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Beyond Medicine: Difficult Dialogues 2017

By uclqjle, on 3 May 2017

Written by Ina Goel, research scholar at UCL and runs the hijra project

A public health system is a complex intersectional unit of people, institutions and resources determining the heath culture of a society. Prof. Debabar Banerjii explains health culture as  an ecological approach that allows us to analyse epidemiology, cultural perceptions, health technologies and health behaviour within a country. At the recently held Difficult Dialogues conference, I got a chance to be a part of the shifting debates on India’s health culture. My panel was on gender and health, which  looked at gendered determinants of health inequities in India. Key focuses were on issues related to gender-based violence, sexuality and access to reproductive and medical technologies.

Rudrani on Difficult Dialogues 2017 panel

As a social scientist who has spent the last seven years working with the hijra communities (trans communities known as third gender) in India, I was invited to draw on my experience of working in the field. I spoke about the gaps between the policy prescriptions and their implementation when it comes to accessing public health by the hijra communities. I got a chance to meet and interact with other experts in the field from journalism, academia and public policy that helped me strengthen my understanding in an interdisciplinary way. Difficult Dialogues gave me a platform to bring out the discrepancies between well-meaning policies and the living realities of hijra communities in India.

In April 2014, the Supreme Court of India declared that hijras be treated as the third gender. This landmark judgment gave affirmative action to hijras by adding them to the OBC (Other Backward Class) category, as a means of securing this quota. The Supreme Court further directed the Centre and State governments to urgently look into the problems faced by the hijra communities and made recommendations for providing proper medical care and separate public toilets for hijras. On one hand, the hijras are celebrated in Indian society because of their symbolism in representing several androgynous gods.  On the other hand, the hijras are often victims of sexual harassment, abuse and rape, with no laws in place capable of dealing with a hijra rape complaint. Given their socially marginalised status and the prejudices hijras face, the issue of underreporting of crimes against hijras is perhaps understandable. There is also a refusal to accommodate and acknowledge the sexual identities of hijras because there is an anti-sodomy law in practice in India. This contradiction in law means that whilst hijras can officially be recognised as the third gender, it does not allow hijras to openly come out and truly live their lives. We thus have a system that fails to recognise the felt needs of hijras.

In India, many hijras are castrated. Often, it is believed that after castration, the hijra achieves nirwana or rebirth that earns the hijra the power to bless or curse other people. However, according to the Indian Penal Code, the legality of the practice of castration is under question and there is a lack of formal guidelines issued by the Medical Council of India regarding sex-reassignment surgery. Though there are some places that offer surgery to hijras at huge costs, many hijras do not have access to those facilities or the resources to sustain them. Given this constrained situation, many hijras are forced to go to quacks and faith healers to get themselves castrated. Little academic insight exists to address the issue of violence involved in castration given the centrality of the castration operation in hijra communities and the lack of proper routes to access it. Recognising violence as a social determinant to health is critical to understanding the health needs of hijra communities in India.

Resisting violence against hijras should be the first and foremost step that the Indian government should look into. Yes, a promise for a better hijra life is essential but aiming to provide separate public toilets for hijras in a country still struggling to deal with open defecation and manual scavenging might be a little too far-fetched for immediate implementation. For better outreach and improved accessibilities, public health policy makers should recognise the relationship between the living experiences of hijras and theoretical understanding of them. The big question remains the same: How do we  ensure true equity for those who need it the most?

The theme for Difficult Dialogues 2018 is gender with the hope of finding better solutions to such difficult questions.


Photo: Rudrani (c) (hijra activist and founder of India’s first Transgender Modelling Agency)


Banerji, D (1985): Health and Family Planning Services in India: An Epidemiological, Socio-cultural and Political Analysis and a Perspective, Lok Paksh, New Delhi


UCL for Refugee Education

By Sophie Vinter, on 4 April 2017

By Wes Durdle, UCL Student Support & Wellbeing

Bucket SignBack in February, UCL Student Support & Wellbeing collaborated with UCLU Student Action for Refugees (STAR) on a major project in support of refugee education issues.

