Knowledge-based Economy (KE) and Social Sciences in Pakistan: Problems and Prospects

Syed Owais's picture
Type: 
Conference
Date: 
January 7, 2019 to January 21, 2019
Location: 
Pakistan
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Social Sciences, Sociology, Research and Methodology, Humanities

Since its inception in 2002, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has instituted a number of reforms and new initiatives to ‘revolutionise’ higher education in the country. As part of this drive, it recently held a national consultative workshop the report of which was intriguingly subtitled as “Carpe Diem –Seize the Day for a Better Future” (HEC, 2017). The report, among other plans, mentions that HEC

will focus more attention on relatively less emphasised programmes in Humanities, Social Sciences, Creative and Performing Arts and Design. The rich cultural traditions in these areas need to be nurtured further to create an enlightened soft image of our society, add value to our economy through creative and performing arts and design, tourism and highlight our ethical and aesthetic values. Strong undergraduate and graduate programmes in global history, geography, regional and area studies, economics, anthropology/sociology, philosophy, languages, religious studies, need to be offered in our universities both as part of required general education and major areas of emphasis (HEC, 2017: 14).

Alongside this the report equally and thoroughly emphasise on transforming universities as powerhouses of knowledge for economic development of the country, viz., knowledge-based economy (KE). While for an uninitiated (social sciences and beyond) audience the notion of KE might be a welcoming initiative but for well-informed readers and researchers – particularly in social sciences – it might rise too many hairs of which we would like to highlight few to incite social science/humanities scholars/research and those with interest in social science role in KE. 

The architects of OECD’s(1996)policy paper on knowledge-based economy write about 4 kinds of knowledge, viz., (1) know-what (2), know-why, (3) know-how, and (4) know-who. Yet, while a policy document like that of HEC’s (above) might have extended a soft and ‘patronising’ hand to social sciences, most of our national policy-makers and other power-wielders look at KE exclusively from the lens of physical/natural science. Although, there is no second argument in the observations that (physical & natural) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are cogs and oil of the industrial and post-industrial age, nonetheless, these disciplines do not help us in understanding know-how or know-who. It is the human sciences along with some management disciplines that can harness the potential of STEM for KE. Moreover, for a physical/natural scientist the notion of ‘knowledge’ might be straightforward but for social scientists the very notion of what constitutes as knowledge and whether knowledge should be for sale or not might be highly contested. Nonetheless, even if academics agree on the meaning of this construct and let it go on sale for the higher goal of economic revival of Pakistan, many might consider it a tall order for social scientists. Likewise, HEC’s emphasis on investing in social sciences and humanities to “nurture soft image of our [Pakistani] society”seem to suggest a morning-show-like anchoring role for social sciences. Emphasis on research productivity in this sense, while going astray from the role Social Sciences and Humanities could play in KE, also seems to make it the midwife of political and military establishment.

Even if we agree on the above to be the ‘true’ role of social sciences and humanities), we feel a dire and timely need to hold a 2-days conference that aims to bring together and promote dialogue among academic and non-academic social scientists as well as graduate research (MPhil & PhD) students, teachers, and practitioners interested in the intersectional issues of knowledge, society, economy and academia to discuss and critique their experiential, theoretical and empirical ideas on different facets of Knowledge-production and social science/humanities disciplines. The conference comfortably dwells across many disciplinary ‘boundaries’, and, therefore, it will provide the first-ever academic platform for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary dialogue and discussion on this cutting-edge issue. It is hoped that the conference will also attract significant attention from HEC’s regional and national offices; it shall particularly be an intuitively enlightening experience for these and other policy-making institutions and representatives from Pakistani universities to discuss as well as to see for themselves the gaps between what is touted as knowledge-based economy (KE) and how, for various practically demonstrable reasons, social sciences might be altogether out of the race for it. Within the intersectional issues of knowledge, society, economy and academia, the conference invites paper abstracts and conference papers on any of the following subthemes: 

  • Theoretical and empirical reflections on the role and performance of academic social scientists.
  • Major challenges in research productivity of social scientists in academia including, but not restricted to, issues of conducive and supportive environment for research funding, production of academic papers, books and other modes of scholarship.
  • Challenges and prospects of diversification of social sciences and humanities in terms of newer methodological, theoretical and substantive foci including discussion and deliberation on issues of multidisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity.
  • Socio-cultural (under)valuation of various social science/humanities disciplines, its reasons and ways to improve their public profile through using various fora in the universities. 
  • Individual and organizational factors in paucity of ‘impact-driven’ ‘cutting-edge’ research.
  • Theoretical, substantive and policy relevance of various research themes and streams over which academicians and research students conduct research. 
  • Challenges in identifying and accessing places inside academia to get support for applying for funding to various research-grant organisations?
  • Individual, organizational and wider politico-economic factors in the relative lack of proper reward management system that values researchers more over politically-entrenched organizational incumbents who might be more of parasites on academia yet they might discourage or create bottlenecks academic social scientists to pursue open and rigorous research agenda.
  • Analysis of administrative-legal set up of academia with an angle to see if these micro-regimes increase or decrease the cost of doing social science research.
  • Analysis of the role of Organisation for Research, Innovation, & Commercialisation (ORIC), Quality Enhancement Cell (QEC) and graduate research institutes (e.g., graduate schools) in creating research-conducive environment. 

Submission of Abstracts/Papers

The Department of Sociology at the University of Peshawar (Pakistan) requests abstracts of no more than 300 words from academicians and practitioners on either of the topics listed above along with a short biography to be submitted to the conference organizing committee by January 07, 2019. Abstracts should include a title, research question(s), information about methodological and theoretical frameworks, and a summary of the main argument. Abstracts/papers will be peer-reviewed and the selected paper-presenters will be contacted by January 14, 2019. The final date for the submission of complete paper is January 21, 2019. All conference-related correspondence shall be made through the email: keconomy2018@gmail.com. Authors should adhere to the following guidelines for research paper.

  • Name of Author(s)
  • Word Limit: 4000 – 5000 words
  • Font style: New Time Roman 
  • Font size: 12
  • Line spacing: single
  • Citation style: APA
  • Margins: 1 inch from each side
  • Paper size: A4

Conference Facilities (for Key Note Speakers/Paper/Poster Presenters Only!)

  • Free accommodation will be provided to the key note speakers and paper presenters on shared bases within the University campus. The selected paper or poster presenters are required to inform Conference Secretary about accommodation at the time of submission of research paper/poster.

Important Dates

Last Date for Abstract/Paper Submission

January 07, 2019

Confirmation of Abstract/Paper Acceptance

January 14, 2019.

Last Date for Submission of Full Paper

January 21, 2019

 

Contact Info: 

Please contact the following for any conference-related query.

Dr. Noor Sanauddin

Assistant Professor (Sociology), Department of Sociology, University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

E.mail: noor.sanauddin@uop.edu.pk

Tel: +92 91 9221042 | Mobile: +92 345 2503778

 

Dr. Syed Owais

Assistant Professor (Sociology), Department of Sociology, University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

E.mail: owais@uop.edu.pk

Tel: +92 91 9221042 | Mobile: +92 332 1953643

 

 

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