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Support universities for great and lasting effect, says Dr Gerald Chan at UCL

ucyow3c15 July 2016

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Written by Abigail Smith, UCL Head of Supporter Communications

Society will be short-changed if we view universities as about human resources rather than humanity, according to investor and philanthropist Dr Gerald Chan in a keynote speech at UCL.

Speaking at an event for UCL supporters and academics to celebrate the impact of UCL research and to examine the role of philanthropy in the rapidly changing higher education environment, Dr Chan declared: “This is not just a budgetary struggle, it is a struggle for the very soul of the university.”

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur, UCL Nobel prizewinner Professor John O‘Keefe and Dr Gerald Chan

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur,
UCL Nobel prizewinner Professor John O‘Keefe
and Dr Gerald Chan

The independence of universities is crucial in order to maintain the balance between their role, both as engines of the economy and places of curiosity-driven research, he added, and a philanthropic “public-private partnership” is vital to that.

“Higher education is not cheap; what is more expensive to society are the consequences of not supporting its universities,” he said. “In a democratic society, governments come and go, and government funding priorities come and go, but a properly managed endowment endures.”

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Arctic risks and rewards

ucyow3c25 June 2016

The panel at 'Development in the Arctic: Risks and Rewards'

The panel at ‘Development in the Arctic: Risks and Rewards’

pencil-iconWritten by Dr Ilan Kelman, Reader for Risk, Resilience and Global Health (UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction)

The Arctic: The last earthly frontier of adventure, excitement, remoteness, and resources! Or is it? Given that people have lived in the high latitudes for millennia, how remote, isolated, and open-for-business-for-southerners is the Arctic?

The UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction’s Arctic Research programme convened a panel ‘Development in the Arctic: Risks and Rewards’ at UCL on 8 June to discuss these questions.

To an engaged audience of about sixty, three distinguished panellists explored how climate change and technological advances might or might not be opening up the Arctic for exploitation by the world. They examined what we know and do not know about development risks and rewards in the far north.

What realities of Arctic environmental conditions are rarely described? What Arctic social and political circumstances are frequently circumvented? What about the people who live in the region who have rights and interests? The risks and rewards regarding the so-called ‘Arctic Gold Rush’ for resources and development was examined and critiqued.

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Reflecting on the IRDR Panel Discussion: Heritage and Disasters

ucyow3c23 March 2016

pencil-icon Written by Dr Farnaz Arefian, Enterprise Manager, UCL Institute for Risk and Disasters ReductionIRDR panel discussion

The UCL Institute for Risk and Disasters Reduction (IRDR) successfully held its public panel discussion on Heritage and Disasters at UCL on 9 March, discussing cultural heritage protections and how to plan for and recover from disasters.

The attendees enjoyed an interactive and thought-provoking discussion with the panelists and a drinks reception, during which attendees could network and continue their informal discussions followed the discussion.

Five panelists from academia and practice engaged in a vibrant and lively discussion on how to protect cultural heritage from disasters such as earthquakes and conflicts and it was exciting to see attendees from across the heritage sector, including museums, heritage studies and NGOs, as well as attendees from practice.

The panel included William Brown, National Security Adviser, Arts Council England; Dr Sergio Olivero, Head of Energy and Security Research Area at the Istituto Superiore sui Sistemi Territoriali per l’Innovazione (SiTI), Italy; Dr Kalliopi Fouseki, lecturer and course director for the MSc Sustainable Heritage at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage (ISH); Jonathan N. Tubb, Keeper (Head), Middle East, the British Museum.

Dr Farnaz Arefian, Enterprise Manager at IRDR and Founder of ‘Silk Cities’ Platform, chaired the panel, opening the discussion by focusing on key cultural heritage preservation questions: Why the protection of cultural heritage is important and how we can protect and enhance its resilience to disasters? What are the complexities in practice? How existing academic discourse and research on heritage and disaster risk reduction can play role in heritage resilience? How the public and private sectors can be mobilized to proactively reduce disaster risk to our cultural heritage and enhance successful recovery and/or reconstruction when it is impacted? (more…)

Why the west is defaulting on climate change action

Melissa Bradshaw25 February 2016

Climate change is an urgent challenge of global citizenship, was the message at the heart of Jonathon Porritt’s UCL Global Citizenship lecture on 22 February. Speaking from decades of experience working in sustainability, Porritt showed that the world is precariously balanced between commitment to and denial of global citizenship.

Jonathon Porritt, CBE giving the UCL annual Global Citizenship lecture. Photographer: Kirsten Holst

Porritt is Founder Director of Forum for the Future and acts as an advisor to many bodies, as well as to individuals including Prince Charles, and he is a Visiting Professor at the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity. He celebrated the Paris Agreement, the conclusion of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, as “one of the most astonishing agreements ever signed”. With 195 countries committed to limiting global warming to below 2°C, the agreement is a great source of hope and optimism. (more…)