Looking at the development and of the social sciences in Malaysia as a whole over the last six decades or so, it can be said with certainty that Malaysian social science scholars and Malaysianists have played an important role, in fact, a key role in providing scientific analysis and explanations of the social order as well as Malaysia’s transformation, and in advocating certain theoretical frameworks, approaches and strategies with regard to how it could and should be managed and advanced to build the society and craft the nation into what it is today, and what it would possibly in the future. Batches upon batches of social scientists have been trained in Malaysian and foreign universities who then served as academicians as well as officials in both the public and private sectors. Books, papers as well as policies and plans have been written or formulated by social scientists on Malaysian economic and social development which have important impacts on the country and even the region.
The development and transformation of societies have indelible impacts on the sustainability of various aspects of social and natural life and the livability of the habitat. Can this kind of development and transformation be sustained? Hence intense debates have taken place on sustainable development and its challenges, leading to the crafting of better refined theories, approaches, methodologies and instruments on sustainability and social inclusion, while at the global level, the United Nations has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030) as the road map for the next decade and more until 2030. While the SDGs are a broad global agenda which tend to be aspirational, they must be unpacked to suit national and local conditions, thus integrating the global to the national and the local. At the same time, in the discussion of social transformation and sustainable development, we need to bring out and highlight local concepts and experiences – derived from local wisdom and knowledge — that may serve to generate new theories, concepts and practices based on local conditions and contribute towards the corpus of knowledge of the social sciences.
Malaysian Social Science and MSC12
By the term ‘Malaysian Social Science’, we are not taking a narrow ‘nationalist’ position to mean only the social sciences contributed by Malaysian scholars. Rather, guided by the principle of inclusion, Malaysian social science means the corpus of knowledge and the tool of analysis that has been developed by both Malaysian scholars and Malaysianists irrespective of their nationality in their study of the various dimensions of Malaysia and also Malaysia in relation to other societies and countries. This means that MSC12 will consider papers on other countries provided they have reference to or comparison with Malaysia.
MSC12 will offer various discourses by distinguished speakers and panelists to enhance the corpus of knowledge and the quality of social science research which is the core business of PSSM. Sound scholarship that addresses in depth, with rigour and objectivity such important themes as sustainable development, social and ethnic diversity, as well as Malaysia’s transformation requires a transparent and enabling culture and critical discourse. In the era when unfortunately key performance indicators (KPIs) and number crunching become the rule of the game, we are fighting an uphill battle to promote quality and integrity, especially in social science research and publication, but persist we must.