Tag Archives: Malaysia

International Conference on “University Leadership for Integrating Knowledge Diversity for Sustainability”

Sub-themes: Regenerating Social Science with (1) Locally Relevant (Indigenous) Knowledge Systems and (2) Sustainability Principles
October 5-7, 2012
Venue: AlBukhary International University, Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia (www.aiu.edu.my)
Conference organisers: AiU and Multiversity
Suppported by Ministry for Higher Education, Malaysia/AKEPT – Higher Education Leadership Training Academy

The International Conference on “University Leadership for Integrating Knowledge Diversity for Sustainability” scheduled for October 2012 is taking place at a most turbulent time in the lives of universities and higher education.

Several universities have been seriously considering disassociating themselves progressively from decades-long dependence on imported Western academic frameworks and to replace these with more productive interactions with diverse knowledge traditions including local or indigenous knowledge available within local, regional and national arenas. In contrast with Western knowledge frameworks, local knowledge systems carry inbuilt sustainability features.

At the global level, despite numerous declarations and initiatives to formulate and implement more just, resilient, environmentally sustainable policies, change has come slowly, in fact too slowly, for the planet.

Post Rio+20, higher education (HE) was to play a more critical leadership role in the changing intellectual landscape especially in the effort to redefine the paradigm of knowledge and learning at least at the institutional level and bring this in line with sustainability directives.

However, the HE system is not finding it easy to transform itself to meet the requirements of the new construct required with a clear change in purpose. The challenges expected include the extensive reorganisation and transformation of knowledge to enable universities to allow for a more integrated approach to address urgent and serious global issues and overall strengthening of the capacity of social science to generate socially useful, culturally harmonious and relevant knowledge and information.  Hence the proposed October Conference.

The new approach which the October Conference seeks to host proposes to cut across conventional knowledge disciplines and is encompassed within a holistic framework which includes careful study, revalidation and use of thousands of non-western technologies, values and wisdom that have been generated in diverse, local, national and regional contexts.  

The conference follows closely on the themes of the international conference on “Decolonising Our Universities” held by Universiti Sains Malaysia in June 2011. However, where the earlier conference dwelt largely on a comprehensive critique of the existing – admittedly Eurocentric – university system and the need to change, the AiU October Conference proposes to transcend those boundaries and provide leadership in the challenging sphere of revalidating culture-based knowledges, in addition to proposing alternative knowledge structures that further sustainability and sustainable livelihoods, thereby strengthening social science.

The AiU International conference is thus designed to tackle two fundamental sub-themes:

  • Higher education for sustainability which will look at the new construct with a clear change in purpose to transform existing knowledge structures in social science to allow for a more integrated approach to sustainability problems facing the planet.
  • Examination, revalidation and use of indigenous knowledge, wisdom and values within the university (higher education) system leading to serious consideration and integration of these knowledge systems at the national, regional and global levels.
  • The conference is inviting international and local experts and practitioners to discuss the sub themes with a view to:
  • Appraise the existing knowledge system within the framework of sustainable development directives of the international community and to generate an informed critique, as it is widely accepted that conventional frameworks of higher education and development are unsustainable and that the existing structure of knowledge generation in social science does not lead to sustainable practice.
  • Examine current gaps in the support of sustainable education and discuss alternative knowledge constructs, especially indigenous knowledge, to fill these gaps.
  • Achieve a credible target of integrating indigenous knowledge, wisdom and values with conventional social science in order to implement the internationally endorsed directives relating to sustainability.

The conference will be of two full days’ duration on both the proposed themes and will host approximately 100 people both from the international arena and from Malaysia. It will commence on 5th October (Friday afternoon) and conclude on 7th evening. There will be an official opening ceremony and two key note addresses for each of the sub-themes.

Conference on Colonialism and Decolonization

Call for papers.
We are pleased to inform you that the Department of History and Civilization, IIUM, with the collaboration of International Institute of Islamic Thoughts and Civilization (ISTAC) and the National Archives of Malaysia will be organizing the above programme at ISTAC, IIUM KL Campus on 17th-19th April 2012.

