In sum, they contribute to the betterment of human civilisation in local realities and global dimensions. Their knowledge generation is about fundamental knowledge and applied knowledge, theories, practical ideas and solutions. They ensure that the next generation will continue to the next level of contributions.
Universities are, perhaps, the most important institutions in any society encompassing the best of what religious, scientific, health, economic and social institutions do.
Universities set the highest standards and must be the models of excellence in mission and operations in every nook and corner of the campus and in every niche and recesses of the mind and in every action for betterment.
Universities cannot be ivory towers but be engaged with the immediate communities and humanity, in face-to-face and virtual modes.
Typically, to achieve the various goals of its existence, university scholars from all mature and newly-emerging disciplines of knowledge conduct teaching, research, publication (and knowledge management and dissemination), consultancy and service to community.
The new academia is not just about rating, national, and global rankings. It is also not just about factory-like production of leaders with soft skills and entrepreneurship under the drive of marketability and employability.
A university is much much more, and challenging, and generates knowledge and insights into reality that even religious institutions do not do.
It creates conducive environments for scholars and students to raise dangerous questions and search for answers regarding whether the world is flat or not, whether there are parallel universes, whether the heroes of history were actually the villains and whether slavery in different forms stills exist in modern society.
Its scholars seek the root cause and consequences of human trafficking, greed and corruption and seek understanding of the mind and soul of man. It dares to seek answers to the question of where in the sweep of the history of creation the dinosaurs were when Adam and Eve were created and clarify the timelines of prehistory and recorded history in the minds of men, especially of confused leaders.
It searches for deeper understanding and be master of matter and energy, time and space, the finite and infinite, varieties of experiences and matters of life and death. It seeks to generate laws and principles, which are challenged all the time, such as the law, “matter can neither be created and destroyed”.
It searches for understanding of sacred religious beliefs of God’s eternal power of commandment: “KunfayaKun”— “Be” and “things exist”. Just as there is expectation that the religious classes, those who teach religion, proselytisers, those who acquire religious degrees and those who invoke religious decrees in their actions to influence others must be the best of mankind and reflect virtues, likewise there are similar expectations of scholars and academicians.
Like sacred religious institutions, universities are institutions related to the guardianship of human knowledge and the character of human virtues. Universities are not hubs for racism, religious extremism, narrow politics, myth making, idolatry and distortions of received wisdom or knowledge in creation.
Ideally, universities are institutions for the growth of the best of mankind, and, the gradual and radical elimination of the follies of humankind when there are validated discoveries and clarity of new knowledge.
Academicians are expected to champion these ideals just as soldiers and patriots die for their ideals and missions. Academicians must die the symbolic death in search of truth, justice, goodness, freedom, beauty, equality and other core fundamental and eternal virtues.
Ideally, academicians are true leaders, scholars and intellectuals with their own virtues and sacred pursuits. Whether their disciplines are in the natural, or social science or humanities they are not pawns or proxies of others who have lesser and narrow missions in temporal life for the pursuit of power, wealth and status in their own society or beyond.
They must resolve to rebuild a sacred culture of knowledge generation and knowledge management and be the guardians of truth and goodness and knowledge-based virtue.
Academicians are among the highest educated people in society and they must not surrender mind, body and soul to the base ambitions of rabble-rousing lesser people, but, must continuously be vigilant of their sacred roles and reclaim higher and nobler grounds of humanity’s existence and mission. Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajuni NST Home News Opinion 9 OCTOBER 2015 @ 11:00 AM