Islamabad - Chairman Higher Education Commission, Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, has said that HEC has been endeavouring to promote and intensify research in social sciences.

“We have set up a dedicated social sciences section at HEC to identify realities of diverse social and human issues which Pakistan is facing. Thematic Research Grants Programme, whose third phase has been launched, has been specifically designed to address contemporary issues of the country.” Further, the chairman said that the scholars and researchers of social sciences and humanities, who have theoretical, conceptual, methodological and policy orientation background, have been invited for grants. “Their research projects may belong to any social sciences and humanities discipline or may be interdisciplinary as well as multidisciplinary in nature. Groups or individual researchers/ scholars from public as well as private sector universities and degree awarding institutions can submit their proposals,” he said.

Research themes, on which proposals will be submitted, include security challenges in Pakistan; Pakistani society: tradition and change; balancing global and local needs: geo-political economy; education policy, leadership and management for the 21st century; and governance and development.

The chairman further said that the committee for development of social sciences and humanities in Pakistan (CDSSHP), established by HEC, has been tasked to deliberate upon and identify the problems, and recommend immediate, short-term as well as long-term measures to make Social Sciences education vibrant, dynamic and attuned to the present and future needs of Pakistan.

“The primary objective of this Committee is to develop existing level of faculty and to create an environment conducive to research and development activities in Social Sciences and Humanities. Besides, the Committee also focuses on institutional and infrastructure development, and reviewing quality assurance standards. There are 14 Subcommittees in different disciplines falling under Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities and Business Education, and each is chaired by individual member of CDSSHP,” he said.

The chairman revealed that Pakistan had gained membership of the Asian Social Sciences Association (ASSA) and Pakistan will host the Association’s first meeting in October this year. Moreover, he said that HEC, in collaboration with the University of Peshawar, is holding the 3rd Social Sciences Conference in May 2015. He also highlighted HEC’s plan to establish Social Sciences Research Council, Pakistan. “The aim of all these initiatives is to identify indigenous needs and priorities to address issues of national importance, enhance interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and link Social Sciences for providing solutions to issues that face us.

The ultimate aim would be to advice the Government on National Social Policy for more concerted work in the field.”

Dr Mukhtar said that HEC is also promoting societal research through publications of research journals falling under the disciplines of social sciences, arts, humanities and business education. “Evaluation, recognition, categorisation, funding and up gradation of research journals of social sciences and humanities is being special attention.”