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Ask GEO: Rachel Hall, Senior Partnership Manager (Americas)

By Sophie Vinter, on 29 November 2017

Rachel Hall is GEO’s Senior Partnership Manager for North and Latin America.

Q: Tell us more about your role and activity in your regions.

A: I joined GEO in August 2017 as Senior Partnership Manager for North and Latin America. Previously I was working at the Faculty of Population Health Sciences. My background is in Latin American studies and I studied an MA at UCL Institute of the Americas. My role is to develop and manage partnerships in the Americas region and a key focus is to try and map all of the collaboration that exists at UCL within North America and Latin America.

My main focus at the moment is an emerging partnership with the University of Toronto which is developing well, and facilitating different activities under this partnership. Recently we announced the winners of the first UCL-UofT funding stream, which will support some great projects in the areas of child health, education and cities, among others.

I’m also looking at building on the existing links we have with Yale and NYU. In Latin America, we are focusing on Mexico and Chile and supporting our partnership with Santander Universities and the many schemes offered under our agreement with them, such as the Research Catalyst Awards which will open next month.

Q: How are you finding the role?

A: I think the Global Engagement Strategy is great for UCL and I like how the GEO team is constantly reviewing our work, which is the nature of working with partners. We’re looking at the implementation and evaluation of our strategy and I think partners appreciate success stories and case studies of our work together – a good example of this is our ongoing partnership with Santander Universities. In my first month GEO welcomed the CEO of Santander to an event celebrating ten years of our partnership. It’s nice to now be working across the university in the full range of subjects too.

Q: What’s top of your to do list at the moment?

A: In January Provost will be welcoming the President of the University of Toronto to discuss the development of our partnership, so I am currently preparing for that. We recently set up a UCL-UofT working group that meets termly to oversee activities as we develop how we work together.

In Latin America, we’ve just announced that Dr Deepak Kalaskar (UCL Biomedical Engineering) is a successful recipient of the the UK-Mexico Visiting Chair Scheme, which offers UCL academics a great opportunity to develop links in Mexico. He’ll be collaborating with the Autonomous University of Nuevo León.

I’m always mapping more collaborations in both regions and actively pursuing leads – so if you are a UCL academic collaborating in the Americas, please get in touch as I’d love to hear about your work!

Q: How can academics find out more about UCL activity in the regions?

A: I work closely with UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provosts for North and Latin America, Professor Brad Karp and Professor Alejandro Madrigal, to develop our regional networks.

For Latin America we’re planning to hold a meeting in January to discuss new ways we can harness our shared interest in the region to leverage funding. I’d be really keen to hear from any UCL academics who are currently collaborating in Chile and Mexico as a priority. We’re also looking to broaden our partnership with Yale University and will be reaching out to the academic community over the next few months, to see where potential opportunities lie.

Q: Can you tell us a fact about either region that may surprise people?

A: Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon is visiting the New York Metropolitan Museum next year, as part of some work being led by UCL Culture and OVPD!

Why I’m proud to be a UCL student making a difference on the world stage

By Abdul Elmi, on 27 November 2017

UCL student Abdul Elmi at the One Young World summit, ColombiaGrowing up, I never imagined that at the age of 21 I would be given the opportunity to fly to Colombia to join the likes of Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof, and others to debate how we tackle world issues. Yet, a month ago I was honoured to represent not only the United Kingdom but also UCL at the ‘One Young World Summit’ in Bogotá, Colombia.

As the first generation of diaspora, born in the UK but with parents from Somalia, I feel well placed to represent the reconciled interests of both my motherland and my country of birth, and I enjoyed sharing my experiences with a similarly diverse group of people.

Championing the need for support of minority voices was one of the key messages I took from the summit. Sir Bob hailed the next generation as the key to solving global issues, while Denise Young Smith, Apple’s Vice President of diversity and inclusion, impressed the need for young people to have a role model. They certainly hit the nail on the head.

