Government College University has a legacy of one and a half centuries of educational excellence. Under the supervision of renowned vice-chancellors and perceptive administrators, it has maintained its name on the list of the most prestigious institutes of Pakistan.

Although this whole university is an esteemed educational institution, certain departments are more reputable than others. The Political Science department is one of those.

If you know a person who has an interest in political science, you also get to know about their desire to study the subject from GCU’s department. Well, is it the legacy and countless years of education that make it this famous? To some extent, yes. But students have a different point of view. They give the credit of its fame to some different factors. Also, they have a lot to tell about this department that we can never observe from outside. Here is all about how being a student of this department looks like and what are the reasons behind its big name.

Political Science department and its students

No doubt, when we see a department thriving, the credit goes to its faculty and administration. But it is not always like this. Talking about GCU’s political science department, its students have a huge role in giving it a big name.

It is very difficult to get admission to this department. Hundreds and thousands of people from all over the country apply and appear in its entrance test. Only a few (less than 50) who clear the test get a chance to become a part of this institute. So, the students who come here already have a good insight into the political issues, current affairs, and knowledge of the social dynamics.

Moreover, many graduates of this department are now CSS or PMS officers, and many are in other notable positions in the country. This particularly adds to its fame and the reason why students desire to be a part of it.

‘Students come through a competitive exam and that is why this department is different from other universities Pol. Science departments,’ Haider Butt, a recent graduate, and renowned political activist, said when asked about what makes this department different from others.

A place of healthy discourse

Another thing that is unique about GCU, particularly its political science department, is a healthy political discourse. It is very rare in Pakistan and no matter what a university claims, it does not give space to people to have a different and independent ideology that is not followed by the mainstream. GCU is one of the rarest places in this country where such debates happen and different ideas are discussed. However, it does not give its students the complete autonomy that it should but it is better than many others.

Butt while talking on it said, ‘the classroom environment is very tolerant. We have debates outside of the class, too and that is very productive. We face a battle of ideas here and that is what helps us groom our knowledge and thinking capabilities.’

Another student from the last year of her bachelor said, ‘to study subjects like political science, we need to have healthy discussions where people having different beliefs and ideas participate. In GCU, we get this environment in our classrooms, cafes, lawns, and libraries.’

However, the changing policies are now trying to stop such debates and discourage students to participate in such discussions and political activities. ‘Students who are more active in such discussions and healthy student politics are now being victimized by faculty and administrative staff but this tradition of learning and critical thinking in GCU cannot be stopped very easily,’ said Haider Butt while he was talking about the challenges he faced when he raised his voice for student rights.

Faculty of the department

The faculty of the department has now become a controversial point to discuss. Many lecturers who were famous among students, used to encourage political debates, and participate in different study circles have been expelled by the department. Ahmad Hayat and Zaigham Abbas are the two of these names.

Both of them are still remembered by the students and they want to have them back. ‘Ahmad Hayat was very lenient with students. He was always well prepared for his lectures and was a learned person. Instead of focusing on students’ moral policing and discipline, he focused on engaging us with different ideas,’ said Butt.

While talking about Zaigham Abbas, a current student of the department said, ‘we used to have very productive lectures with him. His teaching method was really amazing and we could not help but participate in the discussion on the topics he taught. He triggered us to think critically on every simple and complicated idea.’

However, the current staff is also composed of learned lecturers and professors but none of them is as famous among students as the few previous ones. Other names among them are Usman Siddiqui and Fouzia Ghani.

Political science department and political activism

Usually, you are encouraged to practice what you learn. Political science is an amazing field which if practiced correctly can bring constructive changes that are required in society. It is so ironic that the department of political science does not encourage its students to be active politically. The enlightened ones are still pursuing their activism despite resistance from their institute. They are also the reason why this department is considered such an excellent learning place for students.

GCU’s Political Science department has become a place where students are made to learn new political ideas, think on them and discuss them but when they start implementing them, they are demoralized and victimized in different ways. In some cases, they are expelled.

A healthy environment where students can choose to have an independent ideology and to pursue it (until it is not harming others’ lives) is necessary for learning. It is the essence of a democratic system and a place that was established for this purpose.

Well, this department of GCU is fighting the battles of freedom and policing. Perhaps, this discourse is what makes it so different a place where students and teachers are enlightened enough to question the system.

However, the department is now offering all the degree programs that include bachelor, master, Ph.D., and diplomas in Political Science. You can check out its website for more details related to admissions.

Author

Ayesha Areej is a staff writer at The Academia Magazine

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