GCU to establish Institute of History
Academic Council of Government College University, Lahore, approves the establishment of Institute of History. The first of its kind in Pakistan, the Institute will comprise three departments: History of Art, Archive Studies and History.
Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi, GCU’s VC, said: “Nations and communities are judged on the basis of their art. How unfortunate it is that we do not have any art history department in Pakistan. We do not teach our students to understand our and others’ cultures. This lack of knowledge reflects in the form of fragmentation, misperception, fear of the unknown, extremism and identity crisis in our society. We rely on the West and India to understand ourselves”.
Department of History of Art will offer BS, MPhil and PhD degrees. Prof Zaidi said: “The orientation of our art history programmes is global. Dr Priya Maholay at the National University of Singapore, Prof Shaukat Mahmood (Maxim), and Dr Nadhra Shahbaz of LUMS helped our team to design the programmes on the pattern of Harvard, Cambridge and UC Berkeley. We wish to produce a critical, thinking mind, who could appreciate the diversity and plurality of this world. Our graduates will have a leading role in the art and heritage industry which has now reached 32 billion US dollars.”
Department of Archive Studies will offer MPhil and PhD degree programmes along with a Certificate Course for professionals.
According to Prof Zaidi, “As a country, we have to preserve our institutions’ memory and record. Without records in order, we can neither reflect on our institutional practices nor can we devise a forward-looking strategy. The result can be in the degeneration of institutions. No state can survive this chaos. Archive Studies is a lifeline for our country. The Punjab government approached us several times to establish this department. Our trained archivists will make records available to administrators, researchers and policy-makers, which will ensure the stability and progress of our institutions.”
GCU nominated Dr Kevin Greenbank, archivist at the University of Cambridge, and Muhammad Mazher Saeed, deputy director at National Archives Islamabad as external experts for preparing Archive Studies programmes. The courses are designed on the pattern of leading archive studies departments at UC Berkeley, Liverpool and British Columbia. The training focuses on understanding, interpreting, collecting and maintaining archival records in hard and digital forms.
Dr Greenbank termed the establishment of Archive Studies an “extremely important step which will benefit not only those who take the courses but also the study of history and wider systems of governance and accountability throughout the country. The department will create a possibility for Pakistan to become a leading light in the field in the South Asia region”. Mazher Saeed said: “Pakistan has only one professional archivist. All important institutions and departments such as armed forces, judiciary, police, district management offices, national and provincial assemblies, banks, educational institutions, have archives but without any archivist. Archive Studies is the need of hour.”