The reason I did not offer you the usual doze of my public writings for the past few months is because I was busy writing a grant proposal to secure funds through the US Department of State (DOS) for a cooperative agreement between an accredited US university and the English department of NUML.
I became aware of this grant opportunity when Dr. Qaisar Abbas, a friend and a mentor, sent me a link to the grant announcement. Dr. Abbas is a wonderful presence on UNT campus and also specializes in grant writing. When I looked at the grant announcement, I was quite hopeful that given a chance UNT could be a strong contestant for the grant.
This million dollar grant was being offered under the DOS “Public Diplomacy Programs for Afghanistan and Pakistan” and the winner institution was required to sign a three year cooperative agreement with the DOS to assist in enhancing the integral capabilities of NUML English department.
Another important stipulation in the announcement, and the one that suited me the best, was that the proposal had to be written in consultation with NUML officials. This meant that the US applicants had to contact people at NUML and then incorporate their suggestions in the proposal itself. This is where my experience in the Pakistan army and my stay at NUML, many years ago, became extremely useful: I knew the institution and was aware of its organizational structure.
Anyway, I am glad to report that the DOS and NUML chose UNT as the best suited partner and as a result, I will be managing this important project for the next three years. Personally I see it as once-in-a-lifetime chance for many reasons: there are not many million dollar grants for humanities; this agreement will enable me to work on the ground in developing curriculum and programs in my native country while also enabling me to learn through the process; and, most importantly, this project will go a long way in building deeper relations between the people of Pakistan and United States.
The partnership focuses on five major areas:
- Faculty development and collaborative research
- Curriculum development mentoring, including introduction to state-of-the-art methodologies
- Research materials, journals, and publications (access agreements)
- Graduate student training and research
- Establishment of a Writing Resource Center
Beginning January 2013, we will start acquiring library resources for NUML and our core faculty members will start developing their summer courses for NUML. In June 2013, we will hold our first four week collaborative training session. UNT faculty will travel to Islamabad to work with their NUML counterparts. We will also start working on developing a Writing resource Center.
In August 2013, UNT will receive the first cohort of visiting NUML scholars. Each one of these scholars will come for two months and will have full access to UNT library resources for their research. While here, these scholars will also give public presentations, attend cultural events, and work with volunteer faculty members in their area of expertise. Over three years, we hope to bring over fifty NUML faculty and graduate students to UNT for research. In the long run, I hope, this exchange will enhance intercultural understanding and, through humanities, help us build a better people-to-people relationship between Pakistan and the United States.