NILAI – Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) has entered into a significant 3-year Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, hosted at the University of Victoria (UVic) in Canada, and the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PriA) based in India.

The primary objective of this collaboration is to support the establishment of the UNESCO Knowledge for Change (K4C) Regional Centre for Asia, which will be headquartered at USIM.

Through its Mizan Research Centre (MRC) within the Faculty of Leadership and Management (FKP), USIM will spearhead a Mentor Training Program (MTP) focused on teaching and training in Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) across the Asian region.

Additionally, USIM will conduct a series of training sessions on Knowledge for Change (K4C), an International Consortium for Education in Community-Based Research (CBR), in partnership with local organizations, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), government departments, and higher education institutions. These efforts are geared towards equipping students, especially in Asia, with valuable knowledge and skills.

USIM and UNESCO will jointly recognize successful participants by awarding certificates in Knowledge for Change (K4C) and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR). Furthermore, they will collaborate to facilitate the establishment of new K4C Hubs in Asia, promoting a global network of talent in community-based research.

Associate Professor Dr. Mahazan Mutalib, the Principal Investigator of the Mizan Research Centre, expressed that this MoA signifies UNESCO’s acknowledgment of USIM as a regional training center for nurturing global talents in community-based research.

“USIM’s commitment to bridging the gap between universities and civil societies in knowledge production is pivotal, aligning with its focus on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) alongside its K4C partners on both local and international fronts.”

“ USIM is proud to serve as the base for UNESCO’s activities in Knowledge for Change, a program that champions equal opportunities for knowledge production by higher education institutions and community members, including indigenous communities,” he added.

On a broader scale, the international UNESCO K4C Consortium encompasses more than 30 hubs located worldwide, including Canada, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In 2024, UNESCO designated three regional centers: USIM as the UNESCO K4C Regional Centre for Asia, Gulu University for Africa, and the University of Ibagué, Colombia, for the South America Region. Each of these centers will provide formal academic courses in Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and engage in various K4C initiatives, such as participating in UNESCO Knowledge Democracy programs and Open Access initiatives under UNESCO’s leadership.

The international UNESCO K4C Consortium’s overarching goal is to promote Knowledge Democracy and identify future talents in community-based research, not only among university academics but also among civil society leaders, activists, and community champions at large.

USIM’s Mizan Research Centre (MRC) has been an active member of the UNESCO Knowledge for Change (K4C) network since 2017, having signed two MoUs with the UNESCO Chair in 2019 and 2022. The MoU also involves several local community organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as the International Youth Centre (IYC), which has gained recognition as an International Residency Centre for the Knowledge for UNESCO Change (K4C) Initiative, Malaysia Youth Council (MBM), and Malay Agricultural Settlement (M.A.S) of Kampong Bharu, Kuala Lumpur.