This event was organised by IITR, to show case practices in interdisciplinary training, research and collaborations pertinent to advancement of science and technology for society transformation. The discussants made presentations on diverse topics to generate debate on the future of working beyond individual disciplines for promotion of applied science and technology.
Most prominent in the discussion was the importance of the interdisciplinary approach in solving development issues. The key note speaker at this event was Prof Fredrick Kayanja and he emphasised that the platform was an opportunity to debate the science and arts concern that has in recent times raised heated debate and so this partner’s platform is quite timely because most of the debate that is going on is very much uninformed. Also, this misconception that the sciences are better than the humanities has a historical origin; seeds of discord were sown in the beginning without realising that humanities and sciences work together. We need them both to achieve real and meaningful development. For example the social- economic domains failure of patients in the hospital is due to the failure to marry arts and sciences and it is the same reason why health workers trying to curb the Ebola epidemic are being murdered in West Africa. Medical students in their community work have found out that over 30% of people in village hospitals have an STD. The social economic domain is the backbone for sealing this gap.
He also emphasised on the gender issues in Uganda and how they are still a big problem and a hindrance to development in this country. And while there is political resistance from authorities above, we must approach how we deal with these problems quite tactfully and differently.
The Director of the Institute of inter-disciplinary Training and Research Dr. Viola Nilah Nyakato made a presentation about harnessing inter disciplinary approaches for transformative development. She stressed the need for interdisciplinary approaches and studies because the realities of this world are faced with growing complexities and the solutions require flexible arrangements for comprehensive perspective as well as effective decision making. She also talked about what is done here at the Institute of Interdisciplinary Training and Research, the mission and vision of the Institute and how these are being achieved wherein she talked about the courses, projects and researches that are being done at IITR.
Mr Vincent Operemo a planner from National planning Authority. Made a presentation about the National Development Plan: Uganda’s Vision 2040: harnessing agricultural opportunities where he talked about where Uganda is now, and where we want to be in 2040 in all the different sectors in the economy, agriculture, transport, Oil and gas, minerals, tourism, education, especially higher education, research and so on. He said that Higher education in Uganda is lacking and hasn’t been given much attention and so commended the Institute for their efforts.
Students from the institute of interdisciplinary training and research had a chance to share their experiences with interdisciplinary studies. Again, they emphasised that societal problems are complex and cannot be solved by a single discipline. Environmental, gender, and community issues have different route causes and different solutions by different stakeholders from different sectors and so them working together (interdisciplinary approach) gives a wholesome solution to the problem.
Professor Edward Wamala then made his presentation on interfacing social sciences: the philosophy of methods. Therein, he talked about knowledge and knowledge generation and how in this day and age, universities cannot claim to be the authors of knowledge, and so they should work with other entities to generate knowledge. He however emphasised the importance of ethics amidst emerging technologies as well the importance of patent rights in research because Universities are not working as solo partners anymore, communities, organisations, as well as funders are being involved. He concluded that interdisciplinary studies are very important because, what can we know about physics from physics alone, its only comes alive when it’s put to use in the community.
Mrs Neema Murembe a lecturer at IITR gave a presentation on taking stalk of women’s empowerment policies and gender research in Uganda. In which she defined empowerment as giving people capabilities to have power or using exposure/power to make decisions that affect them. And as far, as achieving empowerment has come while UPE, USE, affirmative action and so much else has been put in place, we yet have a long way to go and women empowerment is still a vision rather than a reality.
The final presentation was made by Mrs. Immaculate Tumuhimbise also a lecturer at IITR. Immaculate made a presentation on the community twinning program and how it enhances transferable practical skills to students and how it acquaints students with community life, community work, attitude development and self-appreciation. This project brings the students face to face with how to deal with community issues head on.
Concluding remarks were made by the RDC, who thanked IITR and the university at large for their tireless efforts, for the very educative and informative event and for not giving up on promoting the arts. He emphasised that students from Mbarara University have made a name to be reckoned with because of their good quality because of the university’s commitment.