Be the Learners Who Inherit the Future

“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.”

Reflection on the Human Condition, Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer’s words ring true like never before as our region gets engulfed in a wave of drastic political upheaval, economic downturn, vociferous demands for social change, and unprecedented technological advancement. These changes have left Lebanon and the Arab World torn between the nostalgia of our (distant) past accomplishments, and the allure of modernity and globalization.

At the beginning of a new academic year, your ability as students to keep a clear head, and wade through the chaos becomes exponentially more difficult; yet, it is equally critical to do so, for the survival and well-being of our nation depends on it. The path ahead, therefore, can take one of two forms. The first is the result of giving in to the crises we are in, and wallowing in the tragedy that we have inherited. The end result of that choice is an image of the present state we are in, and possibly worse. The second option is to dig in, commit to change the world and our circumstances, and buckle up for the ride of our lives in a journey of challenges, discovery, and small – but invaluable- steps toward a better future.

At the Modern University for Business and Science (MUBS), we have been vigilant in our pursuit of these latter higher values, working with our students, faculty, staff, and world-renowned scholars from Europe and the United States to establish a university that offers the latest in pedagogical approaches, hands-on learning experiences, modern laboratories, and access to the highest quality research. Fifteen years into our journey, we are reaping the rewards of our commitment, establishing a Research Office that is at the center of projects exploring a wide range of topics, from the role of parenting in academic achievement and social behavior (a collaboration with San Jose State University and UC Berkeley, in California), to understanding the psychology of success (in collaboration with Stanford University), the molecular mechanisms involved in motor neuron disease (with St Jude Children’s Hospital in Tennessee), and exploring the micropollutants in Lebanese water sources (in a joint project with Université d’Orléans in France), among many other projects supported by internal university funds and external grants from the European Union and the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

Along the same line of thinking, MUBS has launched the first University Community Center (UCC) in the Arab world, as a unique effort that capitalizes on the ability of an academic institution to utilize its resources, scientific capability, and human capital in the service of the community. The UCC, located in Jal-el-Dib, epitomizes everything that we stand for. In its essence, the Center is a project that bridges the creative, abstract, and scientific world of academic theory, and the concrete realities and struggles of our society. In other words, it is a commitment to the prosperity of our community through scientific and cultural engagement that benefits our society and offers our students the freedom to expand their horizons and develop their skills in the real word. Most importantly, MUBS, the Research Office, and the UCC are a chance for our students to be the explorers, adventurers, and learners Eric Hoffer so ingeniously predicts will inherit the future.

And so, I urge you to shed the past and its archaic ways, and explore the future with open eyes, through the lens of scientific research, and a commitment to face the challenges head-on, because hardships are lessons and opportunities for growth in disguise.

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