UCL for Refugee Education was a week-long programme of fundraising and awareness events across the main campus, that brought together students, staff and external organisations in support of a worthy cause.

Although it’s no longer top of the headlines as it’s been in recent years, the worldwide refugee crisis is certainly still ongoing. One sadly overlooked aspect of the crisis is education. Refugee children are often unable to access this fundamental human right, with only 50% attending primary school and only 1% going on to reach higher education.

Given that one of UCL’s founding principles is that of equal access to education for all, we felt that this issue was close to the hearts of many here at the institution.

StallWe had multiple aims throughout the week, as follows:

  • Highlight the difficulties that refugees face in accessing education
  • Raise money for the charities Edlumino Education Aid and Action for Refugees in Lewisham (AFRIL)
  • Give students and staff the opportunity to work together on an important global issue
  • Provide a platform to showcase UCL’s outstanding research on refugee issues and leading work in support of refugees in higher education, including the launch of new scholarships

To do this, we hosted a range of events, some of which were purely fundraisers, such as charity yoga classes, a charity pub quiz in the IoE and events run with the generous support of the UCLU Women’s Football Club and the UCLU Indian Society.

Overall, we raised around £1,000 for our charities, and also led a drop-off collection, which resulted in a small mountain of clothes and food being sent to refugee camps through Donate4Refugees!

Other events were informational or practical sessions around refugee issues, including a campaigning workshop with Citizens UK, a ‘craftivism’ workshop with UCLU Amnesty International Society and a film screening. Refugee storytellers and poets from the charity Hikayetna also came in to share their experiences.

CollectionIn our panel discussion, UCL academic Dr Francesca Meloni was joined by alumna Joana Dabaj from the charity Catalytic Action and Tom Martin from AFRIL to ask if we are at risk of creating a lost generation, by not doing more to support refugee education initiatives.

The research showcase that started the week saw Dr Rachel Rosen from the IoE and Nerea Amoros Elorduy from the Bartlett School of Architecture presenting their innovative research.

This was followed by Raphaela Armbruster from CLIE and Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh from Geography explaining both the important work of the Refuge in a Moving World network, which brings together researchers involved in refugee issues, and efforts to support forced migrant scholars at UCL.

ResearchShowcaseIt concluded with Lesley Hayman from the Global Engagement Office announcing £500,000 of new funding through UCL’s Access Opportunity Scholarships, to support undergraduates unable to attend university because their immigration status does not entitle them to apply for a student loan.

The week was a tremendous success, and we would like to thank all those who participated and donated. Please continue to support refugee education initiatives at UCL, and contribute to the charities and organisations above.

Difficult Dialogues 2017: A Summary

By zchah5f, on 22 February 2017

Sujitha is a UCL global health graduate and final year medical student

UCL was knowledge partner for Difficult Dialogues 2017, which attracted a wide range of speakers Over 250 people from across the world participated in Difficult Dialogues last week, exploring issues like access to healthcare, the recent India budget speech, and the intrinsic link between sociocultural beliefs and health.

To say that this is a comprehensive summary of the conference would be a disservice to the complexity of the discussions that took place in Goa.  This blog will explore three points of discussion that I believe hold significance for health not only in India, but around the world.

  1. Whose responsibility is health?

“Be proactive and responsible for your own health.  What you can do for your own health, no one else can do.” – Manisha Koirala, Bollywood actress and breast cancer survivor

Manisha Koirala’s message of taking responsibility for your health being key to disease prevention is a familiar one, for most of us know who you avoid if you eat an apple a day. My question is what if not everyone has the same access this apple? What if it is an uneven playing field? Some have orchards in their back gardens, others have to travel for days across cities to even lay eyes on an apple and some don’t even know what an apple is, let alone its significance in keeping the doctor away.

The question I’m asking is what about the role of the state, in providing education, transport, access and facilities etc, in providing the context in which individuals can then take responsibility for their health. There needs to be a balance between the onus being on the individual and the responsibility of the state in providing an environment conducive to individuals making healthy choices.