Mentoring has made a real difference to me so I was thrilled to hear these inspirational voices talk about the value this can add to someone’s life. Having access to the support of community groups such as Bright Education Centre combined with sheer dogged determination lead me to the successes I have achieved so far.

I now work as an Outreach Manager for Bright Education Centre to encourage others to achieve their aspirations, by running educational workshops and coordinating university advice days. Crucial to this communal effort is providing young people with opportunities to maximise their potential, and provide alternatives to the culture of crime prevalent in so many London boroughs.

It is equally important to harness our fortuity to help those abroad. Just recently Somalia was hit with the most fatal attack in the country’s history. A truck bomb planted in the centre of Mogadishu claimed the lives of over 350 men, women and children with hundreds seriously injured. The scale of the attack makes it one of the worst terrorist attacks in the world. Rescue workers said a definitive death toll may never be established because the intense heat generated by the blast meant that the remains of many people will never be found.

Somalis are resilient against violent extremism. But this is different. Everyone in the city has lost someone or knows someone who was injured. Some of those who died were described as the breadwinners; as a result, many families are suffering. Two weeks ago, I led a fundraiser and I made a pledge along with many other young people that evening. I pledged to not only stand with those suffering at the hands of this horrendous attack but to also raise £1000 for the cause. The amount I raise will go towards African Relief Fund, a charity on the ground helping the sufferers recover from the attack.

So please join me in my attempt to help the victims of this senseless attack. Please share the following link and donate: https://www.gofundme.com/bvxx9p-mogadishu-attack-appeal 

It’s not an easy fact to acknowledge, but the truth is that millions of people across the world are looking to us for assistance. And although some may feel like our contributions could never be as far reaching as to impact those on other continents, I demand you rethink.

This collective effort requires individuals from every age, race, ability and walk of life. I am fully aware that the capabilities of any individual is limited, but as long as we unite as one, there is no difficulty we cannot overcome.

Abdulkadir Elmi | @abdulelmi

Explore GEO’s new interactive data dashboard

By Alejandro Moreno, on 24 November 2017

My role in the Global Engagement Office (GEO) involves mapping UCL’s collaborations around the world, to help us tell our global story better. But as you can imagine at a university of UCL’s size, this is no mean feat!

Thanks to the work of the many academics collaborating internationally who have shared details of their work with GEO, we’ve been able to compile an interactive dashboard showcasing some of this activity.

You can take a look around the dashboard, created in Tableau public, here.

The motivation behind this new resource is to show the collaborations that GEO is aware of UCL having in certain countries. It is arranged by UCL faculty.

For example, let’s say we want to use the dashboard to find out what collaborations UCL has in Brazil.

We just select ‘Brazil’ on the right hand side, then we can see in the matrix below the map the faculties and departments that collaborate in Brazil, while in the rows we’ll see the Brazilian institutions that we collaborate with, as shown in the image here:

Picture1We can see that GEO is aware of UCL’s School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS) in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities having a collaboration with the “Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation.”

Picture2

Another way the dynamic dashboard can be used is by navigating by Faculty. For example, let’s have look into Brain Sciences. If we select the faculty on the left hand side, we can can see the location of their collaborations:

Picture3
We’re keen to keep this dashboard as up to date as possible, so if you are a UCL academic collaborating with colleagues overseas and you can’t find your work listed here, please contact me and we can add this in.

UCL student opportunity: visit Fukushima in 2018

By Sophie Vinter, on 14 November 2017

Delegates at the 2016 UCL visit to Fukushima PrefectureUCL students with an interest in Japan can apply for a fully-funded opportunity to visit Fukushima during January 2018.

Fukushima Prefecture, with whom UCL has a longstanding collaboration, is inviting two students from any discipline to join a ten-strong delegation to visit from 15-21 January. Delegates will include staff from UCL’s Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, EPICentre and UCL Academy.

