By Emmanuel Edukugho
IN order to remain relevant to the society, universities must be active schools for education and research, be vigorous academic communities and serve the best interest of the nation.
Prof. Dele Olowokudejo, chairman, Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 5th UNILAG Research Conference and Fair, the theme of which is â€œCollaborative Research for Sustainable National Development,â€ charged universities to invest in research.
â€œUniversities must invest in research which is knowledge and new knowledge always provides educational, cultural and intellectual enrichment which leads to social benefits, endogenous development and progress.â€
He explained that the key words are collaborative research which simply means working togetherÂ actively to discover facts; and sustainable development: â€œmeeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,â€ as contained in the World Commission on Environment and Development Report â€”Our Common Future.
Olowokudejo, in his welcome address at the international conference which brought together Scholars of the Sciences and Humanities, said that social development in the next 50 years, including improvement of living standards, rational utilisation of resources, preservation of ecological diversity and stability, social security and human advancement will depend largely on the advancement we make in our various disciplines, most especially science.
â€œIn the circumstance, the present generation has the responsibility to develop their special areas for sustainable development.â€
He used science in its broadest sense to include: The national sciences â€”physics, chemistry, life sciences, space science, health sciences, etc.
Technological sciences â€”Communication Computer science, electronics, etc. Human sciencesâ€”economics, sociology, anthropology, history, geography, psychology, etc and the â€œexactâ€ sciencesâ€”e.g. mathematics.
â€œThe traditional boundaries of scientific disciplines are becoming vaguer than ever before, and the interface between disciplines is becoming a frontier for scientific breakthroughs. Modern science is characterized by complexity, multi-disciplinary interplay and diversity.
Complexity means that the human social system, global economic system, natural ecosystem, brain and neural system, earth system and other systems in modern science deal with multi-dimensional, multi-layered and large-scale complex systems.â€
He pointed out that objects for scientific research, theory, methodology and application objectives are varied and diversified no single discipline can solve these complicated problems.
â€œThus, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary efforts are needed. Moreover, with the rapid development and communication technology and creation, dissemination, transfer application of scientific knowledge are much faster than ever before. Scientific development and advancement in our areas of research are also promoted by global competition and collaboration.â€
He stated that it is the responsibility of the present generation to forecast the trend of development in science and their various disciplines and to lead future generations in the right direction.
â€œThe present generation has the responsibility of applying science in the promotion of social and economic development. Science provides us with the latest thought and instruments for recognising the complicated processes of nature and human society.â€
Olowokudejo affirmed that scientific discovery is still the foundation of technological developmental and revolution.
According to him, science presents new means for peaceful coexistence between man and nature, and between different peoples. Scientific knowledge, methodology and evidence are used to enhance social civilization, legislature and decisionâ€“making.
Advancement in science is also the basis for the eradication of poverty and inequity, and improvement in the quality of life of the people.
He urged scholars to untie in a common vision of our collective future and â€œcommit ourselves to the use of knowledge derived from the natural, social and technological sciences to address basic human needs, improve the quality of life for all the citizens of our nation and generate a healthy environment for the present and future generation.