By A. Hamid Saifuddin
With the pandemic not showing any sign of slowing down, we cannot turn a blind eye to another worrying matter – the five environmental concerns associated with biodiversity, water pollution, deforestation, pollution and climate change.
I, for one, am worried that I am not doing enough as an educator to raise awareness in all my students about these. Have we shared, tweeted, RT’ed and subscribed to YouTube channels enough to alert everyone that we are on the brink of massive climate degradation?
Maybe yes, but no amount of TikTok challenge can do enough justice to get everyone to move and raise interest in this issue at hand. The need now is to go above and beyond “digitally sharing” content; we now need to make it happen as the clock is ticking to the very hour of crippling hope of curing Mother Nature.
Perhaps, sometime this year, my faculty will revisit our curriculum review; this is a standard practice where faculties will perform a check and balance if the study plan is working for both the students and the faculty. How much have they carried with them the knowledge that they have acquired and whether they have put it to good use. Does this assessment work? Should we change or maintain it? Limiting or adding assignments into each subject has its consequences on both the student and the lecturer – thus, should not be taken lightly.
When we create a new subject, its chapter or the rubric, we always include friends from the industry to jump in and have their thoughts mined and considered. Great wonderful things can be created when you combine the study of media and communication with environmental conservation together.
There is a need to create a solid foundation of content scholarship where our graduates practise what they have learned within these long academic halls and not to be seen as a right of passage to fill in a worthwhile gap in your early 20s, just because society demands as such.
Looking into this, I believe that it is high time to introduce environmental conservation into our study plan. Public Relations has always been central to the creation and management of policies and the time is (more than) ripe to inculcate the conversation into the classroom.
Having to serve UiTM Mass Comm and its department of public relations for almost nine years now, I am led to believe strongly that if we don’t introduce them to an idea or knowledge, chances are they will let it wilt and be left devoid of the chance to have a say in it. This is a game I will not want to gamble with.
It would be a game changer if we could set the scene by collaborating with young scientists and/or environmentalists, as well as professionals to evoke interest in the curious but doubt-filled minds of the students. A 22-year-old science major from Harvard more or less shares the same attitude and interests of their Malaysian peers. Having to connect on the peerage aspect could be beneficial to us teachers and students alike as we are eager to get them on board, without having to pull a tighter leash on them.
We can’t change the world overnight, so my plan is to look into a subject of mine, Public Relations Writing, and rethread it into being content visible and friendly towards conservation, conversation as well as conflict-resolution narrative pieces that could lift the issue front and centre so all could take heed and be proactive about it. Nothing beats still the heart of a teacher when one sees that his young grasshopper talks about global issues with twinkle in their eyes. I have been in this industry too long to ever discount that this will somehow be a miracle of sorts.
Things change drastically (for the better) when you take a good look into the creation of a student’s study plan and try to imagine that after spending years in university, whether they can handle the pressure and capacity to operate in the real world. A sound academic plan should consider how each subject caters to the needs of the student and how they will use it when they are employed.
A good study plan can mould a graduate into a statue of a well-rounded individual with ethics and passion intact in the long run.