The Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka (DUIR) is one of the foremost disciplines of higher education in Bangladesh that belongs to the Faculty of Social Sciences. It is located in Dhaka, the capital city and a metropolitan area with highly liveable urban environments and is found near the centre of the city and very close to important government offices. The Department has had a relatively long history and recognized tradition, since its establishment in 1947 as the first of its kind in South Asia, in imparting education on international relations as a separate discipline and in playing a leading role in Bangladesh and beyond, particularly in the fields of security, diplomacy, foreign policy, governance, international development and multilateral cooperation.
IR as a Discipline
International Relations as a field of enquiry after struggling for decades to apportion for itself and a place in the social sciences has emerged as a full-fledged discipline in its own rights. In doing so it has evolved from its role of focusing primarily on inter-state relations and diplomatic and strategic interactions to encompassing varying activities such as international communications, legal conventions, governance, culture and society, business transactions, scientific and educational exchanges. As such, the subject has taken on a multidisciplinary character which has strengthened it both substantially and methodologically.
The world has been changing rapidly in recent decades of human history. The end of the World War II and the global changes from that time onwards involving the Cold War, détente, post-Cold War period, post-9/11 era and scientific and technological advancements have made the study of International Relations still more vast and complex in scope. The inception of the age of globalization with its accompanying technological revolutions has had their ramifications for international relations.
IR Studies in Bangladesh: The Early Journey
While keeping up the efforts of the concerned specialists to appraise and address the multifaceted issues of shifting societal relationships across the globe, the academia in Bangladesh have been striving to keep themselves up to date with the emerging challenges facing the discipline and the expanding conceptual-theoretical dimensions. Though known as a relatively new country and a young nation, the teaching of IR in Bangladesh has actually predated similar efforts in any other country of South Asia.
Indeed the initiation of endeavours to offer IR as a separate discipline in South Asia had its origin in Dhaka back in the late 1940s before the region’s current polities became independent. The Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, had its early journey in July 1947 while the subcontinent was still the part of the union of territories under the erstwhile British Commonwealth and Empire. That perhaps conferred it a unique distinction of being the first academic department in the entire region of South Asia to offer the subject of International Relations and in that it may lay a claim to pioneer IR teaching in the subcontinent.
IR Teaching at the University of Dhaka
From its very inception, the Department was committed to develop skilled personnel primarily for diplomatic, political and international administrative/business services. A distinguished historian, Dr. Mahmud Hussain (who happened to be the younger brother of the late Indian President Dr. Zakir Hussain), was the first Head of the Department of IR who later also successively served the then central government of Pakistan as Deputy Minister in late 1940s and early 1950s and the University of Dhaka as its Vice Chancellor in the early 1960s. Professor P. C. Chakravarti, the second Head of the Department, moved to Kolkata in 1952 and was one of the pioneers of the IR department in Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India.
The DUIR admitted students to Masters Programme in IR (international relations) from the academic session 1947-48. At the initial stage the Department was part of the Arts Faculty with teachers drawn from the departments of History, Political Science and Commerce. Thus from its very inception the department emphasized interdisciplinary orientation of its faculty members and the courses offered were also multi-disciplinary in scope and nature.
The department enrolled its first Bachelor (Honours) batch in 1969. It offered a three-year Bachelor degree and one year Master degree programme at the initial stages. Later the Bachelor programme was extended to four years as an integrated course system to adjust the international academic standard and practices. For over two decades the department only admitted Honours graduates from the related Social Science disciplines to Masters level programme for a one year degree in International Relations. From the session 2006-07, the department welcomed the Semester System and CGPA grading evaluation methods both in Bachelor and Master Programmes. Now, under the directives of Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Dhaka, Department of International Relations offers eight semesters/four years Bachelor (Honours) programme and two semesters/one year Master’s Programme in International Relations.
The department also offers M.Phil and PhD programmes regularly. Both M.Phil and PhD students at the department undertake innovative research on various topics within the broad purview of international relations. The department started a three-month post-graduate certificate course in International Relations in 2003-2004 which was later changed to Post-Graduate Diploma in International Relations (PGDIR). Under this programme, interested applicants having undergraduate degrees in any discipline can apply for enrolment. Participants are showing growing interests about this programme.
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