Current Courses

Fall 2016

SDP 101: Development and Social Change (AHSS Requirement)

The purpose of this course is to answer key questions about development and social change by introducing students to the history, theory, and the contemporary practice of development. The concept of ‘development’ will be defined within the broader field of social sciences. The implications of development initiatives on poverty, gender, health, education, and disaster preparedness will be critically examined from an inter-disciplinary perspective. Our approach to this course will be critical humanist and interpretivist. We will be shifting the analytic focus from instrumental outcomes of development policies to the meanings, implications, and consequences they have, as expressions of societal beliefs and values.

SDP 203: Social Theory (SDP Major)

This course introduces students to foundational concepts and theories in the social sciences. Starting with Enlightenment thinking and the emergence of positivism and empiricism, this course tackles this major transition in the way social order is conceptualized and theorized. Students will be exposed to key social theorists, including Marx, Weber, Durkheim, as well as some of their legacies. Students will tackle different levels of analysis, understand structural forces and societal dynamics, and engage in social interaction analysis from a social-psychology perspective in contrast to the grand theory tradition.

DEV 101: Introduction to Human Geography and Development

This course introduces students to human geography as one approach to the study of the interdisciplinary field of development. Students will learn key concepts in human geography (e.g., place, space, scale, landscape, territory) as methodological tools for the study of the complex, contradictory and conflict ridden political, economic, cultural and human-environmental interconnections and interdependencies (processes, flows, patterns) and how they change over space and time. The course thus aims to engender a critical geographical perspective on the past, present and future development of the social world. Thematically, we will focus on such topics as: nature-society relations; population, resources and the environment; migration; urban geography; production, consumption and exchange; inequalities and exclusions; and geopolitics.

ANT 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

This course is an introduction to social and cultural anthropology. Anthropology is the study of human beings in a cultural context. The course exposes students to the intricacies of culture upon which modern developmental practices are overlaid. For instance, how do gift-exchange practices of local communities help us understand the politics of international aid? How do rituals of magic explain the commodity fetishism of capitalism? How does tribal social organization overlap with the modern nation? Addressing questions like these would provoke students to critically think of culture as a significant force in the study of social development. Students will be exposed to the theories of culture, reciprocity and gift-exchange, marriages and kinship, organization of political systems, social inequality and hierarchies, rituals and religion, and nature and culture. 

ECON 101: Principles of Microeconomics

This is an introductory course that teaches the fundamentals of microeconomics. The course introduces the concept of supply and demand that supposedly determine an equilibrium in a market economy. It studies consumer behavior and analyze how consumers make choices. We also study firms and their behavior in the market, particularly how they take decisions to optimize their output under different market structures.

POLI 101: Conflict and Cooperation in World Politics

Why study International Relations? What are International Relations? How do we study International Relations? In this introductory course we will attempt to answer these questions by using evidence and conceptual tools provided by disciplines such as history, political science, and political economy. In this journey students will be introduced to key concepts and historical approaches in International Studies, tracing the patterns of conflict and cooperation between nations, states and social groups in the world, concentrating on the last half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first. We examine important problems in the contemporary world from the perspectives of different social sciences, focusing particularly on conflict, cooperation, culture, and human rights.

SOC 201: Socialization and Cultural Identities

The objectives of this course are to understand how shared cultural frames of reference produce collective consciousness, to allow students to develop their capacity for reflexive introspection, and to identify the processes that contributed to making them “who they are.” This course explores the processes by which people are socialized: that is the way they learn and integrate the cultural rules and norms of their social, political and economic environment. In the first half of the course, key postulates of social psychology will be presented and debated, drawing from the work of Freud, Piaget, and Kohlberg. The course seeks to bring together students’ subjective experiences and the broader processes of cultural production and reproduction, informed by modern theoretical frameworks.

