Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies in the School came into existence in 1972. It was visualized as an innovative experiment for advanced teaching and research in Educational Studies, by the Education Commission(1964-66) and the Working Group of the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The Philosophy underlying the genesis of the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies may be traced to the two observations made in the Education Commission Report (1964-66) ..
The quality of educational research in the country must improve and it can improve if and only if placed outside the physical precincts of Teachers' Training Colleges. The working group on the Centre for Educational Studies (1970) marked a point of departure as it envisaged the Centre as a team of "persons who may preferably belong to different disciplines, have a high level of basic competence in their own fields and evince interest in educational problems". This made space for social sciences in particular, while not ruling out others to accept the challenge of improving the quality of educational research byformulating and participating in group interdisciplinary programmes of teaching and research in educational studies. The working group underscored the need for preparation by the core faculty before launching a doctoral programme.
The Centre's priority area was identified as the higher education sector as it interacted intensively with primary and secondary education sectors as well. It was expected that the centre will initiate and provide leadership for educational research within the social sciences without duplicating the work being undertaken in teachers' training departments. In view of the critical role of education in initiating social change in independent India, the social scientists could not remain marginal to it nor treat education as marginal. Therefore, the centre was located in the faculty of social sciences. The university also made an exception in having the Centre named after the noted educationist, freedom fighter and later the President of India, Dr.Zakir Husain.
The Centre initiated its research programme in 1972 and the M.Phil/Ph.D teaching programme in July 1974 with six faculty members i.e. two economists, one historian, one sociologist and two psychologists. In formulating the M.Phil programme in educational studies, several issues were involved. Firstly, it had to make a departure from the existing conceptualization of 'education' and provide a broad based definition within the social sciences. Secondly,the students had to be given an interdisciplinary training in educational research while still retaining their roots within the social sciences. Thus, the problem was to break fresh ground and yet not move too far away from the basic training.
The career prospects of the students were also an important consideration. Keeping these issues in view, the M.Phil programme offers four speciadistions, namely, sociology, history, psychology and economics, according to the expertise of the faculty. However. while admitting students with background in history,economics, sociology and psychology, those with training in education, other allied social sciences and natural sciences were also accepted.