion and debate. As they develop their powers of reading seminal texts, students will practice and improve communication skills through regular writing assignments as well as presentations. Rhetoric & Communication will also feature the ethics of discourse and communication, so that tact and respect for the other become an essential part of students’ experience and understanding of rhetorical ability.

CORE 102: What is Modernity?
No one in the medieval world thought they were ‘medieval.’ The belief that we live in a distinct period of world history – that of ‘modernity’ – sets us apart from all pre-modern peoples. It is a defining aspect of who we are, essential to our modern identities. It is thus imperative to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, and it is essential to the task of thoughtful self-cultivation. Habib University’s pedagogical charter of yohsin requires us to ask the questions: What is it to be modern? What is modernity?

Our ‘modernity’ is the very air we breathe. It encompasses, at an ever-gathering pace, all aspects of our lives. This is why the question of modernity has been a central concern across the range of disciplines and fields of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. This course will address the most important elements of our global and regional modernity today. Beginning with an investigation of the emergence of this unique world-historical identity, we then turn to the historical formation of key structures and features of the modern in the following domains: political modernity; economic modernity; modernity and ecology; and modernity and religion. By the end of the semester the historical character and specificity of these foundational spheres of our present will be visible.

CORE 201: Pakistan & Modern South Asia
Nation-states – including that of Pakistan – emerged in the region of South Asia in the middle of the 20th century. How did such a world-historical event come about? What has it meant for the peoples of this region? In short, what is the history of our present – what is the history of our regional modernity?

This question takes on a particular urgency in Pakistan as the region passes through the current period of crisis and change. With a significant focus on the emergence and trajectory of Indo-Muslim nationalism and the creation of Pakistan, this course will be an overview of the modern history of South Asia from the immediate pre-colonial historical scene, through the colonial period, including the rise of anti-colonial nationalism and decolonization, to the Cold War and the contemporary period of transformation and turmoil.

Apart from the main outlines of the history of modern South Asia, students will also learn to place the region’s colonial modernity within the larger framework of modern history. Students will learn to identify major features of the colonial economy, politics, and society under which – especially after the Great Rebellion of 1857 – regional religious and other social reform movements emerged, nationalisms formed, and the dramatic transformation of regional languages and traditions took place, processes that continue into the present.

Students will learn to see contemporary conflicts, ideologies, identities, and structures as specific to the modern period rather than as natural cultural expressions, and they will begin to see regional cultures and societies themselves as historical entities.

CORE 202: Hikma I – History of Islamic Thought
After the interrogation of modernity in Core 102 and 201 in particular, Core 202 turns to a second meta-theme of the Habib Liberal Core Curriculum: the question of inheritance. Ranging across philosophy, literature, history, law, and the arts, Hikma I is an encompassing survey of Islamicate thought that seeks to give a sense of the historical and philosophical complexity and depth of the tradition, with significant reference to the region of South Asia.

In the module on ‘Religion & Modernity’ in Core 102, and subsequently in our historical survey of socio-religious as well as nationalist reform and revivalist movements in the colonial period in Core 201, we studied the dramatic transformation and discursive constitution of ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ in the colonial-modern period. Both regionally, as well as in the global modern generally, ‘Islam’ and its cultures and societies, have also become particularly sensitive and difficult regions of the discursive landscape.

CORE 121: Jehan-e-Urdu (The World of Urdu)
This course is designed to fulfill our commitment to the vernacular, as well as to reap the potential of modern Urdu literature and criticism to illuminate decisive aspects of our modernity. Jehan-e-Urdu is a pedagogically dynamic course that will rapidly advance students’ appreciation and knowledge of Urdu through engagement with powerful texts of prose and poetry selected to speak to the concerns of the student today, opening up Urdu as a living world of insight and thought.

CORE 200: Scientific Methods
How do we make decisions? How do we evaluate information? Should we trust all information? How should we decide which information is trustworthy? How do we recognize the limitations of a claim? These matters are not only for practicing scientists but form an important part of our daily lives. At a time when information is more easily accessible than ever before, how do we intelligently utilize available information in making choices? How should we develop our evidence-based decision making skills? This course builds on the foundations of scientific methods of inquiry and works to apply them to our everyday lives. Utilizing a wide array of examples, it illustrates scientific methods and their applications.