Imagine a world without writers, artists, creators, social scientists, and musicians. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? The value of studying the humanities is unquestionable; it teaches you to think critically, write thoughtfully, and speak clearly. It inspires you to think big and gives you the ability to question and challenge concepts and ideologies. It equips you with tools to understand human behavior, empathize, connect with people, and most importantly, learn perspective-taking.

LUMS glory, backstory

Back in college, I felt pressured to pursue an economics major, even though I didn’t have the aptitude for it. I then took a leap of faith and switched to a social science major at the end of my sophomore year. It was the best decision I made; it was my true calling. I am a better journalist today because of it. 

According to LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences), encouraging a more holistic perspective on education can foster a diverse, adaptable, and innovative workforce while empowering students to pursue their true passions. Project Oxygen surprised many by concluding that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) expertise comes in last among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees.

LUMS Campus. Photo credits: LUMS

About MGSHSS

Founded in 2012, the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences (MGHSS) aims to nurture individuals to be intellectually engaged, think deeply and creatively. It encourages students to be socially responsible members of society that aspire to change the world through inspirational leadership and transformative community participation.

2023, Lahore: Softboard at Deans and Provost Office, LUMS. Photo credits: Maheen Mustafa

Some of these core traits and values I have carried forward with me and have instilled in my evolutionary journey at MTG. Their outstanding curriculum has made MGSHSS the leading humanities program in Pakistan, with many local universities using it as a blueprint and framework in their colleges. The program has earned a commendable global reputation with graduates working in renowned organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, The Citizens Foundation, Yale, Pfizer to name a few.

November 2023, LUMS, Lahore. Maheen Mustafa with Ali Khan. Photo credits: MTG

Ali Khan interview

Ali Khan taught me several social sciences courses at LUMS. His compelling yet calm teaching style was conducive to learning, and he always encouraged his students to ask questions. He is now the Dean at Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School for Humanities and Social Sciences and associate professor at LUMS. He has an MPhil and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in England. I reconnected with him in November 2023 and had an inspiring and thought-provoking conversation on the importance of a humanities degree. Here, he makes a case for social sciences. 

Photo credits: LUMS

In your opinion, what is the value add of social sciences and humanities degree to a student?

For me…I can see the fraying of societies worldwide and firmly believe that a greater understanding of humanities and social sciences lies at the foundation of a healthy community. Everything else follows from there. We must build inclusive, respectful societies that see the benefits of our shared humanity.

What are the critical needs and growth areas in the SS department where you feel more work needs to be done?

We need to move towards greater interdisciplinarity – working with our colleagues in science, for example. We need more in digital humanities and at the frontier between AI and Humanities. I think some of the most exciting work will happen here.

Why did you choose to teach humanities? What drove you?

I have a PhD in anthropology, so I had to teach in that area!

When I graduated in 2007, we had very few faculty members in social sciences. Have the numbers changed? Please elaborate on where it is today.

We have grown rapidly… almost at 60 PhDs – so we have doubled in size.

Author’s concluding note: I gleam with pride to see the phenomenal growth and evolution of the institution I once studied in — not just in terms of faculty but with the multitude of disciplines that are being taught within the social sciences space.

Maheen Mustafa is the founder of Maheen The Globe (MTG) a Seattle-based media outlet and production house covering global stories and perspectives. She covers beats social impact, wellness, business, culture, climate and race. Her email is [email protected], and Twitter handle @MaheenM_.