Students can find out more about the opportunity at a Q&A session with Professor Shin-ichi Ohnuma, UCL’s Japan Ambassador, on 24 November 2017 at 12.00-13.00 at UCL’s Confucius Institute (15 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0NS).

The prefecture will fully support the UCL team visit, including the cost of air fare, accommodation, meals and in-country travel.

The successful students will be asked to contribute social media and blog posts about their experiences while they are in Japan, as well as taking part in a group presentation about the visit.

Active collaboration

Tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011The Japanese islands face an extraordinary range of natural hazards – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, landslides and tropical cyclones.

In 2011, East Japan suffered from a huge earthquake and tsumani, which killed many people along the coastline. The tsumani affected the Fukushima Nuclear power plant, which resulted in wide-level contamination by radiation. Many people in Fukushima are still suffering from this damage.

UCL decided to contribute to the recovery of Fukushima and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fukushima Prefecture in 2014.

How to apply

Students can attend the Q&A session on 24 November for further information about the visit.

To apply please email the below details by 2 December 2017 to Sofia Shamim in UCL’s Global Engagement Office with the subject title “Fukushima Fieldwork and Visit – YOUR NAME”.

  • Your full name
  • Status (staff/Phd student /MSc student) and stage
  • A one-paragraph biography
  • A one-paragraph research or study proposal
  • A one-paragraph impact statement.

Please also indicate:

  • Whether your passport has a visa requirement for entry to Japan
  • If the visit will contribute to your PHD/MSc research or your undergraduate study
  • Your level of Japanese language (although this is not a pre-requisite).

Please note students need to obtain permission from their course organisers.

Supporting policy development and education practices in Myanmar

By Annelise B Andersen, on 13 November 2017

Ministry of Education officials in Nay Pyi Taw with UCL’s Prof Marie Lall and Jonathan Dale after the workshop

Ministry of Education officials in Nay Pyi Taw with UCL’s Prof Marie Lall and Jonathan Dale after the workshop

This past summer, Professor Marie Lall, UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provost for South Asia, travelled to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, with Jonathan Dale from UCL Institute of Education’s London Leadership Centre.

In Yangon they delivered a two-day workshop on school leadership to 90 head teachers from the state, monastic, ethnic and private sectors. A few academic colleagues from Yangon and Mandalay University, as well as some teacher trainers from teacher education colleges, also attended. The Myanmar partner ‘Smile Education’, a local NGO, arranged for participants to come from across the country including some remote and conflict-affected areas.

In Nay Pyi Taw Professor Lall and Mr Dale delivered a one-day workshop on policy development to 18 Ministry of Education (MoE) officials. All were senior civil servants, most holding the post of director general of their departments. After the workshop, they were asked to do an interactive briefing with government MPs sitting on the education select committees of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.

Professor Lall said: “Myanmar is in a reform phase and there is a great need for capacity building at government level. I have worked with different stakeholders across the board for over a decade. However, I have never worked directly with the MoE till now and it’s unusual to have access to the heads of all departments of one ministry. The event was a resounding success.”

Since the country opened up in 2012, it has been awash with aid agencies and universities who offer help and capacity building. However, UCL’s advantage is that Professor Lall has worked in the country since 2004/5 and therefore has a reasonably good understanding of the needs that arise out of the reform process within the field of education. “UCL’s unique position can be different in that we meet actual needs without trying to impose programmes that have little relevance to the complicated local context,” added Prof Lall.

As a consequence of this activity, Professor Lall and Mr Dale recently won a new £150,000 British Council grant focused on ‘Supporting the Transformation of Higher Education in Myanmar’.

These efforts are part of UCL’s growing engagement with Myanmar that aims to build capacity across the public sector as the country continues its reform process.

If you would like to learn more about UCL’s work in Myanmar, please contact Professor Lall at m.lall@ucl.ac.uk.