SOC 202: Gender and Sexuality in Asia

This course examines gender, sex and sexuality in contemporary Asia. We consider the ways in which people perform gender in everyday interactions and the diversity of femininities, masculinities and sexualities created out of those interactions. Drawing on a range of feminist scholarship and other literature, case studies, reports, NGO material, and media, we explore gender relations in the region through transnational, intersectional perspectives. The course addresses social relations of gender (material practices and institutions), and gender as discourse – the politics of representation. Activism and social change are key themes addressed in this course.

PHIL 201: Philosophy in the Anthropocene

Whether we understand it as a new geological epoch and/or as part of a conceptual framework, a new discursive formation, so to speak, evolving in response to real crises in the present, the Anthropocene calls upon us to think about many urgent philosophical questions. For instance: what is the hermeneutical task in the face of emerging narratives on the decline of the biosphere; what does it mean to think about historical difference now and the role that nature plays in modern history; how do we determine normative foundations for a new politics and aesthetics; and why is it crucial now to revisit and rejuvenate the critique of modernity? In this course, we will be reading contemporary and historical philosophical texts to learn about ideas that give us the capacity to productively engage these and other pressing questions. Course materials include excerpts drawn from scientific literature, literary journalism, novels, and films.  
Fulfills Hikma 2 elective requirement

LIT 201: Ghalib and Indo-Persian Poetics

This course is an introduction to the Urdu poetry of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) and explores it both as an individual entity as well in the context of the influence of Sabak-e-Hindi, Indo-Persian poetics, on his themes and metaphors. It will focus on intensive reading and analysis of his Urdu ghazals in order to discover patterns of intertextuality in their content and treatment. The course will enhance the Urdu language skills of students and deepen their understanding of ghazal as a genre in general and the complex phenomenon of Ghalib’s poetry in particular. Students will also be introduced to some of the major poets of the Indo-Persian style, thereby providing a window into the meanings and cultural legacies of poetic thought and tradition in South Asia.

ECON 301: Marxian Economics

Marxian Economics is a comprehensive analytical framework to understand the functioning of capitalist economies and their relations with each other. The course aims to develop an understanding of this framework and Marx’s critique of capitalist mode of production by closely reading volume one of Das Kapital. The course aspires to give students necessary theoretical grounding in Marxian Economics to enable them to take more advanced courses. Students will learn that Marxian economics exist as an alternative framework to understand the workings of an economy. The course will particularly focus on value creation and its distribution during the production process. Students will also learn how prices are determined within the Marxian framework and how Marx explains the crisis in capitalist mode of production.

ANT 301: Anthropologies of Possibility

Anthropology examines what it is to be a part of human society. Science fiction, on the other hand, is often dismissed as escapist pulp. But the best science fiction is as descriptive as it is speculative, exploring what it means to be a part of contemporary society by pushing against the boundaries of what society is and what it can be. This course collapses descriptive ethnography and science fictive speculation and borrows from the techniques of speculative design in order to explore how the methods of anthropology can be applied to contemporary problems. Rather than repeating the old dictum that anthropology should be “objective,” this course embraces the notion of a politicized anthropology that must engage with thorny ethical issues in the process of imagining and instigating possible futures.

LIT 301: South Asian Partitions and Literature

This course explores the historical events of 1947 and thereafter through novels and films focusing on various aspects of the continuing saga of rupture and disarray in South Asia. The events of 1947 and the emergence of separate states is discussed as a part of a longer process leading to 1971 and other events across South Asia. This will focus on selected fictions of Manto, Qurratulain Hyder, Attia Hossain, Khushwant Singh, Bapsi Sidhhwa and Bisham Sahini; and selected films. This course would “read” historical events through literary and film narratives.
Course Requirements: Pakistan and Modern South Asia and Jahan-e-Urdu.


ECON 121: Principles of Macroeconomics

This is an introductory course in economics, which focuses on teaching basic concepts required to understand the workings of a market based economy. We will focus on markets and what role they play in modern capitalist economies. The role of the government in managing economies will be emphasized. Particularly how money is created and circulated in society (via banks), how is the interest rate determined; where does inflation come from; how international trade impacts a small-to-medium sized economy like Pakistan. These and other questions will be explored particularly in the context of Pakistani economy.

