Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad Needs To Establish A Department Of Philosophy – OpEd
By Irfan Mahar
Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad (Pakistan) is considered the country’s top university because of its standard and quality of education. It has highly educated faculty members who are primarily foreign qualified and well known in their respective fields. Moreover, for many previous years, QAU has been ranked as the number one university in the country in general categories of universities because of the research work produced by its faculty members and students. However, the most important and positive factor of QAU is its social and academic environment, which helps its students think critically and raise questions related to politics, society, economics, culture, and religion. In addition, QAU is like a vase in which multiple kinds of flowers are kept. Similarly, QAU is a place where people from every nook and corner of the country gather and study together, such as people from the four provinces Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, including the people from Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, come for higher education. They all live and study together in a very peaceful and cooperative environment.
Although there are many social sciences departments in QAU which teach the subjects related to philosophy, such as the Department of History and School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), even there is a dire need for a separate department of Philosophy at QAU where all subjects and various programs related to the philosophy should be taught. However, the question arises of why QAU needs a separate department of philosophy? According to the American Philosophical Association, the role of philosophy in higher education is most important. Because “the discipline of philosophy contributes in an indispensable way to the realization of four goals that should be fundamental to any institution of higher learning: instilling habits of critical thinking in students; enhancing their reading, writing, and public speaking skills; transmitting cultural heritage to them; stimulating them to engage fundamental questions about reality, knowledge, and value”.
Furthermore, the department of philosophy contributes to goals such as critical thinking or logical reasoning, sensitivity to values, and awareness of global issues. It can work together productively with other disciplines, such as the environmental sciences, economics, political science, and law, in assessing a variety of problems. It can do exceptionally well in public service, continuing education, alumni relations, consultations, and public visibility. It also improves a person’s problem-solving capabilities. It facilitates the analysis of concepts, definitions, arguments, and problems. It promotes our capacity to organize ideas and issues, deal with questions of value, and root out what is essential from large amounts of information. It helps us, on the one hand, to differentiate delicate and subtle differences between views and, on the other hand, to find out common ground between opposing positions. It also helps to synthesize various ideas of perspectives into one unified whole.
Furthermore, it can play a central role in any well-balanced college or university curricula. The study of philosophy contributes distinctively and substantially to the development of students’ critical thinking. It enhances their ability to deal rationally with value and ethical responsibility issues. It extends their understanding of interdisciplinary questions. It strengthens their grasp of intellectual history and culture concerning others. It increases their capacity to articulate and assess world views and improves their writing and speaking skills. It can contribute to rational decision making in resolving public issues on campuses as well as in communities. It helps students develop a unique approach to important topics and serve as consultants on various problems. Moreover, philosophical investigation can help clarify every domain of human existence. The study of philosophy can help students in all the ways, such as it can help them both in their academic work and their general problem-solving.
The worthy Vice-Chancellor of QAU, Dr Muhammad Ali, is a renowned academician with a professional background. He earned his PhD from the University of Wales, UK and Post Doc from MU, Colombia, USA. He won 19 national awards based on research and teaching quality, including the Pakistan Academy of Sciences Gold Medal, Best University Teacher Award, and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz. Therefore, he can better understand the need for and importance of the philosophy program at the university. In this regard, Dr Ali should take serious steps toward establishing the department of philosophy at QAU as he could further improve the standards and quality of education at the university.
*The writer is PhD Scholar at the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan.