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University of the Punjab

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PU IES hosts Int’l Training Workshop for PhD supervisors
PU IES hosts Int’l Training Workshop for PhD supervisors

LAHORE: (Saturday, March 26, 2022): Punjab University Institute of English Studies (IES) in collaboration with Englishers International and Oxford University Press organized an International Training Workshop for PhD Supervisors in English Studies. This workshop, which is first of its kind in Pakistan, consists of eight sessions, three of which were held today. More than ninety candidates from across the country have registered for the workshop which is attended by 4 international and a dozen of national scholars. The inaugural session started with a welcome note from Prof. Dr. Amra Raza, Director IES, Dean Arts and Humanities, PU. It was followed by an adress by Pro Vice Chancellor PU, Pro. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar who highlighted the importance of such workshops by regarding them a good opportunity for sharing contemporary discoveries, updates and personal experiences. Playing up the importance of social sciences, he said that no society has ever developed scientifically without having been developed socially. He further added that students should be encouraged to widen their studies beyond their curriculum so that a society of balanced intelligentsia come into being. Mr. Fayaz Raja, Director Sales Oxford University Press (OUP), came after that to represent OUP and enlighten audience regarding the purpose of the workshop and the culture of piracy in Pakistan.
The third address was by Dr. Muntazar Mehdi, Assistant Professor at NUML and President Englishers. He said that generating ideas is easy but what is difficult is the conceiving and executing of those ideas. He was hopeful that this workshop will set an example and will be followed by unlimited other training programs. Dr. Antonio Taglialatela, Director Trainings, Englishers/ Tuscia University, Italy briefly introduced the field of research, its challenges (especially for young writers) and purpose of the ongoing training. The inaugural session came into an end with a plenary speech by Prof. Dr. Shahid Siddiqui, Former Vice Chancellor, AIOU &  Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Media Studies, Art and Design, Lahore School of Economics. His topic was "Revisiting PhD Research in Language, Literature and Linguistics in Pakistan." Regarding change as a continuous and fast process, he elaborated the educational challenges of the 21st Century and the importance of social development besides economic development. He added that the definition of education as a process of communicating information is very misleading. Instead, education is not only the preservation of the past knowledge rather it is also a process of constructing new knowledge on regular basis. He also emphasized on exploring new territories in research, pushing the boundaries of methodology and making use of new research tools. He also explained the need to know the philosophical considerations of research paradigms and necessity of interdisciplinary research. After a break for tea, the 1st session started with a speech by Mr. Zaid from Oxford University Press. He pinned down the contributions of Oxford University Press in term of publishing different genres of books, types of intellectual property and copyright issues. He explained how the great poets Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi had suffered due to the illegal publications of their books.
Sunehra Mehmood, Assistant Commissioning Editor, Oxford University Press, Pakistan; continued the session with her talk on "Publishing PhD Research and Adapting Material for Textbooks." She discussed the aims of their institution along with project conception, author selection process, expectations from authors and the conversion of theses to books.
There was a break for prayer which was followed by lunch. The 2nd session initiated with the virtual talk by Prof. Nico Carpentier from Charles University, Prague. His topic was "Power and Supervision: PhD Student Participation and Collaborative Models." While shedding light on the concept of participation he argued that "participation isn't just a matter of being there. Rather, it also includes the authority of being part of the decision making body." He talked over participation as the equalization of power relations, the impossibility of maximalist participation and a few modern contributions to rebalancing power relations. He also stressed the need to encourage mutual learning instead of the one-sided teaching approach. Session 3 was composed of 2 plenary sessions:  "Indigenizing Research in Language & Linguistics" chaired by Dr. Tayyaba Tamim Assoc. Prof. LUMS and "Indigenizing Research in English Studies" Chaired by Prof. Dr. Safeer Awan, Pro-Rector, NUML. Dr. Shahid Imtiaz, Assoc. Prof. Riphah International University, spoke about "Situating Lahore in Colonial and Postcolonial Times." Tracing back the term "indigenous" to 1970, he extended his discourse to the indigenous resistance to colonizers, the design of colonial architecture, renaming indigenous names by colonizers and the relation between colonizers and colonized. Keeping on the session, Dr. Uzma Abid Ansari, Asst. Prof., NUML had her talk on "Developing an Interdisciplinary Approach towards Dismantling Eurocentric Methodologies in the Humanities." She reasoned that "the 1st step to Indigenization is decolonization and the 1st step to decolonization is the deconstruction of English departments." In her view "what remains after decolonization, is indigenous."
Dr. Shahzeb Khan, Asst. Prof. IES, PU debated on "Pivoting Research on Indigeneity or the Question of Self in Research." His insightful and inspiring speech included comments on: the lack of vision in English Departments, colonial background of English Departments in Universities and the colonial research patterns. He was of the view that “the purpose of English departments wasn't the creation of new knowledge. Rather, they were meant to introduce locals with the Eurocentric ideologies for bureaucratic purposes." He said that no way was given to creativity in local universities and departments like that of English have served as colonial outposts. Talking about the colonialized mentality, he added that "unfortunately, we regard the "national" English literature as universal." He further said that it is a great misfortune that researchers in our country quote western scholars very proudly but hesitate to cite the local researchers. Dr. Khurshid Alam, Asst. Prof. IES, PU had his topic: "Indigenous Romances, Folklore and Oral Narratives as Research Themes at PhD Level." Furnishing his speech with soulful Punjabi and Persian poetry, he disclosed the secular nature of research paradigms. He argued that almost all local poets start their books with Hymns but the prevailed research paradigms are still secular. He further said that researching our indigenous romances can lead us to the self we look for. The session came to the end with the distribution of shields among the participant speakers by Prof. Dr. Amra Raza.