SOC 121: Family Life in Asia

This course examines family life in the context of ‘Asian’ societies and diasporas through a gendered, intersectional and transnational lens. We will critically reflect on how being a family member affects people’s lives, including our own. While the course is interdisciplinary, it draws primarily on sociological and feminist theories to understand family life and the ways in which gender intersects with race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion, nationality, age, and so on, to shape the experiences of family members. We address the materiality of family life as well as social constructions that represent particular ways of being in a family. Given the history of colonization, neo-colonialism and labor migration in ‘Asia’, the effect of migration on family life is another important theme in this course.

ANT 221: Catastrophe and Culture

This course examines relationships among historical, contemporary, and future instances of disaster and human thought and activity. Taking a purposefully interdisciplinary approach to the complex issues surrounding disaster, recovery, relief, and subsequent development aid, the course considers the role of culture, religion, art and technology in allowing communities to depict, recall, understand, narrate, predict, cope with, mitigate or prevent, and even contribute to the impact of disasters.

PE 221: Political economy of agrarian change

This course will cover the political economy of rural change as societies transform from pre-industrial forms to an industrial economy. In addition, it will consider the state of agricultural class relations worldwide in the context of globalization. We will compare the classical transition as described by Karl Marx in Capital to other contemporaneous changes occurring in the world. We shall also consider how these changes differ in countries that elected a socialist path of development as compared to a capitalist one. We shall be particularly interested in examining issues of class differentiation, the various debates on “modes of production,” the relationship between productivity and size of holding, changes in the distribution of assets, the creation of wage labor, gender roles, institutional changes, among others. The course will end by examining whether the classical agrarian question exists in a globalized world.

DEV 221: Education & Development

This course introduces students to major debates on the relationships between globalization, education and processes of development in the global South. Students will acquire the conceptual, theoretical and empirical foundations for a critical analysis of how “global governance of education” shapes national education policy making in the developing world today. This will be done within an historical approach to education for national development, from the period of decolonization, onward. Themes discussed may include: structural adjustment and education; the global knowledge economy, lifelong learning and ICT; trade in education services; education and conflict; popular education; South-South cooperation in education; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and education.

PP 321: Health Policy and Strategies in Pakistan

This course will focus on the overall welfare conditions and health policies of Pakistan in key areas including maternal and newborn health, nutrition, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, disaster reduction and emergency preparedness. This course begins with an overview of the health care system in the public and private sectors and moves on to strategies and human resource elements through which health policy is implemented. Students will benefit from gaining a more in-depth understanding of the structures that regulate the administration of healthcare and the impact of policies and programs in this sector.

ANT 321: Cultures of Greed

This course explores discourses on greed and avarice in historical, literary, and anthropological scholarships. The course raises a key question of our time: how the discourse on excess shapes desire (khuwahish) for money and wealth. By bringing desire at the heart of the discussion of money and capitalism, we open an existential approach to the study of economics. The debate comes closer to the self, to the visceral and corporeal experience, as well as to the human soul. This line of inquiry demands that students read historical accounts on avarice and greed while asking some key questions. Why was excessive desire for money considered a sin or vice in pre-modern times? When did the epistemological break from ‘greed is sin’ to ‘greed is good’ occur? These questions offer students a critical insight into the nature of excessive desire for money, and explains some of the radical causes of human suffering.