UCL Institute for Global Prosperity launches new online course: Global Prosperity Beyond GDP

By Guest Blogger, on 10 November 2017

UCL The Bartlett’s first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) starts on 20 November. “Global Prosperity Beyond GDP” explores the need for a post-GDP approach to economies.

By Patrick Vickers, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

DSC_0510_Credit Lensational‘Global Prosperity Beyond GDP’ is a free online course, led by Professor Henrietta Moore and featuring other experts in prosperity and New Economics such as Tim Jackson, Kate Raworth, and others. It examines the problems with our current economic mind-set, and sets out a different approach, which focusses on inclusive, sustainable prosperity as opposed to growth as the model for progress.

Why is now the time to ask these questions?

UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy shows that UCL can use its unique position and reach to tackle global challenges, and try and build a better future. But part of “co-creating wise solutions to enduring and emerging global problems and Grand Challenges” must also be ensuring that the very way we think about economics and conceptualise economic success is leading us to a good future.

Economic growth – quantified by rising Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – has been the main guide for our governments since its inception in the 1930s. But with the challenges we face today, is it still the right tool to guide us towards a prosperous future? Is it putting us on the path to success?

As we look ahead at the next several decades, we should be under no illusion that that there is a crucial period for humanity ahead – possibly the most crucial. This may sound hyperbolic, but consider these two facts:

  1. The population is set to hit 10 billion by 2050 – That’s over a 40% rise on the current population and means a massive increase in demand on resources.
  2. To meet the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement and stay within 1.5°C, the global economy needs to be carbon neutral by 2050 – This is not a baseless target – it exists because further warming would compromise natural stores of greenhouse gasses, and set global warming spiralling out of control, and ending benevolent climate that has made modern life possible.

In this context, it’s clear that the main challenge of the 21st century is meeting the needs for all within the means of the planet.

Ironically, the economic logic that created the unfathomable jumps in standard of living for most of humanity in the last couple of centuries will prevent future generations from flourishing if it is not adapted. Expansion and growth for the sake of it can no longer be the main target for countries.

We now know that we are in the Anthropocene. That means that the economic decisions we make today determine what life will be like hundreds of years down the line. Huge responsibility to think conscientiously about the economic mind-set we have so far relied on.

Our old methods of economic guidance need to be re-examined. GDP was first created to help measure the recovery of the economy from the Great Depression. It was kept because it was a useful war-time tool for measuring the capabilities of the economy. In short, it reflected the challenges of the early 20th century. But if we are going to meet the challenge of the 21st century, we may need to think differently.

Global Prosperity Beyond GDP does this, proposing new, prosperity-based measures, and shows how people are already making a start in changing out economic activity for the better.

Image credit: Lensational

Neuromarketing goes global

By Guest Blogger, on 10 November 2017

By Joe Devlin, UCL Experimental Psychology, Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences

When John Hogan and I began running Neuromarketing Workshops we received a noticeably cool reception from colleagues.  To most neuroscientists, “neuromarketing” epitomizes the worst of pseudo-science and is used to exploit unsuspecting companies.  But business leaders are genuinely interested in what neuroscience and psychology can offer them and they naturally want to take advantage of the latest scientific knowledge.  Where can they go to get accurate, unbiased information? UCL’s reputation as a world-leading research institution provided the perfect opportunity to uniquely meet this need and deliver global impact.

John and Joe hosting workshopWhen we began, we assumed that our workshops would primarily attract people from marketing companies around London.  In fact, there was much wider interest than we anticipated.  Over the last two years, our participants have come from a range of industries beyond marketing, including retail, fashion, publishing, finance, and government.  In addition, they came not only from the UK but also from Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE and the USA. Being based in the heart of London clearly appeals to a wide audience, many of whom are willing to travel considerable distances to attend.

Fostering marketing and neuroscience collaborations in Brazil

This year we had an opportunity to run a series of seminars and workshops on a two week trip to Brazil, organized through UCL Consultants (UCLC).  In São Paulo we spoke to business leaders about the appeal of neuromarketing and its potential for improving our understanding of consumer decision making.  In Rio de Janeiro we spoke at the government’s House of Business, where we discussed how even micro-to-small sized enterprise can benefit from neuromarketing (and crucially, how to avoid neuromarketing snake oil).

