British Council - Connecting Futures Programme

British Council - Connecting Futures Programme


The Connecting Futures Programme is a new five-year British Council initiative aiming at building deeper mutual understanding, learning and respect between young people from different cultural backgrounds. The British Council has initially focussed on co-operative activities between the UK and Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

Activities funded by the Connecting Futures Programme reflect the cultural, religious and ethnic make-up of the countries participating as well as the rich multi-ethnic diversity of the UK. The British Council wants the initiative to emphasise an approach of genuine mutual listening and learning between communities in the UK and overseas. In particular, this will mean consulting more widely and working with new partners and communities in the UK and overseas on projects designed and implemented together.

Connecting Cultures Through Science and Arts

Connecting Cultures Through Science and Arts

This project under the Connecting Futures Programme entitled Connecting Cultures  through Science and Arts concentrates on the environment from a multicultural point of view. The project was initiated by Azra Meadows and Peter Meadows of Glasgow University UK, in consultation with staff of the British Council in Pakistan during December 2002 and January 2003. 

Project Focus and Aims

The project focuses on connecting the cultures of Pakistan and the United Kingdom through science and the arts in relation to the environment.  During the progress of the project Pakistani students will visit the United Kingdom – the visit described in this report - and UK students will visit Pakistan. These students represent the young people of Pakistan and the United Kingdom respectively, and will be young ambassadors of their countries.

The project aims to connect the cultures of the two countries by organising visits and meetings between young people in the 18 to 25 year age bracket, by visits to educational institutions, and by experiencing a range of environments in both countries. These include awareness building of environmental perceptions and analyses by scientists and artists in a multicultural context, the importance of past and future global environments, the central role of biodiversity and environmental protection, and the environmental impact of human societies.

First Year
The British Council initially funded a two-week visit to the UK during March and April 2003 by five postgraduate students from five universities in Pakistan. The objectives of the visit have been to allow the visitors to see a number of institutions in London and Glasgow and to meet and discuss with students and staff at these institutions. They also visited areas of geographical, heritage and environmental importance in the London area and in Scotland.

Second Year
Providing funding is available from the British Council, the Pakistani students who visited the UK during the first year will be expected to set up a web site in Pakistan of their UK experiences, and to give a joint group presentation at each of their respective institutions.

During the second year we will take an equivalent group of United Kingdom students to visit Pakistan, and it is hoped that the Pakistani group who came to the UK in the first year will be able to take part in the organisation and hosting of this visit.

Activities undertaken during the current visit

Activities undertaken during the current visit

Activities undertaken by the visiting group during the current visit, Sunday 23 March to Sunday 6 April 2003, have included the following

  • Discussions with many young scientists and artists covering life in the UK and Pakistan, focussing on multicultural aspects of science, the arts and the environment
  • Meeting representatives of educational and governmental establishments
  • Visiting educational institutions including universities, art galleries and museums, and attending and taking part in technical talks and presentations at these institutions
  • Visiting important environmental sites
  • Experiencing the multicultural diversity of life in the UK

These activities allowed the students to develop a comprehensive perception of connecting the cultures of the United Kingdom and Pakistan through science, arts, and the environment. The link between science, arts and the environment proved innovative and stimulating for the visiting students. On a broader scale this led to an appreciation by the visiting group of the need to integrate scientific and artistic endeavour to protect the global environment for future generations.

Visitors Names

Visitors Names

Ms Zaira Ahmad
Department of Environmental Science, Lahore College for Women University, Lahore

Ms Rafia Fayyaz
Department of Environmental Sciences, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi

Mr Muhammad Owais
Institute of Environmental Science, University of Karachi, Karachi

Mr Noman Elehi Malghani
Department of English, University of Balochistan, Quetta

Ms Nadia Tariq
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Peshawar, Peshawar

The visitors were selected from all four provinces of Pakistan. Four of the visitors were senior students in Environmental Science and related subjects at their respective universities, and the fifth, Mr Noman Elehi Malghani, was a senior student of English Literature.

Learning objectives of the visit to the United Kingdom

Learning objectives of the visit to the United Kingdom

At the beginning of the visit, we presented learning objectives to the students. This approach is based on schemes in use at the University of Glasgow for learning objectives associated with courses and individual lectures.

The learning objectives and the preamble were as follows:
We hope that you will have enjoyed your visit to the United Kingdom and made many good friends here. By the end of your visit you will have developed a good understanding of how our multicultural society works, and how science and the arts play a central role in our understanding of the environment.

However there are specific outputs that we hope you will have learnt as you have met friends, visited institutions, and seen the environment in and around London and Glasgow. To help you focus your ideas we have outlined what we feel you should have achieved as learning objectives. These are as follows.

