Summer Course on Pakistan at Harvard University

Social Development in Pakistan

SAST S-140

Harvard University Summer School–June 27 to August 12

A Unique Bilocational Course

Connecting Students with Indigenous Leaders in Pakistan

Mondays and Wednesdays

8:30 to 11:30 am in the USA

5:30 to 8:30 pm in Pakistan

Prominent on nearly everyone’s radar screen, Pakistan can easily be characterized as a land of profound paradoxes. It is a nuclear nation whose development indicators are much lower than those of countries with similar income levels. It elected the Muslim world’s first woman head of state, but suffers from extraordinary gender inequality. It offers a few youth unimaginable opportunities, yet confines many more to grinding poverty. It is home to Sufism, a religion of restraint, tolerance, and compassion, yet it also is plagued by horrific and widespread violence.

Pakistan’s most tragic paradox may well be the dominance of a skewed development narrative that overstates instability and underestimates ways in which cooperation and civil discourse can quietly shape the landscape. As evidence, although Pakistan recently suffered a disaster greater than two earthquakes and a tsunami combined, international aid appeals met indifference. On the U.S. side of this course, we aim to counter monologs on terrorism, corruption, and hopelessness by sampling indigenous voices of persistence, enterprise, innovation, and constructive criticism.

At the same time, there is little understanding among Pakistani professionals about how citizens and political workers can improve the social sector’s performance. In many cases, development practitioners have ignited hopes and helped people transform lives through their own efforts. Youth in urban centers also are questioning tradition even as they exhibit conformity. Yet Pakistan’s administrative culture remains rigid and inflexible, resulting in a strong government but a weak governance structure for better service delivery in social development.

Hence, through conversations with guest experts, we aspire to:

  1. educate students and professionals at all levels on social mobilization-based development, rights, and arts movements in Pakistan,
  2. generate interest among students and faculty in research on participatory development, and
  3. increase involvement of U.S. and Pakistani institutions in further education and research in these areas.

Real-time videoconferences will enable unmediated interactions with implementers of solutions to inequalities and injustices, and with expert conservators. Through conversations with these guest experts, students will gain understanding and insight from a richly narrated development story. Three-hour modules will focus on education, health care, rural and urban development, micro-finance and rehabilitation, labor, media activism, politics and human rights, Sufi sacred space, tangible and intangible cultural resources, and the arts of Pakistan.

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