In view of the mission and vision of the university, the faculty of social sciences strives hard to promote scientific research, offer relevant community service and quality education. The faculty has opened several programs both at undergraduate and post graduate level. It offers Master’s Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies, GIS, Population Studies, Environment and Natural Resources Management, Social Anthropology, Social Work, Gender and Development studies, History, Heritage and Museum Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and in Political Science. It has also four under graduate programs, with recently launched PhD programs in three disciplines.
The fourth annual national conference is organized with the aim of addressing various themes in the Social Sciences. 14 research papers are selected for presentation. Taken as a whole, the papers selected explore a wide range of socio-cultural, political and environmental issues and problems that demand serious attention and urgent intervention. These issues are what we often encounter, experience and observe in our daily life, but failed to discuss about, fathom out precisely and address them with due attention. The presenters should thus be appreciated for their critical observation and attempt to bring into discussion of such critical issues. With new data and theoretical insights, some of the papers investigate the existing policy directions and implementation gaps manifested in such fields as heritage and tourism, gender and women right issues, and traditional versus evolving social welfare system of the country. Still others discuss and bring into light crucial historical themes; the dilemma, challenge and conflicting interests in the management and utilization of natural resources as well as the rifts and imbalance between development programs and local community interests and demands.
As part of an attempt to reconstruct local history, based actually on new light of inquiry and approach, some of the papers have aptly demonstrated the urgency and importance of looking deep into one’s own past, exploring the indigenous knowledge it abodes, and the need to adopt and integrate the extraordinarily rich cultural, social, political, legal, ethical and moral values or ethnos of our ancestors into the current curricula. Another yet often overlooked issue addressed in this conference is, the culture shock encounter of foreign educated Ethiopians upon return to their home country and its impact on human capital development in general and of human capital flight in particular. Issues on marriage related transnational migration and implications on poverty and perhaps ignorance of one’s own identity, if it is to be examined at wider socio-cultural and economic context, are also entrained. Papers related to the hydro politics of the Nile and the internecine civil wars that continued to engulf over the wider territory of the Sudan examine possibilities of attaining lasting peace and mutual development visa-a-vice the gloomy atmosphere of conflict in the war torn Horn of Africa.
I thus hope that this conference, which brings scholars from diverse fields of specialization, is an important academic event that would offer valuable opportunity for intellectuals in addressing crucial issues of national, regional and international character. Ideas, principles and theoretical orientations presented in this conference can also be valuable input to policy makers. By bringing scholars and participants together, it would again be a crucial platform to inspire critical academic discourse. Furthermore, it witnesses the continued efforts and roles of the faculty and the university in creating national forum where scholars can present, discuss and exchange their research finding on such topical issues. Our prime aim and motivation in organizing such conferences ultimately focus on extending academic debate on the critical problems that human society faced today in general, and on possibilities of knowledge production in particular. In this regard, believe that the conference will create ample opportunity.
However, by virtue of its nature, the field of the social sciences often deals with themes which cannot in strict sense be quantified and explained in terms of natural laws, and predictable and testable hypothesis. For professionals in the field, this very nature of the discipline can pose difficulty in addressing research problems and issues with a clear sense of precision and confidence. To young scholars of the social sciences in particular, this may thus appear challenging, utmost frustrating and confusing. Yet, in the academic life this, rather offers the opportunity to enjoy and continually search for new idea, methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives for the better understanding of human behavior as well as for the evolution and advancement of knowledge. We should also recall that the problems students of social sciences deal with are quite immense, complex and utmost dynamic. All these characteristics and features of the disciplines of the social sciences dictate young scholars and intellectuals to be equipped with new philosophical and methodological approaches. Providing appropriate education and sharing relevant research experiences and skills to students and young staffs should therefore be vital components of our academic endeavors. It is when we develop our academic programs in line with current academic discourses and the prevailing situations of the contemporary world that our graduates can appreciate understand and address socio-cultural, economic, political and historical issues with full commitment and determination.
As mentioned, conferences like this, can give windows of opportunity to examine such and other relevant points and to gain useful insight. The critical question worth mentioning however is that do we have the relevant infrastructure and facility, the willingness, the stamina and academic caliber as well as enabling environment to achieve such grand goals efficiently and successfully? I think these are issues that we ought to address and plainly speak out if we are really concerned about the bright future of our students and the fulfillment of our mission and vision in the years to come.
Finally, I do appreciate the committee for their effort and commitment to organize and brining to fruition of the 4th national conference of the faculty. Thank you indeed.
Dean of the faculty of Social Sciences ,Bahir Dar university