Development studies is a relatively modern academic discipline which focuses on studying the causes of social, economic, and political change in contemporary societies. It pays particular attention to the processes of sustainable economic transformation and seeks to understand the drivers of change in this arena through rigorous academic study and research. It is a vast field of intellectual and academic enquiry and some of the researchers in this field, such as Amartya Sen, Robert Solow and many others have won Noble Prizes for their work. Over the last 10-15 years, there has been an expansion in taught courses at various levels around the globe particularly in British, European and the American universities. Programs offered in Western universities have often been criticized for advancing a particular agenda focused on market-based solutions to intractable problems of poverty and social development without taking into account the peculiar historic experiences of diversified societies throughout Asia and Africa.
Pakistan is a developing country with various levels of poverty and economic development across its regions and within the provinces. The Gilgit-Baltistan region is a peculiar area located in high plateaus and surrounded by many snowcapped mountains. Much of the population inhabits in rural settings with major parts of livelihoods associated and dependent upon agricultural and related activities. A growing market in domestic and international tourism has added a niche recently and diversified sources of livelihood and income generation. Within this broad context the introduction of international development organizations, but more specifically, the initiation of the rural development projects under the aegis of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), in early 1980s unleashed a unique social transformation in the entire Gilgit-Baltistan. In the short span of only fifteen years, the average incomes of the local people were doubled through improved farming methods, increased agricultural productivity, and diversifying associated economic activities. This remarkable phenomenon achieved in a harsh climatic and conservative cultural setting was studied and applauded by the World Bank, in its series of evaluation reports published in 1991 and 1993, with strong recommendations to replicate this model in similar societies elsewhere. Indeed, the Pakistan government replicated the rural development model of Gilgit-Baltistan throughout the country, by setting up the provincial RSPs and creating the network of these in the form of RSPN or Rural Support Programs Network.
The purpose of describing this brief history is to draw attention to the context of Gilgit-Baltistan with the establishment of department of development studies which could benefit from both student-led and faculty research on the causes and consequences of this unprecedented transformation in the region. Within this backdrop there are many private international and national development organizations working in Gilgit-Baltistan around social, and economic development arenas. Hence there is an existing market demand for well-rounded, skills-oriented professionals to work for them. This degree will not only be attractive with measurable skills in the candidates’ repertoire of learning but it will be equally valid in the public sector as the government of Pakistan is likely to invest hugely in northern regions in the coming years. The investments from China in the shape of CPEC will add further opportunities both in the private sector as well as in the public sectors.
- Provide top-notch quality education in the field of development studies by leveraging the unique social and political conditions of Gilgit Baltistan.
- Apply an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of international development theory and practice- integrate understandings of market, state and civil society, and grasp how they are deployed in development theory and practice
- Develop and inculcate transferable skills in report writing, proposal development and impact assessment of social and economic development programs
- BS-Development Studies (4 Years )
- MSc- Development Studies (2 years)