Closing Ceremony of 2nd International Conference on Strengthening Teaching & Research Capacity: Collaborative Partnership in Social Sciences

Fatima Jinnah Women University hosted and organized a conference on Strengthening Teaching & Research Capacity: Collaborative Partnership in Social Sciences. The closing ceremony of the conference began with acknowledgement note of Conference Patron Dr. Saima Hamid (Vice Chancellor FJWU) by thanking our partner universities of the US-Pakistan University Partnerships Grants Program for their stewardship of our conference and for the collaborative support they have provided to successfully complete the activities of the project.

The conference is of great significance and truly represents the core objective of US-Pak Univeristy Partnerships Grants Program. USEFP's University-Partnership Grants Program is playing a pivotal role in increasing the pace of research culture in Pakistan and facilitating researchers to focus on its genuine impact which may be helpful for society as a whole.  We are hoping that FJWU will produce future leaders by creating an environment where the cycle of training new faculty will be continued through cascading to other universities, hence it will play a potentially pivotal role in elevating the competence of teaching across the institutions of higher learning in Pakistan.

Conference Chief Organizer and Project PI, Dr Aneela Maqsood commented- while doing the project over the past few months with partner universities, I believe that together we can build stronger connections to maximize our existing resources and to collaborate and learn from each other competencies. The conference aimed to strengthen research partnerships in social sciences by highlighting challenges and solutions in advancing research in Social Sciences. Through the scholarly debate stimulated during the conference, we are fostering the application of best practices in pedagogic teaching and research. Through project activities and the activity like international conference, we are aiming to provide opportunities of collaboration nationally and globally to expand research in Higher Education Institutions.

The conference theme “Teaching & Research Pedagogy for Impactful Higher Education Institutions” was adequately addressed by number of subthemes. On the day one, 06 key note speeches were held and 07 key note speeches were held on the second day of the conference. One key note session will be held today. On the second day of the conference, total of 18 parallel sessions and 1 virtual session on conference themes were held with total number of 133 abstracts received and presented. More than 375 people attended the conference from different cities of Pakistan representing various universities, research institutes and organizations.

On the first day of the conference, we started with a key note session by Prof. Dr. Michale Hirsch, Dean College of Arts and Social Sciences Huston-Tillitson University, USA. He discussed how undergraduate students can be meaningfully engaged in research activities through innovative teaching methodology.  On the first day of the conference, a Plenary Keynote Session on theme “Curriculum Evaluation in Higher Education Challenges, Barriers, and Opportunities” was held. Three key note speeches were delivered in the session. The session highlighted the need to have a regulatory body to evaluate and examine the curriculum on periodic basis. The session highlighted the need to make the curriculum responsive to the needs of industry and to engage students in activities aiming to collaborate with industry. The session put forth the idea that HEC should regularly evaluate the existing curriculum and PhD students must be given opportunities of teaching assistantship. The session thoroughly discussed how we need to reconceptualise the curriculum to meet the needs of digital future along with addressing the indigenous challenges and opportunities.

 A Panel Discussion was held on first day of the conference on a timely issue of interest aligned with the main spirit of the conference that is building collaborations. The sessions titled “Cross-Border Research Partnerships in Social Science: Opportunities, Barriers and Solutions” discussed the various examples of successful project models as a result of networking across the globe. 

The conference hosted two symposiums. The first symposium representing the empirical contribution of University of Sargodha was on Mental Health Issue: Assessment, Prevention, and Promotion in Higher Education Institutions. The session started with a keynote on Mental and Occupational Health at Higher Education Institutes. In the symposium, eight papers around the theme were presented. The scholarly work addressed mental health issues of students and teachers. The session highlighted the need to establish mental health support and mentoring networks in academic institutes.

The second symposium representing the scholarly work of National Institute of Psychology, Quaid-i-Azam University addressed the “implications of Educational Psychology in Higher Education. The session started with keynote followed by eight empirical papers presented with a focus on highlighting students’ classroom engagement and the role of motivation in academic performance. The session addressed the importance of conflict resolution and emotional management in maintaining the wellbeing of young minds.

On closing ceremony, we had a key note speech of Dr. Muhammad Imran (Senior Lecturer, Federation University Australia) on an important perspective of publications in high impact factor journals. On behalf of the conference team, Dr Aneela Maqsood (Chief Organizer) extend sincere thanks to conference speakers, focal persons and ambassadors of participant universities to make this as lively and interactive as you did. With acknowledgement to our sponsor- United States Government, we are grateful to our contributors from across different cities of Pakistan and across the globe including United States, United Kingdom, Australia, & Malaysia to make this a successful one.

This conference has been an excellent example of how our minds have been assailed by a torrent of ideas, information, statistics, interpretations and visions. We probably have to really put an effort in order to sift through them all and consolidate our own personal perspectives. There is, indeed, plenty to reflect upon and, if this in any way enhances our individual and collective contributions to Strengthening Teaching & Research Capacity in Pakistani Universities through Collaborative Partnerships in Social Sciences, then the conference can truly be declared a success. The empirical papers presented in the conference and the scholarly debate on issues of national priorities for the improvement of higher education were so insightful for going a step forward for implementation in educational settings. We are hoping that the conference provided opportunities of national and international alliance for developing research consortium and to extend the research partnerships in coming time.