Throughout my schooling years, mathematics used to give me nightmares, and by nightmares I mean real ones, and this is not a rare occurrence, I know many and I can find many with similar phobia. According to many surveys, mathematics is one of the most hated subjects by students of all ages. Similar is the case with chemistry. Those who get sync with subjects’ chemistry tend to love it but such lovers are rather few in numbers. Physics and biology are among the more bearable group of natural sciences. Many students, especially of natural science can disagree with that, but I myself being a student of social science can take liberty to show my discontent and my all time hidden fear on behalf of my whole race (those who hate natural science). But this expression is not for creating a gap between natural sciences and social sciences which is unfortunately already very wide; rather it’s a realization for me and my race that we must not fear the basic knowledge of science.

There are some interesting observations and incidents which brought this realization in me and they are worth sharing. I had a class fellow named Arshad Abaasi in MS who was completely sightless but amazingly he was the topper of the class and very influential kind of personality. He served as a Lecturer in Islamic University and later topped the foreign services group, presently serving as an Assistant Director. Many take his life and abilities as a miracle but on close observation you find out that he earned and achieved everything through utter handwork and intelligence. He gave me first shocker when we together appeared in GAT general test which consisted of 50 percent of English and 50 percent of mathematics. I managed to pass the test with good score in English but in other section my score was embarrassing while Arshad scored 90 plus. How can a pure social science student score this much in math? It was the first question came into my mind but later after observing his social activities I came to know that he gives chief importance to interdisciplinary knowledge than many others of his cadre. The other incident is more recent and knocked me hard. Plato is considered among one of the fathers of western political thought, he was a philosopher and with that, he was mathematician, a rare combination to find in contemporary times. But astonishing are the words which were written on the door of his academy, “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here”. The words definitely put me in some bother as I always took him as a social scientist but in another way his philosophy is impossible to understand if you don’t have knowledge of geometry which is offshoot of Mathematics. No, I haven’t started taking classes of geography yet but I got really interested in probing theme and significance of interdisciplinary knowledge in our daily and professional lives.

The literal meaning of interdisciplinary is related with “combining of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g. a research project). It is about creating something new by crossing boundaries, and thinking across them. It is related to an interdiscipline or an interdisciplinary field, which is an organizational unit that crosses traditional boundaries between academic disciplines or schools of thought, as new needs and professions have emerged”. This brought back memories of those Muslim scientists and their introductions in our text books of physics and chemistry. Jabir Ibn Hayyan, was not only a chemist but he was a philosopher, a physicist, an astronomer, an engineer, a geographer and pardon me if I have missed something or added something extra. But on a serious note, those were the men who laid the foundation of their knowledge so wide that it is still provides a base for all modern knowledge.

As time passed, field of research and education evolved and every field of study progressed immensely. Now, in one life you can only specialize in a specific area of particular subject. Scholars and scientist of recent times may not be introduced after their deaths as we remember our forefathers in same fields. But this really does not matter; the thing which matters is that we should not let the natural curiosity die within us. There is a deep relation between curiosity and interdisciplinary knowledge, Einstein quoted at many instances that intuition, curiosity and imagination are more powerful notions than merely collecting information in shape of knowledge.

In context of academics of Pakistan, especially as a student of social science, I am really worried about the scope of those who are related by humanities. One reason is the prevailing unemployment in the state, and other is lack of thought and vision of our existing Institutes. Though universities provide a wide range of subjects which a student can opt but there is hardly any forum in any university where they encourage the interdisciplinary knowledge. Unfortunately most of students remain unaware about interdisciplinary studies.

So, why students like me keep hating the basic sciences? May be because we are not introduced with philosophical disposition of Mathematics, the romantic side of physics, the engaging ability of chemistry and we keep fearing and avoiding such basic necessities of knowledge. It also make us suffer professionally, many who want to do GRE international which is basic prerequisite for PHD entrance, find difficulty in coping with math which covers half of the test.

Einstein in Past, and Stephen Hawking in recent times are extraordinary examples of what interdisciplinary knowledge can achieve. If you go through philosophical thoughts of Einstein you will find a certain amount of accuracy which is rare to find in social science because of its subjective nature.  Similiarly, Hawking has not contented himself to physics only, he uses his knowledge to explain romantic concepts like time and God. Being receptive to your environment will bring a cognitive ability which helps one to become more articulate and analytical.

There are many interdisciplinary research institutes and universities worldwide and in Pakistan as well which are working on groundbreaking projects. But schools in general and Pakistani Schools in specific do not provide you with a base which is essential for interdisciplinary understanding. Rather than collecting general information only, try to get the basics of other subjects as well, and this goes for the students of Natural sciences as well. Keep observing and keep feeding your curiosity because ironically, I learnt the art of observation through a blind man. Do not fear the knowledge, especially geometry; otherwise it would be impossible to enter in the Plato’s academy.