The 2015 Lahore and Oxford Student Exchange
Hilary Term 2015 saw the first exchange between CSASP, Oxford University and Lahore School of Economics in Pakistan. Under the supervision of Professor Matthew McCartney, Director of the Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme, four scholars namely Maryiam Haroon, Nida Jamil, Rabia Arif and Zunia Saif Tirmazee who are current PhD candidates in the Lahore School of Economics visited Oxford University for a month as Recognised Students. This program was funded fifty percent by CSASP, Oxford University and fifty percent by LSE. The purpose of the program is to familiarise PhD scholars with the academic environment of one of the top universities of the world and to give them the opportunity to develop their research outside of their usual academic environment. Students under this program are invited to attend lectures and seminars as enrolled students of the university. Moreover they are able to gain research guidance on their PhD proposal to refine their research ideas. For this purpose they were provided access to all research facilities including libraries and internet services that the university offers to its regular students.
During their stay at Oxford Nida, Maryiam, Rabia and Zunia attended lectures in their fields of interest including Advanced Microeconomics, Advanced Macroeconomics, Applied Microeconomics, Industrial Organisation, Foundations of Development, Economic History and Public Policy. The scholars were exposed to new avenues of research and sophisticated econometric techniques through attending seminars including Gorman Student Research Workshops in Economics, Postdoctoral & DPhil Research Workshops, International Trade seminars, CSAE Lunchtime Seminars, Applied Microeconomics Seminars, CSAE Research Workshops and Economic Theory Workshops. Not only did the students attend lectures and seminars in their areas of specialisation but they also got a chance to explore other disciplines including Anthropology and Psychology. This has enabled them to develop an interdisciplinary perspective of economics with other areas of studies.
The students were also admitted to Wolfson College as Visiting Students for the duration of their trip, giving them an insight into the distinctive college lifestyle which is unique to so few universities in the country.
Besides academics, the students got a chance to experience the exquisite architectural heritage of Oxford, the delectable British cuisine and the happening social life which they will cherish.
This program has helped the students expand their knowledge in their respective areas of interest. It has given them a unique opportunity to establish lasting relationships with faculty members and students at Oxford University thereby laying the foundation for scholars and their hosts to develop long-term institutional relationships and to identify areas of cooperation that can be sustained beyond the program period.
In March, Professor McCartney accompanied three Oxford PhD students from the departments of Geography and Economics to Pakistan for the shorter return leg of the exchange. The students, who spent a week in Lahore, were invited to attend a conference at LSE and were also treated to tours of Lahore and some of its amazing sights. Below, you can read some of the insights that they gained from their visit.
Feedback from all who have been involved with the exchange this year is extremely positive and will hopefully ensure that these trips can become a regular activity.
Rabia, Maryiam, Zunia and Nida were very lucky to receive full funding from LSE to spend one month in Oxford with us as part of the CSASP Recognised Student Programme. If you are registered for a PhD at a university outside of the UK and would benefit from researching at Oxford without registering a degree, then this programme may be what you are looking for. You can be granted a Recognised Student status for a minimum of one term but there are costs involved. Full details of the Programme, fees and the application process can be found in our research webpages.
My name is Claire Baudouin and I am an Economics PhD student. I was interested in visiting Pakistan since I was keen to learn more about a country which is frequently in the news but which is often poorly understood. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone I met and their willingness to teach me about the rich culture of Pakistan. The conference on manufacturing proved very informative and I was especially impressed by the way in which the insights of economists were juxtaposed with those of leaders in industry.
I am first-year PhD student in the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford. I work on issues related to urbanisation, urban poverty and urban policies in developing countries. Most of my recent research work has used Indian data; therefore, I was very interested to learn about ongoing urbanisation research in a similar South Asian country, discover what datasets people were using, and explore potential research opportunities. The trip provided several opportunities for this, through formal meetings and informal discussions with academics, policy-makers and Lahore School graduate students working on urbanisation and urban issues. I have started several conversations and I hope that atleast some of them will translate into future research collaborations, providing me an opportunity to continue the relationship with the Lahore School and with Pakistan.
Moreover, having worked with the Government of Vanuatu as an ODI Fellow, I am also interested in understanding political economy, governance and public policy challenges in different parts of the world. Through presentations on a wide range of issues and through the opportunity to meet policy-makers, the conference provided a unique opportunity to understand Pakistan's policy challenges and opportunities, and I was able to use my previous experience as a bureaucrat to contribute to the discussions.
At a personal level, as a Punjabi, I have grown up hearing and reading stories of Lahore, the generosity of its people, the beauty of its gardens, the grandeur of its architecture and the sumptuousness of its food. The Punjabis say that one who has not seen Lahore has not even been born yet. I'm happy to report that Lahore exceeded even these high expectations, and I eagerly look forward to my next trip there.
For the first time I think I have taken away the 'culture and people' from a trip; not iconic infrastructure like a Coliseum or Parthenon or Acropolis but the vibrance and beauty of a people. The strong cultural contrasts against my home country's norms and society made the trip so enjoyable. It was quite a novel experience for me identifying myself as a West Indian as opposed to someone from Trinidad and Tobago. But with cricket as a religion in Pakistan, it seemed more than warranted. The only link that could be made between myself and Trinidad and Tobago was Brian Lara. And what better way to make such an association than through one of the greatest icons in cricket; a high priest in the cricketing religion if you will. This small example of cultural perceptions and relationships makes me see Lahore and its Lahoris as not a cityscape occupied by Pakistanis but rather a truly unique South Asian ethnoscape. But it was not all contrast and comparison. Given that nearly half of Trinidad and Tobago's population are East Indian in descent, much of the culinary traditions have been assimilated back home and it was nice to see the expression on Lahori faces when they learnt that my homeland has several of the curried dishes and delicacies. The experiences I've had whilst in Lahore makes it easy to see why the people give their landscape character and meaning. The tour of the Old Walled City was perhaps the best example of this where the architecture of man and the architecture of culture blended to create this symbolic part of South Asian history. I can say that because my research entails looking through cultural and ethnographic perspectives is the reason why these social attributes stood out for me, but I think it is because that it was simply that captivating that it was the theme of my trip.