BRIDGING A GAP: All universities will have one, says Khaled
KUALA LUMPUR: A SOCIAL Sciences and Humanities Academy will be established in all universities to bridge the gap between science and humanities.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the academy would continue to create social and human sciences tradition in Malaysia as a post-colonial nation state.
"It also reduces our academic dependency on external intellectual traditions.
"Considering the social sciences and humanities was not indigenous but transplanted to Malaysia, it was not possible from the beginning for it to develop," Khaled said when opening the three-day World Engineering, Science and Technology Congress here yesterday.
Khaled said the academy would pull together scholars from diverse disciplines, themes and areas, including from science, medicine and engineering, to look at addressing social and political problems faced by the nation.
Public debates and policies, he said, must be informed by the integration of science and the humanities.
"It is also important to assess that research in science and technology has been informed by national priorities, polices and sentiments."
Khaled said while science, technology and engineering were important, social sciences and the humanities should never be marginalised. "Those who perceive social sciences and humanities to be non-utilitarian, gainfully unemployable and just plain inferior to that corpus we call science and technology, are wrong and mistaken.
"The moment we neglect the arts and the humanities, which nurture the critical and the creative perspective, then we are in fact neglecting the need for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search for truth."
Universities, he said, should promote the social sciences and humanities to be on a par with sciences, engineering and medicine.
"This must be translated into academic programmes and research initiatives."
Khaled later told a news conference that humanities and liberal arts were equally important to develop the country.
"The time has come to gather all social scientists to face the challenges ahead. Science and technology are not enough."
Khaled added that Universiti Sains Malaysia, as the apex university, had been asked to draw up humanities programmes that could run concurrently with science and technology programmes.
Khaled said Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) would be awarded research university status.
He said UTP would be the only private university to be awarded the status this year.