Dr Mohammad Tarikul Islam, an expert on local government, sustainable rural development, grassroots political participation, climate diplomacy, and foreign relations of Bangladesh towards South Asia and the UK, is an Associate Professor in the Government and Politics Department at Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and SOAS (University of London).
SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) University of London is a public research university in London, England and a member institution of the Federal University of London. Founded in 1916, SOAS is located in the Bloomsbury area of central London. SOAS University of London is Europe’s leading higher education institution specializing in Asian, African and Near and Middle Eastern studies. With a vast wealth of knowledge and expertise in specialist areas, SOAS is uniquely placed to inform and shape current thinking about our world’s economic, political, cultural, security and religious challenges.
Without any doubt, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic is felt in a wide array of higher education and lockdowns and travel bans have had an instant impact on higher education institutions across the world. Notwithstanding the terrible circumstances, I was inspired to be part of teaching and research in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS.
First of all, I will give an idea of student involvement in multifaceted learning process. Students at SOAS are taught by respected academics engaged in fieldwork and research which influences government policy and the lives of individuals across the globe. SOAS scholars grapple with the pressing issues confronting two-thirds of humankind today: democracy, development, economy, finance, public and corporate policy, human rights, migration, identity, legal systems, poverty, religion, and social change.
Let’s talk briefly about the reasons for appointing visiting scholars at SOAS. A visiting scholar is awarded by the school to an accredited scholar from a university outside the UK, who is known to the recommending department or centre/institute, and who wishes to spend time at the school for a fixed period of 12 months in the first instance. Visiting scholars are expected to be physically present at the school for part or all of their appointment and to play an active role in the intellectual life of the school.
Now I will talk about tenure, privileges and responsibilities of the visiting scholar. The appointment of a visiting scholar to SOAS is for a fixed term, but may be terminated without notice to either party, or renewed for a further fixed term where appropriate. Rare library collections and unique archives of papers, films and photographs at SOAS attract scholars from around the world. However, unlike many other universities, SOAS students also benefit from a time of highly personalized teaching with experts in their field.
Originally established in 1962, the Department of Politics and International Studies has grown into one of the largest Departments at SOAS. Its research and teaching are distinguished by a critical approach to the study of (international) politics of the Global South. A wide range of degree programmes provide students with expert grounding in the disciplines of Politics and International Relations through deep engagement with the political realities of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Even while at home due to the COVID pandemic, I wrote some papers as part of this visiting fellowship and two of my important writings appeared on the SOAS blog. The opportunity to conduct mixed method research in a distance mode allows me to see the research question more broadly and to understand the subtleties of the subject. I really come to appreciate the time and the network of visiting scholars and faculty staff at SOAS. SOAS promises excellence in teaching, learning and research.
I feel proud because I am perhaps one of the rare academicians with a PhD from Bangladesh, affiliated with Oxford, Cambridge and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in various prestigious capacities. The Higher Education Digest magazine proudly acknowledges the regular contribution of this brilliant South Asian scholar.