We are inviting you to contribute generously by sending abstract to the conference. You may send your paper in English, Arabic and Bahasa Melayu or Indonesia. We have an editorial board to look your abstracts and papers to make them publishable.
Kindly visit our website for further details: www.ICCD2012.com

Department of History and Civilization
Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge
and Human Sciences

Decolonising our Universities–Penang (June 2011)

International Conference on “Decolonising Our Universities” June 27-29th, 2011, Penang, Malaysia

Multiversity is pleased to announce its Fourth International Conference on the subject of “Decolonising Our Universities” being held in Penang, Malaysia, from June 27-29, 2011.  The conference is being jointly organized by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Citizens International (CI), both based in Penang.

The specific objective of the conference is to provide a platform to scholars, researchers and activists to share work done by them individually or by their departments and institutions on drafting university curricula, syllabuses and courses in social sciences teaching and research that consciously avoid, deny or reject Eurocentric frameworks and assumptions.

The conference is not focused on Eurocentrism itself. The explicit purpose is to encourage academics within the Global South to move out of a Eurocentric worldview in the sphere of knowledge production, especially in the social sciences, and to help regenerate or create fresh models of intellectual enquiry and research more in touch with their own realities and intellectual traditions.

It is an undisputed reality of our times that most academic knowledge has been hegemonized by the western world. The hegemony has extended to even the perception of what constitutes knowledge. This situation of tyranny has prevailed now for over 200 years. Efforts are even now underway to expand further the reach and influence of existing social science models from European and American universities and to intensify dependence of the academic community located within the Global South on these.

There have been several attempts to resist this hegemony in knowledge production and sharing or what Ward Churchill has referred to as the empire of “white studies.” There is an intensive discussion underway on the reality of Eurocentrism and on the baleful distortions that affect knowledge when it is impregnated by such ethnocentric western assumptions and orientations. This  discussion is taking place across the board beginning from anthropology and extending to the media and communications. African scholars, for example, have recently challenged the propriety of teaching traditions of western philosophy contaminated with racism in African universities.

By and large, however, thousands of universities across the Global South have uncritically imported, adopted or inherited the prevailing model of social science research from the European academic community (which, of course, also comprised their erstwhile colonizers). Prestigious universities like Delhi, for example, continue to teach courses in which the bulk of the content is unabashedly imported from the west. This, nearly sixty years of being politically free.

Multiversity – a joint project of Citizens International in Malaysia headed by S.M. Mohammad Idris (also President of the Third World Network), and Other India Press headed by Claude Alvares from India – has held three earlier international conferences to take this discussion and its momentum forward. The first conference was held in 2002, the second in 2006 and the third in August 2010. (See www.multiworldindia.org.) At these conferences several discussions have taken place on these issues and it was therefore resolved to bring together in June this year:

a) Researchers and scholars who have done substantial work in excoriating the ghost of Eurocentrism consciously from their teaching and academic work or institutions;

b) Persons at the university level including Vice Chancellors who might be keen to introduce non-Eurocentric research methodologies in their own universities and departments.

c) Innovators who have ventured beyond the petrified framework of lectures in lecture halls and developed methodologies of learning that once again excite students, enthuse society and economy, and help generate new knowledge that is of use to society as a whole.

For the conference, the Secretariat is preparing for circulation a preliminary Source Book containing the output of scholars and intellectuals who have done work in this specific area. However, Multiversity is also committed – pursuant to the conference – to publishing a volume comprising all the presentations made during the event. This would also perhaps be the first major text reflecting academic attempts emanating from the Global South to depart from the regime of Eurocentric social sciences.

Claude Alvares
Multiversity Coordinator
Goa, India

(For more information about the conference, please visit www.multiworldindia.org, or email: Claude Alvares (goafoundation@gmail.com) or Uma Ramaswamy (idris_md@streamyx.com)

Image courtesy of dennisyu68