Kuala Lumpur, 16 May 2014: Dato Zakri Abdul Hamid, The Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Prof. Nidhal Guessoum of American University of Sharjah, today, launched the Muslim-Science.Com’s Task Force on Teaching of Science in the Islamic World.
The Muslim-Science.Com’s Task Force Initiative seeks to jumpstart a dialogue, discourse, and debate on critical issues and big questions at the intersection of science and religion within the Islamic World. In doing so, it also seeks to reclaim the narrative of science within the Islamic Community – a narrative that in the recent years has been imposed from outside rather than created from inside – and hence begin an inside-out process of scientific revival within the Islamic World.
“There is simply no conversation or discourse around some of the most critical aspects of science and society within the Islamic World,” says Dr. Athar Osama, the Founding Editor and Publisher or Muslim-Science.Com and the Project Director. “Without addressing these in a critical manner, we will continue to approach science in a piecemeal fashion without really making our mark on its development or fully benefiting from this activity,” he adds.
The Science Teaching Task Force will bring together 10-12 leading and diverse voices from amongst the leading scholars from within the Islamic World in a series of meetings to discuss and debate upon the challenges of teaching science in Universities in the Islamic World. The big question that the Task Force is seeking to address is: Are universities the main culprits in the sorry state of science in the Muslim world? What role(s) should they be playing?
The Task Force is being Chaired by Dato Zakri Abdul Hamid – the Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Hosted by The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT). Prof. Nidhal Guessoum – Associate Dean at the American University of Sharjah – shall serve as the Coordinator of the Task Force and Dr. Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, CEO of MIGHT as the Co-Convenor. Dr. Michael Reiss of University of London and Dr. Bruce Alberts of University of California at San Francisco – both with stellar credentials in Science Education – shall serve as Expert Resource persons to the Task Force.
Dato Zakri Abdul Hamid, the Chair of the Task Force and also the Convenor of Malaysia’s Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) noted that “It is critically important that the Islamic World develops the capability and alternate platforms to critically evaluate its own weaknesses and strengths by bringing together a diverse and disparate group of experts and stakeholders and create a discourse that is driven from inside rather than outside. We hope this Task Force will bring forth a consensus that could lead to policy action across the Islamic World.“
Professor Nidhal Guessoum, the Task Force’s Convenor, stressed that “It is important that a rigorous and multi-facted review of the teaching of science at Universities in the Muslim World be undertaken by international experts. The relative weakness of our institutions of higher learning, particularly in science, cannot be always attributed to lack of funding or inadequate administrative systems; pedagogy, culture, and other factors need to be investigated. This project is both highly pertinent and timely.”
The Task Force shall meet in Kuala Lumpur in the second week of December 2014 to deliberate upon submissions made by Task Force Members, experts, and non-members subsequent to a general call for evidence and agree upon a consensus document and a report that could make recommendations to governments, universities, and other institutions around the Muslim World.
Dr. Yusoff Sulaiman, Chief Executive of MIGHT and the host of the Task Force added “it is a great honor for MIGHT to host such luminaries from across the Islamic World and beyond for this fascinating and impactfull dialogue. This will certainly go a long way in our efforts to maintain science as a part of our living culture.”
The Muslim-Science Task Forces Initiative is funded partly by John Templeton Foundation and the Science Education Task Force is brought together with the partnership and support of MIGHT, The Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS), and the Akademi Sains Malaysia (ASM).
Attachment: Task Force Launch Poster
Annex: Terms of Reference of Teaching of Science Task Force
Dr. Athar Osama
Founding Editor and Publisher, Muslim-Science.Com
and Project Director, Muslim-Science.Com Task Forces Initiative
Prof. Nidhal Guessoum
Associate Dean, American University of Sharjah
and Convenor, Task Force on Teaching of Science in the Muslim World
Mansurah Raisa Ab Rahim
Media Relations, Group Communications
Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology
Prime Minister’s Department
t: +603 8315 7807