Science, Technology, and University Outreach as a Tool for Regional Transformation

Science, Technology, and University Outreach as a Tool for Regional Transformation

B. Pandu Ranga Narasimharao (Indira Gandhi National Open University IGNOU, Mumbai, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1880-8.ch001
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The present day knowledge society is a result of the rapid progress made in science and technology. However, the development in most of the third world countries concentrated in urban areas in spite of large areas of rural and tribal areas. Universities and higher education institutions need to be educational enterprises for regional transformation. The chapter gives an outline of concepts and strategies that can be adopted for regional transformation through the use of science and technology developments and university outreach concept. It is argued that development should not be seen in narrow economic considerations but should be holistic covering body, mind and soul of individual, society, region or nation. Further the knowledge society should lead to ‘knowledge culture' and not merely knowledge economy at all levels (particularly rural, tribal and remote areas).
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Despite rapid progress and advancements in Science and Technology, the developing countries face a host of problems such as poverty, hunger, degradation of environment and natural resources, ill effects of urbanization and issues such as renewable energy generation, management of water and farm lands, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, sanitation and health. These issues are to be addressed in a more integrative and holistic way. Since in the present day knowledge era creation and application of knowledge can’t be considered as the purview of any one sector or institution, higher education institutions need to act as an educational enterprise collaborating and partnering with other stake holders. It is observed that the higher education ails with many issues and though the society around it has evolved fast with dramatic changes, the universities and their education system has changed little particularly with respect to the developing countries (Balram, 2005). There are several commissions and committees with regard to the need for renovating and rejuvenating the education systems in developing countries like India. However, implementing the recommendations and suggestions of these bodies in the existing system has been proved a difficult proposition (Knowledge commission report 2007-2009, Committee on Rejuvenation and Renovation of Higher education, 2009; Report of the committee on corporate participation in higher education, 2012; Pitroda, 2007; Vanderford, 2010). As Wrestling (1997) points out that the traditional university has many problems and is beset from within and without. He adds that to preserve it and reform, it will take much hard work and all the good will, imagination and intelligence we can muster.

As AUCC (2001) statement points out the mission of higher education is to contribute to the sustainable development and improvement of society as a whole by educating highly qualified graduates able to meet the needs of all sectors of human activity. Education should be seen as a sub-sector of a larger social sector and universities/other tertiary education institutions should function as facilitating agencies of social, economic and cultural transformation. As UNESCO’s draft resolution in 2003 states unregulated growth of higher education markets (focusing on market driven education) could weaken the sustainability of national higher education systems, particularly in less developed countries. Narasimharao (2010) while discussing biotechnology education and societal demands states: “The emergence of knowledge society warrants universities to ensure that overall work of the academy is more relevant to the nation’s most pressing civic, social, economic and moral problems and there is an urgent need to have a fresh look at the approaches followed in biotechnology education and training, particularly with reference to developing countries like India. It is necessary to see how the different players (industries, university, society, government, etc.) concerned with biotechnology can act in unison and mutually beneficial way.” Pisano (2006) argued the need for a 'new anatomy' for biotechnology which would help integrating different skills and knowledge that reside in a range of disciplines and industry sectors. It is essential to develop new approaches that can be adopted to expand the boundaries of scholarship and for integrating the activities of various stakeholders of biotechnology (Narasimharao, 2012). This is true for other science and technology fields and there is a need for finding new approaches or restructuring existing approaches to facilitate more academy-society integration. The universities under the changing societal demands in the context of knowledge society need to change themselves to organize the traditional disciplines differently suiting the needs of the society. We should ensure that the new possibilities help to re-establish the broken connection between community and education.

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