A Glance Through the Rearview Mirror – Course Reviews #2

World Since 1453 with Dr. Ali Raza

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“If World Since 1453 were to be a musical performance, it would be a string quartet. Ali Raza would start it off with a slow melancholic symphony, slowly rising into a haunting spectre with sharp bow movements grating the strings of the violin, the world in a frenzy, and ending with a low, virtuosic cadence. The audience would be awestruck, and horrified, and saddened and angered, not at the music but at the things the music was making them see. But in the end, they’d all applaud, and give the musician an ovation — that’s exactly what ended up happening in the SS Auditorium at the academic block. All of that came true, even the ovation.

The horror, the poignancy, and the enlightenment I got exposed to in a world since 1453 can only be described in simplistic statements; primarily due to the shortcoming of language itself, but also because this course can only be drawn out in experiential terms. History, one imagines, is a story of chronology. We, however, found out it could be so much more than that. It could be a story of progress, or it could be cyclical. It could be a story of revolutions, or a story of discoveries. Finding out the angelic European was not so angelic after all. Finding, in fact, that humans can hardly ever be angelic, only human. Finding that world history was more than a mere afterthought of Europe’s glory, and that humans in history have done grotesque things because they simply didn’t ask the question, why.

Ali Raza almost always said that he hated the textbook assigned to us for that course. And that’s precisely because there is a danger of telling only one story. So instead, he told us the story of the world through Charles Dickens’ lengthy prose and graphic novels, like Maus, and through the narratives of runaway slaves and the writings of wacky ideologies. He’d wave his hands in the air and slam the classroom desk because his passion was simply spilling over. The cadence at the end of the performance was thus, a monologue about how history is studied not to learn from our past mistakes, but to see how we can change the world in the future.”

-Nayyab Naveed, Class of 2021

 

Introduction To Sociology with Dr. Laila Bushra

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“It would not be an overstatement to say that Dr. Laila Bushra is one of the most competent instructors at LUMS, and the proof of this statement lies in her ability to comprehensively teach introductory level courses — despite being overqualified for them. She is, and there is no other way to say this, the coolest instructor you will have the fortune to take a course with during your four years at LUMS.

In the very first session, she categorically lays down some rigid rules for students to follow (which include zero tolerance for using cellphones during lectures). Though the prospect of not being able to check your notification bar for two straight hours might seem daunting at first, rest assured that if you are even slightly interested in sociology (and you should be if you are opting to take this course), Laila Bushra’s volcanic lectures will be so engrossing that the idea of using your phone in between will seem absurd.

The workload is quite manageable. The lectures are CP friendly and don’t require that you do the readings beforehand though it is highly advised that you do them anyway to avoid 11 hour cramming before the quizzes. The quizzes are fairly straight-forward but reading-intensive, while the final exam will demand the use of critical thinking in order to apply sociological theories to various scenarios. Though she has a strict set of rules that demand adherence, Laila Bushra’s sociology course is a must-take if you value insightful learning which is made even more interesting by her use of anecdotes and examples, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes alarmingly dark.”

-Shehreen Umair, Class of 2021

 

Politics of Education by Dr. Mariam Chughtai

Image source: Scholastic.com

“Dr. Mariam Chughtai’s Politics of Education course is inarguably the most unique and refreshing course I have had the pleasure of attending in my three years at LUMS. Not only was the class environment comfortable enough to discuss some controversial topics, Dr. Chughtai’s teaching practices proved that the conventional classroom structure does not necessarily have to be followed to conduct an amazing class. Despite having no group project component, the bonds that were created within the classroom were unlike any other I’ve experienced, and everyone was encouraged to share some very personal experiences by the end! The instructor could easily have served as one of the links (read spies) that share information with the administration but actually managed to create a space where opinions were respected (no matter how absurd) and confidentiality was preserved. The course content was not bound to a certain theme; we were asked to read Orwell’s 1984 and watch Ratatouille or Les Misérables, ensuring that not a single session became boring. This therapy session cum class not only taught me how to treat other, really different opinions with understanding and respect — whether it was Freire saying it or Heifetz or Dr. Chughtai herself — but it also forced me to reflect on things I would never think about on my own, constantly offering me new perspectives with every week of sessions. In the end, the only downside of the class seemed to be that the class lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes, when everyone would have preferred it go on for the full 1 hour 50 minutes, an opinion which speaks for itself!”

-Alina Noor Pasha, Class of 2019

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