ANT 322: Globalization and Social Movements

This course tries to understand globalization as a constituent of our lives and actions from a variety of angles, including the problem of citizenship, the nature of violence in the contemporary world, and the meaning of political change. It questions the prevailing understanding of globalization as flows of people, commodities, and ideas in an increasingly frictionless global public sphere. Instead, we explore the economic and cultural parameters of the globalizing process and how it unfolds as a contested articulation of nation, state, and community. Secondly, the course looks at the ethics of globalization and responses to it in the form of social movements. We will study the emergence and constitution of social movements and what challenges they face. We will consider whether responses to globalization generate a deeper understanding of its working, opportunities, and threats.
Prerequisites: SDP 101, SDP 201 or SDP 202.
Fulfills IPE requirement

HIST 321: Esoteric Methods

This course will build on the trajectory of Hikma 1 to explore the various practitioner methods traditionally used in Oriental and Islamic philosophy and spirituality -to demonstrate to the students the ways of attaining ‘truths’. The course will give the students in-depth knowledge of esoteric practices, as found in medieval texts. The content will be complemented by the dying contemporary knowledge of these sciences – snippets of which have nevertheless been preserved in South Asia. The course will help students understand the plurality of Islamic culture and spirituality.

PHIL 321: Philosophy and the Question of Justice

We are confronted by the question of justice while thinking about many of the crises in the contemporary world. These include environmental degradation, disparities in wealth distribution, the spirit of revenge inherited from history, and the challenge of inculcating virtue in the self. This course serves as an introduction to some of the prominent philosophical articulations of the idea of justice, and its metaphysical and political foundations. Along with theoretical explorations, we will be thinking about issues of applied ethics. What does it mean for there to be justice at the level of inter-personal relations and in terms of practical politics?
Fulfills Hikma 2 elective

Previous Courses

SDP 101: Development and Social Change

 This course will introduce students to key themes in the history, theory, and practice of development. Students will explore the histories of power and powerlessness through which social inequalities have been produced and heightened, the dynamics of different development models and paradigms in the post-World War II era, the theoretical frameworks that have been put forward to analyze these dynamics, and the problems and prospects of putting development ideas into practice in specific areas of concern such as poverty, food insecurity, and environmental degradation.

SDP/CSD 103: Urban Experience

This introductory course in immersive learning is designed to open up students to the context in which they live, research, and work. Through exercises in individual and group-led observation, students will be encouraged to reflect on the diversity of places and communities that surround them, and become both curious and comfortable about dialoguing with them. The course will cater to the necessity for new undergraduates to obtain an in-depth understanding of the built and lived landscape, in the rapidly changing urban and rural landscapes of Pakistan. It will involve field trips to designated areas of Karachi and its surrounding countryside, complemented by theoretical and methodological discussions pertaining to the dynamics of urbanization, field research, and Karachi.

SDP 111: History of Economic Thought

This course explores the evolution of key ideas within economic thought and analyzes how these ideas led to different ways of theorizing in economics. We will begin by examining the theories and methodologies presented by two of the greatest thinkers in classical political economy: Adam Smith and David Ricardo. This will be aided by understanding the influence of rational subjectivism and utilitarianism on economic thought. The final part of the course will examine the critique of political economy offered by Karl Marx. The course will rely on textbook readings and notes prepared by the instructor.

SDP 102: Ethics and Methods of Research

Combining theory and hands-on experience, this course will expose students to key approaches in research design and methodologies. They will learn and practice a variety of qualitative and quantitative techniques, including observation, interviews, focus groups, surveys, and archival research. Alongside, they will study and debate the ethical complexities of conducting fieldwork and implementing research and development projects in underprivileged communities.

SDP 112: Catastrophe and Culture

How do people, communities, and cultures respond to calamities? Do disasters represent key moments in the development of societies? This course will explore the effects of catastrophic events on human thought and activity and interrogate how societies use art, politics, religion and technology to depict, recall, understand, narrate, predict, cope with, mitigate, prevent, or even contribute to the impact of disasters.

SDP 114: World Religions

The development of religious ideas integral to the world’s predominant religions today is a process that has unfolded for millennia. The concepts of angels, demons, and that of monotheism itself are recurring themes in the history of religions that can be found in ancient Indic as well as Zoroastrian religious texts. World Religions will orient students coming to Habib with an understanding of the world’s various classical religious traditions, with a special emphasis on regional religions. The course will be taught with a scientific method applied to the early development of religious ideas since the last minor ice age (12,000-10,000 BC), with the beginning of fire and then nature worship as its starting point, as reflected in the veneration of fire by Indic and Zoroastrian traditions, and then move to the study of monotheism under the Abrahamic faiths.

