There is broad agreement that the 21st century promises to be a time of scientific and technological growth at a level never before experienced in human history. This growth will either trigger chaos, disruption, war, starvation and disease or will introduce a period of humanistic cooperation, development, progress, and peace. What emerges will depend upon which values are embraced, taught, encouraged, and legislated. And it is at this point according to Professor John Odhiambo, Strathmore University Vice Chancellor where university professors equipped with knowledge based on research need to intervene and provide solutions to guide government and society in general on the way to success.
In a presentation to JKUAT professors on Tuesday July 20, 2009, Prof. Odhiambo said Kenya faced many social, political and economic challenges which he said could be solved through informed solutions. Universities he said should urgently adopt new approaches to build and enhance relations between researches, policy and practices that were currently conducted in a disjointed and jumbled fashion. Research that professors undertake and, the academic programmes that they guide faculty to develop he said should be responsive to Kenya’s economic and social challenges.
Professor Odhiambo informed the 4th JKUAT Annual Professorial Luncheon that as a modern university, JKUAT had to urgently embrace the dimension of social commitment to influence human development. Kenya he told the top scholars was faced by many challenges citing governance and leadership, food security, environmental degradation, corruption, violence, and tribalism and wondered to what extent university professors in JKUAT were confronting the crisis through research and training. These challenges he warned could not receive adequate consideration from the political elite and national planners without timely input of research evidence by professors to inform the work of policy makers.
The starting point in tackling these upheavals according to Prof. Odhiambo was for the Kenyan university professors who were leaders and stewards of academic heritage in universities where they wielded considerable influence to actively start inculcating humanistic values to students under their care as a way of promoting the country’s national cohesion that continue to remain a major stumbling block to Kenya’s nationhood. Prof. Odhiambo underlined the importance of humanistic education suggesting that subjects like anthropology, philosophy, ethics, history, cultural studies and languages should be at the core of the curriculum. There was a new thinking he said that was now gaining credence that lack of objective moral criteria was largely responsible for the current economic slump sweeping across the world and threatening capitalism.