Scope of the Conference
Increasing social instability and insecurity in tandem with declining global economic impact currently characterize the Arab region specifically and the Islamic World in general. Irrespective of a few countries in the region having abundant natural resources and all countries having substantial intellectual capacity, buoyant birth rates and parents willing to invest in the education and betterment of their children and family, most countries suffer poverty, food, water and energy insecurity.
In this modern era, science, technology and innovation (STI) underpin the global economy and international trade through the generation and protection of intellectual property and valuable know-how. Sadly, the general standard of STI education in the region, from the elementary level through higher education, does not meet international standards both in quality and in quantity. These areas of scholarship demand financial support and free and rigorous thinking, not mere rote learning and the deliberate exclusion of topics to the end result that nations are incapable of understanding and exploiting areas of modern technology. Underperformance in STI also translates into a growing cultural divide between the Arab region and richer, liberal and secular western democracies, a divide that may lead to isolation.
In 2016, we propose to hold a high-level conference to analyze the deficiencies in STI in the region that account not only for the poor performance of institutions and companies in the region to compete internationally but also for the declining state of the Arab condition. Focusing on the university sector, topics will include funding models (state, private, mix of the two, trusts, charities, etc.); Transparent governance systems and the extent of accordance with the ideals and concepts of a university; Independent institutional and departmental monitoring; Staff development; Project-based and distance learning; Operation in times of conflict and other constraints; Interaction with regional and national government; Promotion of entrepreneurialism including the generation, protection and exploitation of intellectual property as well as incubator facilities; Regional centers of excellence; Roles of independent learned societies; Participation in international research and development consortia; Developing networks aimed at the promotion of STI; And the interface between science and religion. Improvements to the existing operational frameworks will be proposed. The conference will make a series of recommendations to be circulated to the sponsors, governments and leading institutions.
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