The Aga Khan University (AKU) aims to respond to foreseeable future needs of the countries it serves, doing so through new educational programmes set at the highest standards possible, in teaching, research and/or service. From its earliest days, the University foresaw the indispensability of a liberal education as emanating from the need for capacities to make the myriad adjustments modern life would require, of intellectual, cultural and moral kinds that only a general education can provide. Subsequently, and with a plurality of invaluable contributions on its design and development over some two decades, the inaugural Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Pakistan (FAS) was granted with an approval in 2018 for a launch on Stadium Road campus in Karachi. Against a tradition of learning from global best practice, the Day of Dialogue to discuss “the Future of Leaning” as it pertains to the launch of FAS was held on 2nd and 3rd March, 2020 in Providence, Rhode Island at Brown University, who served as the event’s generous co-host.
With the foundational philosophy, aims and overarching structure of the FAS programme in place, the Day of Dialogue sought to unpack with participants experiences in launching and leading undergraduate arts and sciences education, to draw out lessons learn, and to deliberate on the strategic approaches to programmatic design and delivery that would be contextually relevant and in support of the AKU’s vision, mission, guiding principles and values.
A sample of the key guiding questions steering the Dialogue included:
1.How might FAS fit within the wider, evermore comprehensive university setting?
2. How will we underwrite success in learning and teaching with an interdisciplinary ethos?
3. What constitutes the ‘student life course’? How can we help students navigate their course?
4. What does effective academic governance look like?
Accordingly, the Dialogue convened leadership and scholars from higher education across USA and Canada, but primarily from the rich concentration of renowned liberal arts colleges in New England. Participants held considerable expertise in governance and administration, academic affairs including teaching and learning, and student experience and services. AKU Trustee Dr. Lisa Anderson, AKU alumni and members of the Pakistani diaspora now leading academia in USA, and participation from leaders of AKDN institutions in North America all served as strategic interlocutors with their contextual understanding of AKU and Pakistan. Importantly, the Dialogue featured a panel of Brown students from first years to a recent graduate, who provided insights into the whole student experience and where improvements might be made. In sum, there were over 30 participants representing 17 institutions.
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