Dr. Peter Munga's Speech At The Official Ground-Breaking Ceremony For The New School Of Humanities And Social Sciences Building-On November 8, 2018
The Chancellor Dr. Manu Chandaria,
The Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Zeleza,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
The University Governing Council,
The University Management Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon to you all.
I am delighted to be here today on this ground-breaking ceremony for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Building of United States International University-Africa. I must admit that although I lived in the neighbourhood for many years, I set my foot in the Campus only a week ago by invitation by the Vice Chancellor. However, I am highly impressed by what I saw. Indeed, it is evident that a lot of transformational work has been going on here for some time.
Mr. Chancellor, I am here today at a time when our Education system is undergoing a lot of reforms from the Kindergarten to the University. At the center of this reforms is the question of whether or not the education we have today help advance holistic human development and therefore national growth and development as envisioned in our national aspirations and goals of the Big Four and Vision 2030.
This existential discourse continues to pre-occupy not just the universities, but policy makers both in public and private sector. As such, the University as a teaching/learning and research center remains critical in getting an answer to this fundamental question and help in getting solutions to the many challenges we face today as a country and the continent in general.
It is instructive to note that universities, USIU included produce graduates annually in different fields of specializations which are expected to promote not just their own career development but more important, transform humanity and make this world a better place. At the center of this transformation is the realization that as a country, our collective destiny as a people remains shaky and unpredictable if as universities we do offer holistic education that ultimately provide practical solutions to the many contemporary challenges we face as a generation and lay a strong foundation for generations to come.
I am glad to note that USIU-Africa continue to produce graduates whom regardless of their majors develop and demonstrate the ability to think critically, analytically and creatively. This commitment to academic excellence has brought you where you are today. Indeed, this breaking-ground ceremony further demonstrates how you wish to shape the future of this excellence in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Mr. Vice Chancellor, I take note that in your letter of invitation, you have noted “that the building once complete will provide a creative and inspiring learning space and experience for the students in their quest for interdisciplinary engagement, blending theoretical foundations and analysis with practical exposure to contemporary issues in society and industry”
I wish to emphasize that if we stopped at the Blending of theoretical foundations and analysis without practical exposure to contemporary issues in society and industry, we shall not offer any practical solutions to the many challenges facing us. Indeed, a link between research in universities and industry is key. This is however possible if we worked together with the industries and society while developing or reviewing our curriculum. For example, how can humanities and social sciences help advance the national anti-corruption movement and national unity and integration as championed by the President? How does the quest for interdisciplinary engagement advance the Big 4 agenda and the Vision 2030? How does this school advance the African Union 2063 Agenda and the United Nations sustainable development goals? How does the graduates from this School help the critical sectors of our economy leading to growth? All these are critical questions that as faculty we need to address. It is however clear in my mind that a curriculum or education that does not align itself to addressing the challenges envisioned by her people is just education for education sake. I look forward to this School being an example regionally and globally to setting the pace of how humanities and social sciences practically advance human and national development by offering practical solutions leading to societal transformation.
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, Humanities and social sciences deal with the heritage and the question of what makes us human. We are therefore first human before we add a career, a title, a profession to ourselves. Understanding therefore the ideal human being, the values that ought to drive such a human being, his /her role in the development and growth of self and society is very important. I am informed that the School currently houses the disciplines of Psychology, International Relations, Criminal Justice and Languages. All these are very important if well-grounded to address the various questions I had raised earlier. They are the “software” of our being as a people and communities.
Lastly, I wish to implore the school to build on partnerships with industries and similar schools around the world that would help enhance the quality of teaching/learning and research. These partnerships need to be strategic and geared towards the Big 4, Vision 2030, AU Agenda 2063 and UN Sustainable development goals while domiciled within the mission of USIU-Africa to:
“Promote the discovery and application of knowledge, the acquisition of skills and the development of intellect and character in a manner which prepares students to contribute effectively and ethically as citizens of a changing and increasingly technological world.’’
I once again thank you very much for this great opportunity to not just being a guest of honor in this ground-breaking ceremony but more important, laying a great foundation for future leaders of our country, the region, Africa and the world through the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at USIU-Africa.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Dr. Peter K. Munga, EGH
November 8, 2018