The Importance of Futures Studies to Malaysia and IIUM

The pandemic Covid-19 came as a shock to the world. Completely unprecedented, as we were all caught off guard.

Today, with social distancing as the new norm, digital onboarding is critical for most sectors of the Malaysian economy. Many businesses have been wiped out because they were unprepared for such a scenario. Those who survived were those who had adopted technologies and embedded a contactless aspect in their economic activity.

We cannot predict the future, but we can plan for it as best as we can. Test probabilities anticipate changes and line-up action plans for different scenarios. This expands our choices and facilitates informed decisions. Instead of being totally fatalistic and a mere recipient of changes.

The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) has taken concrete steps to adopt the foresight framework in its vision and planning.

Since 2018    the university is focused on becoming a human-centric organization. Its leadership is bent on developing a consciousness at reorienting the university toward serving humanity both in material and non-material forms - engaging with the community, creating an Ehsan-spiritual basis, and conveying the meaning of sejahtera (well-being) in the purpose of its existence.  Things like local knowledge, indigenous form of knowing is the future. Knowing oneself and one's society would be paramount. Decolonisation would be the mantra.  So back to values. 

The Future of Higher Education in Malaysia

Universities and schools have been hard hit globally, forced to turn to online education as the only alternative with multiple ramifications. Digitalising education has created the need to upskill and also search for suitable talents as we re-shape our teaching methods, learning experience, curricula and instruction tools. 

The impact of the Digital Economy on our education sector has just begun. Once we understand its breadth and depth, we can formalise suitable strategies and policy changes.

How do we stay ahead of the curve? How can we ensure that objectives of higher education will fulfill the needs of our stakeholders tomorrow? How can we achieve all of this in this digital age?

The Futures framework can help us answer better the questions above. And IIUM will take the lead in preparing the nation for what lies ahead.




CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE https://www.nst.com.my/educati...

IIUM ROADMAP 2021-2022




Dzulkifli Abdul Razak (or for short, Dzul) is currently the Rector of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).  He was the ‎Vice Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) from 2000-2011. He is the immediate past president of International Association of Universities (IAU), a UNESCO-affiliated organisation, based in Paris. He was the Convenor of the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development based in USM beginning 2005.   Dzul was the first Asian recipient of the prestigious 2017 Gilbert Medal.  He is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (FASc), the World Academy of Art and Science (FWAAS) and the World Academy of Islamic Management (FWAIM).

Dzul was an Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham from 2014 until August 2020, and more recently appointed Senior Advisor at Asia-Europe Institute (AEI), UM. He is also the Co-Chair of Right Livelihood College Steering Committee based at University of Bonn. 

Dzul is an Advisory Board Member, Institute of Sustainable Development and Learning, Leuphana University, Germany from June 2019‎. He was an invited speaker at 2015 Nobel Dialogue in Sweden and 2020 Nobel Prize Dialogue in South Korea scheduled in October 2021.  In October 2020, he was appointed as a member of Qatar Foundation Higher Education Strategy Advisory Panel.

The Government of Japan, in recognition of his contribution to the academic collaboration and exchanges between the two nations has conferred him “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” in September 2019.  He was conferred Professor Emeritus by USM in October 2018 in addition to several Honorary Doctorate that he has received from various international universities.

Since 1995 Dzul writes weekly Op-Ed columns for Malaysia’s dailies especially, The New Straits Times.


Prof. Dr. Ahmad Faris Ismail is a Professor and the IIUM Deputy Rector (Academic and Industrial Linkages) at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He was the IIUM Deputy Rector (Research & Innovation) from July 2009 until June 2013. He served as the Dean of Engineering from 1997 until 2009, and was also the Co-chairman of the Malaysian Council of Engineering Deans from 2007-2009. He obtained his B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, in 1988, from the University of Houston, Texas, USA, and Ph.D in Engineering from Rice University, USA, in 1993. 

Prof. Ismail received the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World’s Tribute –‘Personality Having Contributed to the Development of Islamic University Education’ in 2008. He was a Visiting Academic at the University of Southern Queensland from January until June 2014 and he was a Visiting Scientist at the Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University, Japan in 2004. He is also the Chief Editor of the IIUM Engineering Journal. He had been serving as a member of the evaluation committee for the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme, HiCoE Scheme, and the Science Fund since 2006. He served as an IDB (Islamic Development Bank) Consultant for the Development of Mussa Bin Bique University, Mozambique Master Plan in August 2003 and he also served as an IDB Consultant for the Development of an Islamic University in Afghanistan in 2018.

He has been invited as keynote speakers for various conferences and congresses in Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Sweden and Malaysia. He has conducted workshops on “Outcome-based Education (OBE)”, “Academic Self-Assessment” and “Strategic Plan and Balanced Scorecard”, and he has delivered lectures on “Invention and Innovation”, “Curriculum Planning and Management”, “Professional Ethics”, “Towards Outcome-based Education”, “CFD and Nanofluids”, and “Research Design and Instrumentation”.


