Malaysia Cultivates ‘Nobelist Mindset’ in Students, Science Teachers, and Scientists with Help of the New York Academy of Sciences
Educators and scientists from the New York Academy of Sciences and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia have collaborated to create an innovative curriculum designed to promote a culture of world-class science research in Malaysia.
February 1, 2013, New York, NY—Winning a Nobel Prize is a notoriously hard feat-perhaps even more so if you come from a country where it has never been done before. This year, the Malaysian government, spurred by Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak's commitment to education reform, is taking concrete steps toward bringing a Nobel Prize to its nation, and it has enlisted the help of the New York Academy of Sciences (the Academy) in doing so.
This week, the first phase of the Nobelist Mindset Pilot Program kicked-off with a week-long course in which high-level educators and researchers affiliated with the Academy visited Malaysia. They instructed gifted high school students, science teachers, and outstanding young scientists affiliated with the PERMATApintarTM Program, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), and other Malaysian Ministry of Education schools on what it takes to become a prize-winning scientist. PERMATApintar is a Malaysian program for gifted students, established through the guidance of the Prime Minister's wife, and dedicated education advocate, Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor.
On January 30, the Prime Minister's wife officiated the first Nobelist Mindset Workshop involving 80 high school students from PERMATApintar, 20 science teachers, and 20 young scientists from all over Malaysia. The workshops were conducted by teaching teams of 10 prominent international scientists assembled by the Academy; workshop leaders have expertise in fields ranging from education and social science to neuroscience, neurobiology, and biotechnology.
Educators and scientists from the Academy and its affiliates worked closely with preeminent scientists and scholars from UKM to create the Nobelist Mindset program curriculum. It was designed to develop the conditions necessary for teachers, students, and researchers to flourish in the sciences—with the idea that such a course can be replicated throughout the country.
"The government realizes the importance of having an elite and competitive workforce for Malaysia to excel in the global arena. Having the Nobelist mindset in our young augurs well for development of research prominence in our country," said Prof. Emeritus Dato' Sri Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid, the Science Advisor to the Malaysian Prime Minister and Joint Chairman of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT).
"Malaysia has invested heavily in the next generation of scientists and the students, scientists, and teachers who participate in this course will have the extra edge towards a life of research that can improve the world through science. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of scientists to craft ambitious research agendas aimed at making the world a better place," says Dr. Meghan Groome, Executive Director of Education and Public Programs at the Academy.
After the course, Nobel laureate Sir Richard Roberts will spend a month in Malaysia-acting as the official Laureate-in-Residence at UKM. He will spend his month in Malaysia interacting with students, teachers, and scientists, allowing them to continue their trajectory of learning.
The Nobelist Mindset Pilot Program is representative of the Prime Minister's larger goal to make Malaysia a high-income country through the development of a knowledge economy-one built around science, technology, and innovation. The Program was conceived as a result of a memorandum of understanding signed at a 2012 meeting of Malaysia's Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), of which the Academy and MIGHT serve as co-chairs.
Nobelist Mindset program activities include skill-building in areas identified by Nobel laureates as essential to success, including working across disciplines, learning to communicate the value of one's work to diverse audiences, having passion for research, and setting an ambitious research agenda that will improve the human condition. The program design provides separate workshops for each group (students, teachers, and scientists) and when appropriate, brings the groups together so that they can learn from one another (e.g., all groups working in multi-age teams to solve a complex scientific problem).
The Nobelist Mindset Pilot Program forms an integral component of the GSIAC Cradle to Career (or C2C) Initiative spearheaded by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education, representing an effort to accelerate the Human Capacity Building Program. The C2C Initiative is based on the principle of integrating seamless innovation training (including elements of creativity and entrepreneurship) throughout a student's educational life.
"We at the Academy are impressed with Malaysia's commitment to building a knowledge economy from the ground up. Key to these efforts has been the government's desire and willingness to invest in Malaysia's future by providing talented youth with incredible opportunities to further develop their scientific skills and passion for research," says Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the Academy.
"The Nobelist Mindset Program at UKM will be the keystone in our efforts to produce Nobel Laureates for Malaysia," says Tan Sri Sharifah Hapsah, Vice Chancellor, UKM.
Members, Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) for Malaysia:
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) established in 1970, is the national university of Malaysia with Bahasa Melayu as the primary medium of instruction. Based on its excellent research outputs in the past four decades, UKM has been recognized as one of the principal research universities in Malaysia in 2006. As a research university, UKM's objectives are to provide sufficient professionals, scientists and researchers for the knowledge and innovation led economy.
In line with UKM's motto 'Inspiring futures, Nurturing possibilities' emphasis is placed on supporting student overall development especially in the area of entrepreneurship. The university has over 20,000 undergraduate (60%) and graduate students (40%) with over 3,000 international students from 55 countries. For more info visit www.ukm.edu.my
The PERMATApintarTM program was founded by YABhg. Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor, the Prime Minister's wife who is passionate about helping children develop and grow into their full potential. She has been an avid proponent of the Malaysian gifted program since its inception. The program was launched on the 3rd of April 2009. With her full support, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was given the opportunity to develop, execute and monitor the program.
The Malaysian-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee under the purview of the Prime Minister's Department. MIGHT is an organization built on the strength of public-private partnership with more than 100 members, both local and international involving the industry, the government and the academia. Utilizing foresight to identify technology-based industries for Malaysia in the future, MIGHT facilitates industry-government consensus building in the quest to advance high technology competency in Malaysia. For more info, visit www.might.org.my
About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.