John and Jo speaking at University of Central Brazil (UniCEUB)Finally in Brasilia, we were hosted by the University of Central Brazil’s (UniCEUB) marketing school to speak with faculty and students.  There we focused on the science behind neuromarketing and the need to foster stronger collaborations between marketing and neuroscience in order to further develop the field.

In all three cities, we ran in-depth two-day workshops that fleshed out these concepts, provided case-study examples (of both good and bad neuromarketing), and engaged participants with hands-on learning activities.  Ultimately about 70 people attended the workshops and another 150 came to the lectures.

Building partnerships through engagement and enterprise 

For us, the workshops are both exciting and slightly terrifying as we are often challenged to apply the research we discuss to real-world situations on the spot.  On the plus side, this has led to new industry-funded research projects.  Following our Brasil trip, we are now in discussions with two large, international companies about how they can use consumer neuroscience to understand their customers better.

In our experience, these types of opportunities provide access to new research questions, novel (and rather large!) data sets that go beyond anything we could collect in the lab, and unique opportunities for students to apply their knowledge towards solving real-world problems. We were also invited by Brazil’s small business association to help them co-create content about neuromarketing to share with businesses throughout the country via the Sebrae Corporate University.

In a recent Vice-Provost View in The Week@UCL, Dr. Dame Nicola Brewer (Vice Provost International) revealed that the Global Engagement Office has made substantial progress delivering on our Global Engagement Strategy (GES) goals with an investment of less than half a percent of UCL’s overall expenditure.  Building partnerships through engagement and enterprise also helps to meet our GES objectives, while at the same time generating revenue and novel research opportunities.

UCL film collaboration in India featured at Bloomsbury Festival 2017

By Jason Lewis, on 20 October 2017

Bloomsbury Festival is is a five-day celebration of the area’s pioneering creativity. A recent collaboration between UCL’s Theo Bryer and Rebecca Wilson and partners in India was among work featured at this year’s festival, which ran from 18-22 October.

UCL Institute of Education’s Theo Bryer and Rebecca Wilson ran drama and filmmaking sessions with young people in and around Bengaluru for two weeks in July 2017, as part of a project supported by the UCL Global Engagement Funds.

Theo and Rebecca meeting with meeting Ms Kalpana Singh (L), head of Parikrma Humanity Foundation

Theo and Rebecca meeting with meeting Ms Kalpana Singh (L), head of Parikrma Humanity Foundation

They collaborated with Sangam, a local education centre, and worked with young people from Parikrma Humanity Foundation School, Delhi Public School and Baale Mane girls’ home.

Together the team ran a series of workshops, developed for groups of thirty, after which the participants were invited to produce short films in small groups.

Lecturer Theo and ICT Teaching Support Analyst Rebecca said they were particularly interested in finding out how approaches to filmmaking using iPads worked in these very different contexts.

“We were given a very warm reception in all our partner organisations” said Theo. “Sharing ideas with the incredible teachers, educationalists and young people that we met was a highlight of this trip.”

Filming a Melodrama at Parikrma Humanity Foundation School

Filming a Melodrama at Parikrma Humanity Foundation School

Students at Parikrma Humanity Foundation made melodramas based on the stimulus of the arrival of a letter.

At Delhi Public School, they made documentaries based on the model of the AJ+ news items (made by Al Jazeera) that are designed for social media.

At Baale Mane girls’ home, the older girls made melodramas and the younger girls, horror films.

Theo and Rebecca also made three films with a group of homeschooled children based in the local area.

“We were struck by the way in which the visual and cultural aspects of filmmaking facilitated this creative endeavour, so that even the youngest children were able to understand what was expected of them,” added Rebecca.

