Rector on IIUM’s role towards sustainable development

By Norashikin Azizan

GOMBAK, 23 June 2019 – Universities can play a major role in making education on sustainable development a reality, IIUM Rector, Prof. Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak told Bernama News Channel’s “Ruang Bicara” programme last Thursday (20 June).

Sustainable development may be defined as a development process in meeting the needs of the present without jeopardising the capability for future generations to do the same in meeting their needs in future.

As explained by Prof. Dzulkifli, sustainable development is a new concept introduced by the United Nations in 1987 following imbalance of the world not only in terms of the economy, but also the environment and socio-culture development, where it came to realise for the need to examine the roots of the problem to rectify the imbalance for the benefit of future generations.

According to him, sustainability as a practice has long existed in the culture and society of our ancestors for centuries, but it was not termed as ‘sustainability’ per se but was embedded in daily life and became part of their life activities.

The “Ruang Bicara” programme featured a one-hour discussion with the Rector which centred on the topic “Universiti dan Pembangunan Lestari” (University and Sustainable Development) which examined the role of universities in general in the context of sustainability development and the role of IIUM specifically as a catalyst towards achieving sustainability.

IIUM had entered a new phase following the recent appointment of the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, as the new Constitutional Head replacing the late Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah who passed away on 22 May recently.

The “Ruang Bicara” programme was hosted by popular presenter, Wan Syahrina Wan Ab Rahman.

In response to the question on the role of IIUM as a catalyst in relations to education on sustainability, Prof. Dzulkifli enlightened the audience on the motto of the university itself, the “Garden of Knowledge and Virtue”, which he emphasised, correlates efforts of IIUM in achieving sustainability through education.

“Unlike a farm, which has the same thing throughout, the word ‘garden’ denotes variety as what an educated person should have as a strength, which connotes that IIUM students are capable to excel in both secular and religious knowledge,” the Rector added.

He said that this is the initial step in making sure that sustainable development can be achieved and appreciated through education.

The speaker then outlined efforts that are ongoing in the campus in order to accomplish this mission.

“Firstly, IIUM has organised a programme called River of Life, which is an effort to keep the river around the campus clean, for the sake of future generations in IIUM, to enjoy the same luxury of clean water as it is an ibadah and amanah from God.” The programme has been structured into four flagships and it involved not just students and lecturers on campus but also the nearby local community.

“Next, IIUM’s campaign on zero single-use plastic that emphasises the 3R approach, “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”, plus another ‘R’ process (Refuse) which is included in plastic usage.” This effort has particularly been a major contribution to ensure sustainability of the environment is achieved.

“Last but on least, the Jungle School.” It is a set of events where students and educators experienced the indigenous way of life in Kampung Orang Asli situated close to the campus.

Prof. Dzulkifli reiterated that this programme is very important as IIUM is taking the ‘learning by doing’ or ‘experiential learning’ method in achieving its mission of sustainability. He added that there are 29 more projects that are ongoing in all kulliyyah for a similar experience.

The insightful discussion ended with the guest speaker giving his vision of the new world where he envisioned a world of modest society which shares good values with each other and keeping a wholesome or balanced relationship between God, human beings and the environment. ***

The link to the recording of the discussion:

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