October 19, 2013: Habib University held its first Postcolonial Higher Education Conference (PHEC) in Karachi. The purpose of the conference was to invite global scholars, intellectuals, activists and writers to analyze and discuss the state and challenges of higher education in Pakistan in context of the postcolonial era.
The conference took off with a welcome address by Mr. Wasif Rizvi, President Habib University, followed by an introduction of the event by Dr. Nauman Naqvi, Acting Dean of School of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, and Habib University. Dr. Naqvi spoke about the “Challenges of the Regional Humanities Curriculum” and highlighted the complications in recognizing and accepting arts and humanities as crucial areas of education.
The keynote address was given by Dr. Farid Panjwani, Senior Lecturer and Director, Centre for Research and Evaluation in the Muslim Education, Institute of Education, University of London. While speaking on ‘Passionate sense of the potential: towards constructing a new social imagination’ he talked about the current state of higher education and said, “Education, which was previously a catalyst for faith, hope and resilience, is now under attack. It is has been reworked as a business model, suffering from commodification of knowledge.” Dr. Panjwani also shared his observations regarding the role of liberal arts in the development of critical thinkers and how the continuing damage to education can be countered by inculcating social imagination in education systems.
The conference featured a variety of prominent speakers including Dr. Sanjay Seth, Professor of Politics, Centre for Post-Colonial Studies, University of London; Professor Ravindran Sriramachandran from the Department of International Studies, American University of Sharjah; and Dr. Rubina Saigol, an independent researcher specializing in social development. Dr. Saigol presented her views on the role of social sciences and its impeded growth as an area of learning. When stressing on the lack of resources directed towards nurturing thinkers, she brought to attention the current practice of producing skilled workers by institutions for the capitalist society. Dr. Sriramachandran spoke about the changing dynamics of Indian education and its connection with colonial education.
PHEC ended with a panel discussion on Literature and Culture in Dark Times, with renowned writers, Mohammad Hanif and Intizar Husain; Asif Farruki, noted writer and literary critic; and celebrated architect and urban planner, Arif Hasan taking questions and interacting with the audience.
Click here, to view Lectures on PHEC Conference
To view media coverage of PHEC, click on the links below:
- ‘Why reinforce religion in a society struggling with extremism?’ – The Express Tribune
- First annual Habib University conference – The Nation
- In today’s world, the business of knowledge is bankrupting higher education – The Express Tribune
- Thinking of getting an IT or business degree? The neoliberals are laughing – The Express Tribune
- Are dark times when the mangoes were ripening before they exploded – The Express Tribune
- Call to rethink role of marketing in education – Dawn News
- Commercialisation of higher education is ‘self-defeating’ – The News