Filming a documentary about skirt length at Delhi Public School

Filming a documentary about skirt length at Delhi Public School

The outcomes of the project were largely positive. Theo noted: “The touch-screen technology proved as accessible in India as in our projects in the UK, although not all the children have ready access to this kind of technology – not all of them own phones, for example.

“All the young people seemed motivated by the opportunity to share what they had made with their peers, carers and teachers and this awareness of a final audience helped them to shape their work in specific ways.”

Filming a horror film at Baale Mane girls’ home

Filming a horror film at Baale Mane girls’ home

Theo said a total of 24 films were made.

“One of our favourites, Perceptions, is 36 seconds long.

“We suggest that you watch Valuables, Perceptions and The Mummy 2 as examples from each of the places that we worked in.”

 

Small world, big experiences: exploring student mobility at UCL

By Jason Lewis, on 19 October 2017

This week, the Study Abroad team is running its annual Study Abroad Fair, celebrating the breadth and variety of UCL’s outward mobility opportunities and encouraging students to take full advantage.

UCL has exchange agreements with over 250 institutions in 40 countries across five continents, including 48 of the world’s top 100 universities.

Data compiled by GEO’s Strategic Data Manager, Alejandro Moreno, indicates that in 2016, UCL students participated in outward mobility experiences in destinations ranging from Los Angeles, California to Avarua, New Zealand.

The map below highlights the cities where these experiences took place:

Cities where UCL students have participated in an outward mobility experience

UCL Study Abroad also provides students with different exchange and mobility options. This pie chart shows the percentage breakdown of student mobility in 2016 across the various types of mobility available.

 percentage breakdown of student mobility in 2016 across the various types of mobility available

UCL students who have participated in an outward mobility opportunity – whether spending a year at a prestigious American university or a couple of months excavating historic sites in Israel – have recommended it as an extremely worthwhile experience.

Here are a few student testimonials.

Alexandra Willems, Law

“There is something very heartening about travelling halfway across the world and still finding people to complain about Eduroam with, in whatever language that may be.”

Alexandra Willems in ShanghaiAlexandra Willems was one of six UCL students to join the summer Study China Programme 2017 – an immersive three-week Mandarin Chinese programme.

Reflecting on her experience, Alex said: “The main aspect of the trip that has stayed with me was the high level of organisation. There was a clear system of support, as well as a timetable and a placement test for the Mandarin Chinese Advanced Level speakers.”

students and monks during temple visitShe added: “The programme included an afternoon of seeing the main sites in Shanghai, including the Bund, People’s Square and the Shanghai Museum, but much of our free time allowed us to explore our own personal interests in the city. My favourite place that I visited this time was the little-known underground Propaganda Art Museum, legally allowed but only in a restricted location”

“In all, the Study China Programme is an amazing opportunity that is organised to a very high standard. Many thanks to all those involved in making it the insightful and educational experience that it was, and I am only saddened that I cannot do it again. Someone else will have to live that experience for me in future programmes, and what a lucky one they will be.”

Eshitha Vaz, Population Health

“The course has shifted and tilted my perspectives as to what it means to be a student.”

Eshitha surfingEshitha Vaz was awarded one of the Study Abroad tuition fee free places at the University of Sydney.

At the University of Sydney, she got the chance to study Aboriginal Culture and History. Speaking on the impact of the course Eshitha said: “I feel I have become more culturally literate in the process and more aware of socio-political currents which have enhanced my career aspirations in turn.”

On her time in Australia, Eshitha added: “Certainly, the personal highlights of the time I spent in Australia were the friends I made and the places I got to visit. As recommended by our programme, I participated in a three-day ‘Surf Camp’ at Seven-Mile Beach in New South Wales where I learned how to surf. It was here that I formed my best friends throughout the trip, some of whom were studying at different Universities and schools in Sydney.”

