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Roles of today's college education: Professors talk Special

By Neema Tele     Sep 3, 2013 in Lifestyle
Dar Es Salaam - It has often been said that learning to learn is one of the most important life skills - but in today's world of information overload it is a truism that has grown increasingly relevant.
The production, analysis and synthesis of information are occurring at a breathtaking pace and it seems certain that this trend will only accelerate.So yesterday we asked a few professors from a range of disciplines to tell us what they think university graduation means, or should mean, in this day and age.
"I believe the information age has made the basic university education more important than ever. We can never learn it all. But university provides a unique opportunity to gain an exposure to art, literature, history, scientific principles and philosophical perspectives that become the foundation for future learning and critical analysis." Dr. Timothy Felix, professor of health law, University of Dar es salaam (UDSM).
Convocation is a pivotal or, as some would argue, threshold moment. It's a time to consider the intellectual, emotional, and social distances travelled since high school and to acknowledge the people - parents, siblings, relatives, friends, professors - who have helped us make our way. Convocation is a special time for the university too. As a community we assemble to welcome graduates and to affirm what knits us together, making us a university, not a multiversity, linking faculties and disciplines, ages and personalities. In concert we celebrate the responsible freedoms of the life of the mind. The degrees earned are much more than paper credentials, we believe.
"If the degrees conferred today are truly enabling passports, then convocation itself commissions graduates to continue on the path of reflective citizenship. Such a responsibility, using the ready and tested equipment of curiosity, alertness, and comparative analysis, promises to create a richer, because more truly democratic, society." Dr. Patricia Thomas, English professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication (UDSM).
University convocation symbolizes the beginning of a transfer of responsibilities. Managing the state of our planet will pass from my generation to today's graduates. All indications are that they are starting with an economic future that couldn't be more rosy.
This prosperity, though, has brought with it some liabilities that need to be on the radar screen. These come in the form of substantial erosion of our natural capital, which embodies the often over-looked, but fundamental, economy of goods and services provided by our environment. Some unintended consequences are that we, as human beings, now worry about finding enough drinking water to meet our needs and have the responsibility of managing some of the last great tracts of intact forest in the entire world. Human-induced global warming will be an ever-present risk that will shape all aspects of the world we live in.
"Graduates will need to combine all of their training with life-long learning to provide the broad perspective necessary' for their generation to produce an environmental, social, and economic balance sheet that you can proudly pass on to the next generation. Our planet depends on it." Dr. Stan Deus, biology professor, College of Earth Sciences (UDSM).
Dr. Margaret Simba; associate dean of science for diversity (UDSM) , College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences; "Having been involved for a number of years in programs encouraging young women into the sciences and engineering, I am particularly pleased to see many young women graduating with degrees in these fields. As I consider what today's graduates need as they move into the world of work, I think particularly of these young women.I know that during their undergraduate years at the University, they have gained technical knowledge which is second to none."
Dr. Hamis Ludovic, engineering professor, College of Engineering and Technology (UDSM); "Today's problems are so multifaceted that our graduates require both global and local perspectives to come up with solutions. It used to be that one could dig."
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