KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 – Universities should find a balance between social sciences and humanities with the fields of science, engineering and medicine, said Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh. He said the integration of science with arts, humanities and philosophy would further enhance the university as a house of wisdom. “This must be translated into academic programmes and research initiatives,” he said when opening the World Engineering, Science and Technology Congress 2014 (ESTCON 2014), here, today.

His speech text was read out by the Education Ministry’s secretary-general II Datuk Seri Ir Dr Zaini Ujang. Also present was vice-chancellor and chief executive officer of Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP)-cum-ESTCON 2014 organising chairman, Datuk Ir Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim. “I am a strong believer in being inclusive, and that good universities should be inclusive. Their structure, departments and faculties must complement the diverse range of fields and disciplines,” Idris said. He said sciences and humanities should never be marginalised as humanism was needed for tolerance, reason, adventure of ideas and the search for truth.

“The arts and humanities nurture the critical and creative perspectives,” he said, adding that ESTCON 2014 was a wonderful platform for the academia and industry to showcase their latest advancement and findings in engineering, science, technology and humanities. The congress, themed ‘Engineering, Science, Technology and Humanities: Convergence for a Sustainable Future’ has gathered over 1,000 experts from 40 countries from diverse fields of research and innovation. The three-day ESTCON 2014 is organised by UTP with the support of the Education Ministry, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, Malaysian Innovation Agency, KPerak Implementation and Coordination Corporation (KPerak) and UTP Foundation.

Speaking to reporters later, Zaini said the ministry was trying to introduce liberal arts into the National Higher Education Strategic Plan 2015-2025. By doing this, he said, the students would be given the opportunity to learn liberal arts and have a good knowledge in all necessary major subjects that they should learn at university. “In the near future, we will produce engineers who will be able to understand sociology, humanities and economy. Currently, we have many technological universities but we don’t have a university that gives you the wholesome idea of knowledge,” he said.

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