SDP 116: Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict

Rarely a day goes by without some report of ethnic conflict somewhere in the world. In fact, by some accounts ethnic conflict is the most serious problem confronting us today. In this course, students will attempt to understand ethnic conflict, and explore creative ways in which it might be addressed. An understanding of ethnic conflict necessitates that we acquaint ourselves with some basic terms and concepts, especially the central concept of “ethnicity.”  Therefore, we will first study the definition of ethnicity and other major terms. Then we will examine a specific case of ethnic conflict in Rwanda and pay special attention to the case of Karachi as a multiethnic city.  Next, we will turn to theories of ethnic tension and conflict and will examine the international dimensions of ethnic conflict. Finally, we will turn to ways in which ethnic conflict can be managed and resolved.

SDP 118: Reading Marx with Dickens

This course will focus on the historical epoch — the industrial revolution — that shaped the writings of Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. Where Marx uses the ideas of class consciousness, exploitation, and social injustice to rally the working class, Dickens’s novels quite movingly depict the subjective experiences of working individuals – particularly children and young adults. Students will read a selection of Marx’s writing together with Hard Times, Great Expectations, and A Tale of Two Cities, exploring how social theory and literature can reinforce each other in illuminating processes of historical change.

SDP/MATH 151: Mathematics for Social Sciences

Mathematics for Social Sciences’ is a course for non-science majors at Habib University that will introduce students to the various techniques of quantitative analysis used within the Humanities and Social Sciences. The four main topics that will be covered will be symbolic logic, calculus, statistics and probability, financial math, to best equip students with analytical methods for use both in the classroom and the field. Coursework will be structured around the practical application of mathematics to real-life situations.

SDP 181: Religious Traditions of South Asia

This course aims at understanding the religious diversity of South Asia. South Asia is the original home of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism along with many other tribal and local religious traditions. Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism originated elsewhere, but moved to South Asia and have long been part of its history, adding to its religious and cultural diversity. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism compose the major contents of this course. Students will explore the above mentioned major religious traditions of South Asia in their historical and political contexts. This course is designed to present a basic understanding of rich and complex diversity of religious traditions of the region, hence students will also explore the diversity present within any individual religious tradition studied. Students will discover the histories, texts, doctrines, rituals and cultural expressions of the religious traditions cited above. Whereas we shall be discussing fluidity of religious identities in pre-colonial India throughout our coursework, it will conclude by discussing the hardening of communal identities towards the end of the colonial era.

SDP 191: Introduction to Philosophy

This course is a historical introduction to philosophy. Areas to be covered include: methods of philosophical inquiry (Socratic dialectic, formal and informal logic, critical thinking, argument construction and evaluation), Ontology, Epistemology, Ethics, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, and Philosophy of Technology. Original text selections drawn from the works of various important philosophers, including, Plato, Aristotle, Al Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Bajja, Descartes, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, Popper, Derrida, and others.

SDP 241: Perspectives in Social and Cultural Anthropology

This course is an introduction to social and cultural anthropology. Anthropology is the study of human beings in a cultural context. The course exposes students to the intricacies of culture upon which modern developmental practices are overlaid and superimposed. For instance, how do gift-exchange practices of local communities help us understand the politics of international aid? How do rituals of magic explain the commodity fetishism of capitalism? How does tribal social organization overlap with the modern nation? Addressing questions like these would provoke students to critically think of culture as a significant force in the study of social development. Students will be exposed to the theories of culture, reciprocity and gift-exchange, marriages and kinship, organization of political systems, social inequality and hierarchies, and rituals and religion.

