The NUMS Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences held a virtual open day on August 16th, 2021 to introduce its undergraduate degree program titled “BS-Social Science of Health”. It was a one hour session held via ZOOM in which current faculty and students along with prospective students were in attendance. The Dean Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Prof.Dr. Azam Chaudhary took the audience to a journey from the conceptualization of the curriculum to the launch of degree and first enrolment in February 2019 to the experience of having four batches currently. He highlighted the importance of social sciences, especially in medical universities and advocated for a multidisciplinary lens for a holistic understanding of health. He highlighted the key social sciences disciplines and their unique approach to study health. Mentioning some of the selected courses from each discipline in the curriculum, he introduced the respective faculty members also along with their academic and research expertise.
In the second half of the session, the faculty and students shared their reflections about the experience with BS-Social Science of Health. The faculty discussed how during the pandemic, the importance of having the lens of social sciences to explore the behavior, attitudes and beliefs of society, is renewed. A student shared how initially they had little idea about the degree program but with each passing semester, they are gaining insight into the Pakistani healthcare system, the biomedical hegemony, the political economy of health and the gendered aspects of health access. The students shared their experience of field work and also as part of door to door survey data collection for primary healthcare needs assessment. With a mix of quantitative and qualitative research skills, the students felt that these field visits gave them with a platform to apply the classroom theories into community. This will help them with conceptualizing research projects related to health. The students also appreciated the numerous external guest speakers like health care professionals, religious scholars or social workers who shared their work and experience in the seminars. Some of the students who had already networked with social service sector or health organizations in designing and execution of projects related to health, shared how they also learnt management, leadership and effective communication along with having a command over the academic knowledge.
A student from NUMS Department of Public Health, who was joining online asked from the Dean, the difference between the two undergraduate degrees of public health and social science of health. Dean SSH briefly explained the broad nature of the BS-SSH curriculum that includes health economics, medical anthropology, biomedicine and geography of health along with a strong emphasis on field work research and community linkage.
A video depicting the campus life, diverse academic and extra-curricular activities, recreational trips and student testimonials was also shown during the session. This highlighted the past 2 years of the NUMS Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. In the end, the audience was informed about the admission and registration process.