Humanities and social sciences instills sympathy, empathy and humility in minds of learners

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Ajaya Thapa, PhD, Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Pokhara University who has been rendering his meticulous service for more than two decades in this institution, has acquired a phenomenal academic and administrative work experience. 

Prof. Thapa has shared the present status of the University, his strategic planning for the promotion and acclamation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Pokhara University, with College Readers. Excerpts:

Could you share with us the present status of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Pokhara University?

Pokhara University offers an array of course in four faculties: Faculty of Science and Technology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Management Studies and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. So, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is one of the four functioning faculties of Pokhara University at present. The University has been offering Bachelor’s, Master’s, MPhil and PhD courses in various subjects. We offer Bachelor of Development Studies (BDEVS), Bachelor of English and Communication Studies (BECS), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship Development (BED), five years’ Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws (B.A.LL.B.) as Bachelor level programs. Similarly, Master of Arts in English (MA English), Master in Population, Gender and Development (MPGD), Master of Development Studies (MDEVS), one year pedagogy science are running as Master’s level programs. Besides, the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) program in English from 2014 intake and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Programs in Humanities (Research Only Track), admitted only after completing MPhil , and PhD in Development Studies (Coursework-Research Track), after Master’s degree, are being offered by the faculty of humanities and social sciences.

How many programs are being operated by both constituent and affiliated colleges?

Currently, MA English is operating by the Institute of Advanced Communication Education and Research Center (IACER), Baneshwor as an affiliated college. Similarly, Butwal Model College operated Master’s in Population, Gender and Development (MPGD) program some years back, but it has not enrolled any students in these programs since last couple of years. Moreover, the PhD program was run by faculty of doctor’s commission but now the regulation has slightly revised and the doctor’s council has been brought under the faculty headed by the Dean.  And the rest of the programs are running through constituent colleges of the University since the University has not many affiliated colleges as TU.  In true sense, the programs of Pokhara University under Humanities and Social Sciences have new trend and taste in course content in comparison to the humanities programs of other universities. 

How is the initiative of the faculty to make Humanities and Social Sciences course sellable in the global market? 

In fact, the traditional trend of humanities and social sciences courses are based on theory and concept, but the University focuses on applied courses and has brought integrated courses in order to bestow constructive knowledge and skills through student-engaging pedagogies. In other words, the University disseminates an integrated course in Humanities and Social Sciences covering a wide range of study areas. These courses are designed for students who are assured of acquiring both professional skills and knowledge consummately. Regarding the perpetual effects of the courses in the context of Nepal, there are as many as 2500-4000 NGOs and foreign grant-based projects which require graduates of Humanities and Social Sciences. Similarly, more than 245 INGOs, over 73 American, Indian, German, British, Dutch, Australian and Japanese projects are being operated in a full-fledged way. So, there is a massive market and we are preparing graduates as per their requisites; however, we need a proper connect between them. Our university is creating such opportunities for its graduates. So, we revise and update the courses based on need of development projects. Moreover, we organize workshops with the involvement of experts of these organizations and prepare the courses including their feedback. 

It is heard that there are several need-based programs under Humanities and Social Sciences but due to lack of proper advertisement these programs are losing their acclamation.

 What specific plans have you made which would ensure wide promotion of these courses to reach a wider network of prospective students?

In the present context, we have limited colleges to launch these programs. Our concentration is on extending and expanding the programs. We have launched entrepreneurial development programs in collaboration with Ministry of Industries and Commerce. The message is conveyed up to 753 local levels through this ministry. Similarly, we have collected feedback from NGOs and INGOs and project experts while designing the curriculums. Several workshops are conducted and feedback is collected from native and foreign experts. Nevertheless, our focus is on promoting local needs adopting the policy of demand and supply.

It is verisimilitude that most of university courses in Nepal are not market oriented due to lack of research while designing them. How do you acknowledge the effort of PoU in research work before formulating the curriculum?

Research is an inevitable need of global market. So, Pokhara University focuses on research-based curriculum development. The entrepreneurship development course has been prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Industries and UNDP. Similarly, the native entrepreneurs, subject experts are invited to a series of workshop. Besides, we have signed an MoU with Tribhuvan University and Kathmandu University’s department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIDS, the organization of think-tank, national rural municipality organization for paid internship to our fresh graduates where they acquire intensive practical skills that would bring them both fame and fortune. 

What message would you like to convey as the Dean of PoU?

Humanities and Social Sciences has a wide range of prospects and scope in Nepal and abroad. For this, we must internalize humanitarian sentiments in our graduates to be real humans filled with sympathy, empathy and humility. The knowledge and skill is worthless without humanitarian feelings. Similarly, social engineering is required for social development. 

Considering all these facts, The PU Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has introduced and launched integrated courses which are consolidated with social engineering and human welfare. So, this is my courtesy call to all the concerned authorities to join hand in hand to prepare human resources equipped with life-skills, knowledge and ethics, which would be a great contribution to the society and nation. 

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