UCL Professors Monica Lakhanpaul and Marie Lall were among speakers at Difficult Dialogues 2017As Dr Aarathi Prasad, of UCL’s Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), said: “Where people live and how they live, greatly impacts their health.” Being a UCL student, I was introduced to the social determinants of health very early on in my career in a lecture by the pioneer Professor Sir Michael Marmot.  It continues to have a lasting influence on how I question and understand health.  Why don’t we look at the causes of the causes? Why is it that some people smoke more than others? How can there be a 20-year difference in life expectancy between two neighbouring towns? Looking at it from this perspective, it is not easy in the sense that there are no quick solutions. It requires multi-sectoral input. Unfortunately there is no single vaccine, no magic bullet that will provide universal health coverage. The complexity of this was touched upon by Professor Venkatapuram of King’s College London, in the opening panel discussion with the poignant question: “ How do we make for example, the minister of transport, care about health?”

  1. How do we make health a priority for policy makers?

There was a lot of discussion about the recent India budget speech, with many calls for the Indian government to increase its public spending on health and the key role of civil society and citizens in making health a priority for policy makers. This was something that came up numerous times over the three days. The role of the media in bridging this gap between policy makers and the rest of society is central to this discussion. Abantika Ghosh, journalist and writer for the Indian Express put forward her views on the relationship between health and journalism in India: “There is a huge readership for stories about scientific breakthroughs. Something that may not make it to the hospitals in the next ten years generates a lot of excitement because it is something exotic. It is like reading science fiction. On the other hand public health, which is so much more important, so much emergent a need, gets much more neglected in the media space.”

This difficulty expressed by Ghosh is unlikely to be experienced by India alone, but also shared across the world. As Dame Anne Johnson (UCL’s Vice-Dean International for Population Health Sciences) said: “The problems India facing are global problems – we all have them.”

The media has the potential to play a huge role in raising awareness of health issues among the public and also in holding the government accountable. The work of Sohini Chattopadhyay, an independent journalist, is a clear example of this. Chattopadhyay carried out an undercover investigation unearthing shocking findings about the quality of care and experiences of women during childbirth in a particular labour room in Calcutta. Whilst not quite meeting the Millennium Development Goal for reduction in Maternal Mortality, India has seen a significant decrease. As Chattopadhyay stated: “That kind of improvement is incredible, but ten years down the line, we have to talk about a little more than ‘Is the woman alive after childbirth?’ We have to start talking about qualitative experiences.”

  1. Is grassroots organisation a substitute for policy?

This was in fact a question asked by David Osrin, UCL Professor of Global Health, during the arts and health workshop. The primary aim of the summit was to collate at least one policy recommendation from each panel discussion and before presenting them to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. For me, the numerous examples of existing projects making a tangible impact on communities was at the forefront of what makes Difficult Dialogues a force for change.

UCL partners with a range of organisations in IndiaDelan Devakumar’s work crafting short films on topics like child marriage and organising screenings to raise awareness and catalyse discussion is just one of many examples.  Professor Osrin’s work in the Dharavi Slums with the Alley Galli Biennale is a beautiful demonstration of how art can intersect with community and health.  The two-year process led to an exhibition, blending art and science to share information on urban health and showcase the contribution of the Dharavi people to Mumbai’s economic and cultural life. With four themes – art, health, recycling and vitality – the Biennale invited Dharavi residents to meet, educate themselves on urban health, learn new skills, and produce locally resonant artworks that were authentic, honest and relevant.

Recently UCL partnered with Symbiosis International University to evaluate existing health, education and sanitation interventions within the Pune district. Devaki Gokhale, Assistant Professor at Symbiosis University said: “This partnership with UCL is an exhilarating experience, the sharing of ideas, thought provoking discussions, listening to the needs and concerns expressed by villagers from a different lens and, through a holistic approach, feels prolific.”

Community interventions and policy are not mutually exclusive, and nor should they be. However, there are distinct gaps where policy is far from having a real impact on people’s lives. This is the ideal space for projects like these to flourish and make a difference.

