Pakistan Observer

Importance of humanities & social sciences

Aqeela Asif Shahmadi

Saturday, April 07, 2012 - We live in a rapidly changing world with unsystematic human behavior. On basis of knowledge of humans past actions and their present situation one can not predict what they will do next; human minds does not exhibit underlying thoughts unlike computer with monitor which shows us the clear picture of internal processing. The most obvious thing that happens inside societies is that people have new ideas and want to change their social status accordingly. Rapid technological changes in western societies were stimulated by acceptance of the idea of progress. Europe made progress because it believed in progress and underwent rapid social change because Europeans wanted “change”. In this process of social change education, especially technical education played a vital role. They made tremendous technological advancement but simultaneously promoted humanitarian values and law & order enforcement in their societies.

Humanists and social scientists are called upon to supplement and evaluate critically the economic and political framing of globalization through a focus on culture and the imagination. Formal education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills and techniques, good judgment and wisdom. Informal education has as one of its fundamental goals of imparting development from one generation to the next. Hence both types of education has the techniques and instructions to improve the concepts of life and social skills, including decision-making, negative and positive response skills, critical analysis and systematic judgment abilities. Another description of education is the propagation of a set of beliefs. Beliefs are important originator to both attitudes and behavior because our beliefs shape values and values plays very important role in shaping the structure of the society and culture. Culture is a set of expressions, activities, material and spiritual products, symbols and representations that arise from human activity. Education remains vital to occupational achievement, but as more people get more education, the minimum acceptable level of education for this objective is raised. A culture of peace consists of values, attitudes and behaviors. It reflects and inspires social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, human rights, tolerance and solidarity and rejects violence and extremism. All present developed and peaceful societies of the world reveal this purpose predominantly.

Technical progress has not only changed lifestyles of mankind but also the thought and social setup of the people. Technological advancements altered the world in all respects. However the basic beliefs and values produced dramatic changes in the world history. For more than a century, social scientists have confidently predicted the end of religion but religion is present in the hind site of all modern societies of the world and is effecting even the internal and international polices of developed countries. To teach religion and cultural values is need of the day. Education of theologies in positive direction is very important to shape the character of the students. By implementing this in educational system we can promote the culture of moderation and tolerance according to respective beliefs and values of societies. Teaching of humanities and social sciences as core courses at undergraduate level is essential; however we need to update and modernize the course outlines and teaching techniques according to the prevailing, moderate, tolerant and challenging national and international scenario. Most of the world religions and specially Islam has given the concept of value-based society so it should be the part of our curriculum along with other technical and professional courses at all levels of education. For serving this purpose we need highly trained, moderate, thoughtful and brilliant faculty.

Teaching of humanities and social sciences can promote the culture of peace in addition to psychological effects by addressing the following implications: Humanities and social sciences courses should be teach to promote understanding of moderate and cultured society at all levels of education, through cultural exchanges and youth volunteer work. Volunteer and social work is the compulsory component of humanities education in all developed societies but in our country there is no concept and culture of practical social work in our educational set up at all levels of education. We should create awareness to reducing manufacturing and distribution of arms and ammunitions and should discourage the culture of extremism and militancy. This task can be achieved only by the effective teaching of humanities and social sciences. It is very important to establish the culture of peace generally in the world and particularly within the country. As famous Chinese writer Jing Lin contends in her article that there is a great need for educators to reconceptualize education in the 21st century. She also discussed the danger of global wars, environmental breakdown, moral vacuum and nihilism in societies so we need to update humanities and social sciences courses.

Our educational strategy should be able to develop the ability to articulate participatory proposals for teaching and learning as well as in planning, assessment, decision-making and management, understanding, problem-solving and social sense. And education of humanities should provide opportunities for development of these skills and be linked to social participation, the sciences, the arts, technology, communication skills, creativity, and intelligence for increase in educated, well- informed, skilled and sensible manpower ratio and quality population in the country.

In light of the above we can conclude that education of humanities and social sciences should contribute to the strengthening of unity, involvement, harmony, honesty, creativity, critical and analytical thinking, and commitment to accept change and establish healthy relations with international community. Globalization has stimulated several new study programs in academia. As knowledge becomes increasingly diversified, we need to find new ways for the production, structure, and promotion of knowledge in the different disciplines of humanities and social sciences. Sharing of information is essential to the development of global movement, as stated in the UNO resolution. The authorities should come to the conclusion that humanities should not only remain a topic, but become a compulsory part of each technical and professional degrees curriculum.

— The writer is Assistant Professors at Department of Humanities, CIIT Islamabad Campus.
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