Associate Professor Dr. Zulkifli Hasan is the former Dean of Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia. He is now the Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement), International Islamic University Malaysia and holds various other academic positions such as Associate Editor for the Journal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research, legislation editor for the Malaysian Journal of Shari’ah and Law, Committee on Syariah and Legal Education, JAKIM, University Arbitration Subcommittee of Inns of Court Malaysia, Committee on Syarie Lawyers, JAKIM, University and University College Act 1971 Technical Committee, Board Member of Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Sembilan, Deputy Chairman of Majlis Tatatertib dan Disiplin Universiti Malaysia, journal reviewer for numerous international refereed journals. He also sits as the board of directors of the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE), Advisory Board member of Marmara University Institute of Islamic Economics and Finance, Istanbul, Turkey and academic advisor of Dar al Hikmah College, Selangor.

Despite his many academic commitments, Dr. Zulkifli is active in community works as the Chairman of Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia Negeri Sembilan and Chairman of MYCOM4SDG. In 2013, he represented Malaysia in the prestigious Young Muslim Intellectuals in Southeast Asia Programme in Japan. He has been selected as a recipient of a 2014 grant to conduct scholarly research at Fordham University, New York, United States of America by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board through the Fulbright US-ASEAN Visiting Scholars Initiative. His book entitled ‘Shari’ah Governance in Islamic Bank’ published by the Edinburgh University Press won the MAPIM Best Publication in the category of social science in 2013. Dr. Zulkifli also received the prestigious Global Islamic Finance Award as the Upcoming Scholar 2016.


Dr. Ahmad Murad Merican is professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, International Islamic University Malaysia (ISTAC-IIUM); and heads the Institute’s Unit of Malay-Islamic Civilization. He is visiting professor with the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia (Cenpris-USM), and Senior Fellow at the Southeast Asia Research Centre and Hub, de Lassalle University, Manila, the Philippines. Ahmad Murad was the Honorary President Resident Fellows, Perdana Leadership Foundation.  He has a PhD in the history and philosophy of science; having earlier studied political science, journalism, and mass communication.

He has authored and edited 16 books on the areas of the history of social science, social and intellectual history, journalism and media studies; and colonialism and Malay society. His forthcoming books are Decolonizing Penang: The Stolen History of a Kedah Island (2021:Universiti Sains Malaysia) and Colonialism in the Malay Archipelago: Civilizational Encounters, co-editor (2020:ISTAC-IIUM). His recent work includes Revisiting Atas Angin: Reviewing the Malay Imagination of Rum, Ferringhi and the Penjajah (2019). He has written, and refereed hundreds of papers and sits on the editorial board of such journals as Al-Shajarah: Journal of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, Kemanusiaan: Journal of Humanities, Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, Asia-Pacific Media Educator, and the Journal of the Malaysia Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.

He has been interviewed by the national and international media, including The New Straits Times, Bernama, Singapore’s Media Corp, Iranian National News Agency (IRNA) and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Associated Press and Reuters. He is the President of the Malaysia Journalism Teachers Society (MJTS) and Vice-President of the Pacific-Asia Communication Association (PACA). He is a columnist with the Malaysian national daily the New Straits Times; as well as the monthly journal of comment and opinion, Dewan Masyarakat


Zarina Nalla is currently the Head of Futures Studies, Office of the Rector, IIUM.    She was previously attached to the CEO’s office of the Halal Development Industry Corporation (HDC) to assist on the strategic implementation of the Malaysia’s Halal Masterplan. She is also the Co-Founder and former Chief Operating Officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS), Malaysia.

IAIS Malaysia is the brainchild of former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The institute is essentially a think-tank that studies contemporary issues affecting communities in Malaysia, with a focus on policy research to further civilisational renewal. She played a key role in its establishment in 2007.Upon set-up, she was Chief Operating Officer of the Institute, the Managing Editor of IAIS Journal of Civilizations Studies and a Board Member of the institute.

She later focused on policy research and consultancy by becoming a Policy and Project Development Consultant with the Institute until 2011. After which she joined the corporate sector. Her experience revolved around public policy and strategy for different clients. She once led team of consultants on the formulation of Long-Term Strategic Plan for Sabah from 2016 to 2036.

Zarina has spoken on gender issues, interfaith relations and the education system in Malaysia and internationally. She represented Malaysia at the Muslim Leadership Program at La Trobe University, Australia, a 5 weeks civic education program supported by the Australian Federal Government.

Zarina earned her B.A. - First Class Honours (1994) in Islamic Studies & Political Science at The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and an M.A. (1996) in Economics & International Relations from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She further completed an M.B.A. (2002) from the University of Birmingham.