“The landscape and natural beauty of Australia is undeniably powerful which is why I was so grateful that our timetable facilitated exploration. Two of my closest friends and I took a flight to Cairns, Queensland on a weekend and managed to go scuba diving and snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef: one of the seven ‘Natural Wonders’ of the world and the world’s largest coral reef – an experience of a lifetime.”

Moiz Paracha, Chemical Engineering

“From Penguin Colonies to roaming through the Hout Bay, there is so much to do.”

moiz paracha in cape townMoiz Paracha was part of the first UCL outward mobility experience to the University of Cape Town, where he joined the Sustainable Water Management in Africa course.

On his time in South Africa, Moiz said: “This was honestly an amazing experience, not just on an educational level but also on a personal one. The willingness and desire they have to genuinely make a change to the country is really what caught my attention. The experience, in general, is very eye-opening. The type of new people you can meet and the calmer pace of life is a great cultural experience.”

Reflecting on the landscape, he added: “The beauty of the country is phenomenal. Overall if you’re even vaguely thinking about applying, go do it because it’s something you won’t regret.”

To find out more about what opportunities are available to you and to read more student testimonials, visit the UCL Study Abroad website and follow them on Twitter @UCLcares.

Data visualisations courtesy of GEO’s Strategic Data Manager, Alejandro Moreno

UCL-HKU collaborations offer solutions to the world’s Grand Challenges

By Guest Blogger, on 25 September 2017

By Greg Tinker, Communications Manager, Office of the Vice-Provost (Research)

A new partnership between UCL and Hong Kong University (HKU) was established during academic year 2016-17 to encourage joint research relating to the UCL Grand Challenges.

The joint scheme encourages cooperative projects on pressing global issues, as identified by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Its highlighted priorities include urbanisation and sustainable cities, healthy ageing, global health, translational medicine, food and water safety and security, transformative technology, transcultural studies including China studies, and justice and equality.

UCL’s Grand Challenges programme – addressing Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Cultural Understanding, Human Wellbeing, Transformative Technology and Justice & Equality – provides an inter-institutional strategic framing for the joint scheme.

The first awards were made in April this year, to two projects:

  • ‘Writing in the City’ – to Professor Li Wei of the Culture, Communication and Media department at the UCL Institute of Education, collaborating with Professor Adam Jaworski at HKU’s School of English
  • ‘Non-pharmacological interventions in dementia’ – to Dr Aimee Spector, of UCL Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, collaborating with Dr Gloria HY Wong and Professor Terry YS Lum of HKU’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration

Dr Spector has already begun work on her project, focusing on treatments like Cognitive Stimulation Therapy for dementia sufferers. The collaboration will result in a conference in Hong Kong to be held in December, featuring presenters from China, Hong Kong, the US, New Zealand, Italy, Brazil and Denmark. It will also include CST training for attendees from around the world.

The joint UCL – HKU team has also been working on a joint publication, involving a systematic review of Mindfulness-based interventions for people with cognitive impairment. The collaboration has built a close relationship between Dr Spector and her HKU counterparts, leading to exchanges of doctoral students between London and Hong Kong. The students will benefit from working and studying abroad and their engagement will hopefully lead to further joint publications.

Dr Ian Scott, Director of the UCL Grand Challenges and cross disciplinary development, said: “It’s good to know that the first projects in UCL’s joint scheme with Hong Kong University are making great progress. At UCL we are confident that there will be strong downstream research and societal benefits from bringing UCL and HKU researchers together to address globally significant issues from London and Hong Kong perspectives.

“The HKU-UCL joint scheme holds promise to be an important model for other international strategic partnerships between UCL and other world-class universities like HKU, framed by a mutual determination to harness the best expertise in the world in actions designed to prepare now for the challenges of the 22nd  century.

“While the 2016-17 UCL-HKU projects are still in progress, we look forward to the outcome of the current call for the next proposals for joint work in academic year 2017-18, to support further high quality joint initiatives in tackling and finding novel pathways to solutions to the world’s Grand Challenges.”