SDP 138: Mega-Projects and the State

Large-scale infrastructure development projects such as dams, highways, airports, mass transit, and urban redevelopment have captured the public imagination, defined urban design and form, and acted as signposts of progress since the beginnings of modernity. From Napoleon III’s Paris to Ayub Khan’s Islamabad and contemporary city-states of Dubai, Singapore, and Hong Kong, state sponsorship of large-scale structures has shaped popular understanding, expectations, and experience of what it means to be a modern citizen. However, megaprojects also tend to damage the lives of the very citizens they claim to improve by disrupting the rhythms of urban life, displacing entire populations, dispossessing people of their land, and polarizing nations and communities. As a result, debates over the desirability and sustainability of megaprojects have taken centre stage in contemporary national and international public sphere.

The purpose of this course is to critically examine the history, politics, ethics, and aesthetics of public investment in megaprojects. Why do governments all over the world undertake such highly ambitious and disruptive projects? How do complex physical and social engineering schemes come to occupy a central place in the imagination of political leaders, policymakers, and ordinary people? In what ways do megaprojects reorganize urban space and reconstitute social relations between people from different social classes? What kinds of hopes do they excite among the local people and what fears and anxieties do they generate? We will reflect on these questions by considering megaprojects as sites of struggle in multiple dimensions: between contrasting visions of a good life; different understandings of place and identity; and competing interests of coalitions and networks of actors at local, national, and global levels. While we will be reading a diverse body of writings from anthropology, political economy, management sciences, journalism, and literature, most of our examples and case studies will be drawn from ethnographic accounts that highlight the stories, experiences, and perceptions of people who are the intended beneficiaries of megaprojects.

SDP 148: Kabhi Paani Kabhi Pyaas – Water in Human Society

Water is life. Pre-Socratic monists saw water as the originating principle, the single material substance from which all others derived. Sanskrit texts classify it as one of the Panchamahabhuta, or five great elements, and the Qur’an states that every living thing was made from water (21:30). Philosophy and religion have always understood the importance of water, and in the face of border struggles over water resources, political debates over water privatization, and environmental crises wrought by global climate change can we doubt our complete dependence upon this substance? This course will draw texts from anthropology, environmental and development studies, social history, political and ethical debates, and the natural sciences to explore water-scarce and resource-rich societies alike, and to probe the socio-cultural significance of water around the world.

SDP 156: Migration and Modernity

This courses covers major issues surrounding migration in modern times. It acknowledges the legacies of imperialism, colonization and decolonization as background context informing power relations between mobile and sedentary population groups around the world, and the conditions afforded by regional, continental and global political economies as structural forces determinant in influencing migration flows and migratory experiences. It looks at the effects of migration on receiving and sending countries, as well as the political and legal frameworks that regulate exit, entry, residence, labour conditions, wages, remittance flows, etc. This course is also concerned with culture and processes of cultural transition such as adaptation, acculturation, assimilation, integration, appropriation, etc., as well as pervasive dynamics of “Othering.” By identifying various kinds of migration (forced displacement, asylum, economic and/or political migration, temporary or cyclical migration, legal/illegal, among others), important distinctions are made surrounding forms of motivation, privilege or disadvantages, lifestyle, agency, formal and symbolic citizenship, transience vs. permanence, etc. Key questions raised in this course will revolve around two main axes: 1) Power, inequalities and exploitation; and 2) nationalism and transnationalism, and their identity correlates (including issues of belonging and community formation and transformation).

SDP 202: Development & the Global Economy

Development is inextricable from the histories and processes of economic growth. In this course, students will examine the political economy of development as well as the economic challenges faced by countries in the global north and south. It will cover topics such as agriculture and the world market, globalization and trade, and international finance, while exposing students to the role of states, non-governmental organizations, multilateral aid agencies, philanthropic foundations, corporations, and communities in charting the development trajectories of different regions.

SDP 292: Tragic Philosophy

This course explores the idea of the tragic, as manifested in seminal works of literature and drama, and in the writings of various significant figures in the history of philosophy. Concurrently, we are going to talk about the tragic as a fundamental feature of human life and experience, and one that requires acknowledgement if we are going to come to terms with processes of ironic self-destructiveness underway in politics, society, community, culture, economics, and in the often fraught relationship between technological civilization and the natural environment.