Dr. Ellisha began her scholarly journey with the Futures Episteme as the Project Editor of Universiti Sains Malaysia's 2007 Futures book project: Constructing Future Higher Education Scenarios as well as the contributor to 2007 USM's research book: 50 years of Development in Higher Education in Malaysia. Following these two publications, in 2011, she published the article, Transformative foresight. USM leads the way, in the special issues on Futures Education in the Futures. This publication was revisited in in 2018, in chapter contribution for ‘Transformation 2050: The Alternative Futures of Malaysian Universities.

Between 2010 and 2020, she has initiated impact projects working with policy makers in education sector, senior executives in critical technology sectors, collaborative inter-university academics, and social enterprises through consultancy projects/research grants from SIDA, ISIS Malaysia Malaysian Examination council, UNU-IAS, university research grants, and Graduate School of Business executive development initiatives. Amongst the key impact projects were Malaysian education’s assessment reforms, ethnic integration, ethnic pluralism, sustainable production and consumption, sustainable fisheries, social innovation, and sustainable heritage. In the last decade, as educator of learner-centred approach, she has applied the futures episteme in teaching sustainability related courses and in applied-based research, for the MBA as well as DBA programmes. 


Zainal Abidin Sanusi is currently Director, Sejahtera Centre for Sustainability and Humanity, International Islamic University Malaysia while serving as an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, Kuliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Science.  Prior to this post, he served as Minister Council (Education) at Malaysian High Commission. London. He had also served Deputy Director, Centre for Leadership Training at Higher Education Leadership Academy of the Ministry of Education Malaysia.

He has a Ph.D. in International Studies from Waseda University and an M.A. in International Relations from International University, Japan. He has also spent one-year postdoctoral study at UN University Institute of Advanced Studies doing research on the multilateral environmental agreement.

His area of academic specialization is international political economy and has a very strong interest in various issues of education for sustainable development. He has participated in several international workshop and conferences on the subject as both speaker and invited participant and discussant.

In his previous post as the Deputy Director at the Academy, Zainal had directly involved in planning, organising and delivering training program, seminar and workshop on various higher education leadership and governance matters designed for the university leaders.

He was a Visiting Professor at Graduate School of Frontier Science, University of Tokyo engaging in teaching and research on conceptual and organizational challenges in implementing sustainability science in higher education institutions.

His current research interests are Sustainability Science, Education for Sustainable Development and Public Policy Analysis.



Fazidah’s interest in Futures Studies started in 2012 when she was given the task to coordinate the preparation of her university’s Strategic Plan. It was during the period of study that she found the significance and complementarities of futures studies in ensuring a robust strategic plan. Mentored by a renowned futurist, her interest in strategic foresight and Futures Literacy extended further. Her active works in futures studies involved facilitating courses, writing books and articles for journals and bulletins. She also actively participates in international conferences and seminars where she presented plenary papers on futures studies and foresight approaches in her discourse analysis especially within the realms of higher education in Malaysia.

Fazidah teaches English as a Second Language of which she has over 30 years of experience teaching at high school and tertiary levels. She is currently attached to Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) where she teaches the undergraduate students and concurrently oversees the operations of the Chancellery Management and Relations Office where she administers areas related to among others, university marketing, media planning and relations, corporate image and branding as well as event management.

Fazidah’s passion in Futures Studies has been acknowledged by the Futures and Foresight association at the international arena where she is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists and is awarded as an Emerging Fellow 2021 by the UK Futures Observatory which is a United Kingdom-based foresight institute that operates on a global scale. She is also currently pursuing her M.Ed in Education with a focus area on Curriculum for the Future.

Fazidah views Futures Literacy and Futures Studies as mandatory requisites for a sustainable future for any nation or organization and she hopes to be able to develop futures literacy awareness in her home country, Malaysia where it has not been widely adopted yet.

Fazidah is based in Melaka, Malaysia.


Mohammad Reevany Bustami is the Head of Nusantara Malay Archipelago Research at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, USM. He graduated with a degree from Purdue University and master from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He obtained his Ph.D. from LSE in organizational and development sociology. He is also the advisor for Malindo Nusantara Research Center at Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta and at Universitas Jenderal Ahmad Yani Cimahi-Bandung.  

He has researched and spoken on trends, trajectories and transformation in Nusantara. While the main public discourse is on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Reevany has lectured on the 5IR and its subversive nature of spiritual-technological dominance.  While in the USM School of Social Sciences, he offered the very first course on futures studies at the undergraduate level in Malaysia where his students were also involved in cyber strategy to effect change in the society.  He traces the futures episteme back to Ibn Khaldun whom he has named as the Grandfather of futures studies.  With collaboration and grants from Sweden, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, he has published, carried-out research and workshops in numerous areas including trajectories of migration, CSR-sustainability, Nusantara, cyber and mobile society, religious pluralism and multi-ethnic/multi-cultural communities, research strategies as well as future studies.