You should be able to:

  • Appreciate the multicultural nature of present day society in the UK
  • Appreciate the multicultural aspects of science and the arts in the UK
  • Understand the consultative nature of developing plans for the British Council Connecting Futures Programme
  • Be aware of the role that universities, museums and art galleries play in  promoting the study of arts, science and the environment
  • Be able to apply experiences obtained during your visit to the UK to potential developments in science, arts and the environment in Pakistan
  • Understand the organisation of universities and the government in the UK
  • Discuss the role of young people in science, the arts and the study of the environment in the UK
  • Appreciate the highly important role that Pakistanis contribute to the culture of the UK, in terms of education and business
  • Understand the importance of the Pakistan High Commission in London and the Pakistan Vice Consulate in Scotland in representing the views and activities of Pakistanis in the UK and abroad
  • Know the way public transport systems operate between and within cities in the UK
  • Describe accommodation facilities available in the private sector in the UK
  • Appreciate the functioning of the University of Glasgow as an example of the UK university system, and its role in promoting international research, scholarship and teaching in sciences and the arts
  • Understand the need for and function of the Thames Barrier on the River Thames in London
  • Appreciate the innovative role played by the Glasgow Science Centre in publicising science, arts and the environment, and compare this with the more traditional approach of the Hunterian Museum of Zoology in the University of Glasgow
  • Appreciate the role of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in promoting classical and modern music
  • Understand the national and international role of the University Marine Biological Station Millport, Scotland, in studying sea and the coastal zone, and their dedication to research and teaching in this field
  • Appreciate the outstanding artistic and scientific and environmental importance of the Scottish Highlands
  • Understand the function of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Scotland
  • Understand the global multicultural role played by the Natural History Museum, London in conserving and protecting the world’s biodiversity
  • Appreciate the scientific and artistic innovation and international scientific service provided by the new Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum, London
  • Understand the global multicultural role played by the British Museum, London, in curating and displaying artefacts and art from the world’s civilisations
  • Appreciate the unique collections of books available at the British Library, London and the national and international role that the library plays - examples being the India Office collection, and the environmental sciences collection
  • Describe the function and activities of the Zoological Society of London, and understand how its scientific and artistic and educational activities that promote environmental conservation and breeding programmes for endangered animal species
  • Appreciate how a national scientific meeting is conducted at the Linnean Society of London, and the international role that the Society plays in conserving the global biodiversity of plants and animals
  • Appreciate the Palace of Westminster and how the House of Commons and House of Lords function

Feedback and Impressions of the Visit

Feedback and Impressions of the Visit

Towards the end of the visit, the students were asked what else they would have liked to see. They were also asked to write one sentence on their overall impressions of the visit. The responses to these to questions are as follows.

What else would you have liked to see:

  • More interaction with UK students
  • Attending University lectures
  • Finding out how to tackle student assignments
  • Comparing student learning and teaching
  • What job prospects and career advice are available to graduating students
  • Participation in field activities
  • Joint project planning and execution
  • More UK culture plays and concerts to be seen
  • Opportunity to give presentations to UK students
  • More time needed to prepare for visits
  • More time needed for discussion after each days activities

Overall impressions of the visit:

"This is the most memorable visit in my life. It has given me a lot of self-confidence and has been an excellent learning experience, with an opportunity to talk to so many people from various cultural backgrounds. In fact it has been a complete turn over in my life."

"Visiting the UK is the most wonderful experience of my life. Observing and understanding how this great country works and how it cherishes the basic principles of humanity is some thing I will never forget."

"One of the great experiences of my life is my visit to Great Britain - just wonderful."

"A very good experience which will help me later in life because I met different cultures and saw many environments."

"Whenever I will flip through the pages of memory I am sure that the days I have spent in England and Scotland will shine brightly. It was an unforgettable experience."

Outputs of the visiting group on return to Pakistan

Outputs of the visiting group on return to Pakistan

We hope that the students who have taken part in the visit to the United Kingdom will undertake the following activities to achieve the proposed outputs.

1. Reports of visits. Certification of visit and report
Each of you will be expected to provide a word-processed report on your visit, of four to six A4 pages. Please do not exceed this length. Your report should concentrate on the importance of cross-cultural aspects of science and the arts, and also show how these are used to develop our understanding of the environment. Your report should be emailed as a word document attachment to Azra Meadows (email:, or sent as a hard copy to Azra Meadows, Graham Kerr Building, DEEB, IBLS, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.

The deadline for the receipt of this report was 1st August 2003. There will be a prize for the best two reports. After receipt of the reports, each student will receive a certificate stating that they have successfully completed the two-week visit to the United Kingdom and presented a report of their experiences.

2. Presentations at parent universities in Pakistan
Provided funding is available from the British Council, the group of Pakistani students who have visited the UK during March and April 2003, should jointly visit their parent universities in Pakistan as a group and present a half day seminar on their visit to the UK at each university. These seminars should cover cross-cultural science and arts in relation to environmental issues as perceived in the United Kingdom and as applicable to Pakistan.

3. Web site on 'Cross Cultural Arts, Science and the Environment'
Provided funding is available from the British Council, the group will be expected to jointly establish a web site that will provide an interactive forum for exchange of views by young people in Pakistan and the United Kingdom. This could include e-music, e-images of the UK visit, e-quizes about arts, science and the environment, and details of the March-April 2003 visit to the United Kingdom. In this context, a digital camera was provided by the British Council for the students during their visit to the United Kingdom The images recorded during the visit will be of great use in constructing and maintaining the web site, and also for presentations at parent universities (item 2).

4. Visit by United Kingdom students to Pakistan
Provided funding is available from the British Council, you will be expected to take part in hosting a visit by a group of United Kingdom students to Pakistan, with the same overall objectives as your visit to the United Kingdom.