Difficult Dialogues tackled a range of health issuesAt the heart of all these grassroots projects are partnerships. Whether between institutions, or even on an individual basis. It is clear that we have a lot to learn from each other. Sneh Bhargava, India’s first female radiologist and recent director of the All India Medical Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), was a figure Ina Goel (UCL PhD student) learnt about and looked up to in school. When they met, Ina was in awe of her work as a trailblazer in the field of medicine and Sneh was fascinated by Ina’s essay on universal health care.

When health is something so clearly impacted by politics, economics, and sociocultural factors, maybe the bringing together of different perspectives and background to achieve common goals, should be an approach taken not only in the community and among universities, but also at state level. Perhaps the key is to figure out how to make the transport minister care about health after all?

What is Difficult Dialogues?

By zchah5f, on 7 February 2017

Difficult Dialogues Logo 2017In just three days, the annual Difficult Dialogues forum will kick off. This year’s collaboration between UCL and Difficult Dialogues centres around the pivotal question, ‘Is India’s health a grand challenge?’

Difficult Dialogues is a platform for change.  It is a unique opportunity to bring together a varied range of stakeholders, from experts in academia, public policy, business, international relations and civil society.  These diverse perspectives will undoubtedly fuel important debates about health in India. Our conversations will focus on the four central themes of the summit: Inequality, Gender, Universal Health Care and The Changing Burden of Disease.  Founded by UCL alumna, Surina Narula, Difficult Dialogue’s vision is to build a foundation for these difficult conversations, and translate this dialogue into impact.

The variety comes not only in the panellists and speakers but also the audience.  Rarely will you find such a range of audience members — from government officials and civil society organisations to undergraduates — being engaged in the same discussions.  The forum will take a broader look at health, examining the impact of social, political and economic factors on communities and individual wellbeing.

UCL pioneered investigation into the social determinants of health, with Sir Michael Marmot’s landmark Whitehall Study leading the way in making us rethink the way we tackle health inequalities and universal health care.  Professor Marmot, Ruth Bell and their colleagues at the UCL Institute of Health Equity continue to build this evidence base.   UCL has a strong history in being a leader for change; for example it was the first university in the UK to accept men and women on equal merit. As Dame Nicole Brewer of the Vice-Provost’s office said, “UCL’s strength in forming global partnerships lies in its expertise across a wide range of disciplines.”  Dame Anne Johnson, a UCL speaker at the summit, was the principal investigator in the first ever study that looked at sexual health behaviours, the first of its kind across the world.

Former Director of the UCL Institute of Global Health and current director of Maternal and Child Health at the World Health Organisation, Anthony Costello, did substantial research looking into interventions which reduced maternal mortality rates in rural Indian communities and one of the panel discussions will look at Better Births and choices in Childbirth.  The panel features award-winning independent Indian reporter Sohini Chattopadhay, Bashi Hazard, an Australian lawyer who is Board Director of Human Rights in Childbirth, and will be chaired by UCL’s Dr Aarathi Prasad, who is part of the steering committee for the entire summit.  The panel looking at ensuring equality and opportunity for individuals with disabilities, will be chaired by the UCL Academic lead for Difficult Dialogues, Professor Monica Lakhanpaul.  Professor Lakhanpaul has recently won funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for a project which looks at optimal infant feeding practises in rural India. The project is one of the first to be funded by GCRF which recognises world-leading research partnerships improving health in low and middle income countries.

At the heart of this bidirectional partnership between Difficult Dialogues and UCL is knowledge exchange and opportunities for collaborations that work towards the overall goal of universal health coverage.

Knowledge exchange at UCL India Voices

By zchah5f, on 27 January 2017

Words and images: Sujitha Selvarajah. Sujitha is a UCL Global Health graduate and final year medical student who will be tweeting and blogging live from the upcoming Difficult Dialogues conference in Goa, of which UCL is Knowledge Partner.

UCL India Voices academic speed dating event, January 2017As part of the UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding, UCL India Voices hosted the first ever academic speed dating event following January’s South Asia Network Meeting.

With an organisation as large as UCL, with so many departments and different research interests, the potential for collaboration is huge.  It is this potential for collaboration within UCL, particularly on global projects, that underpinned the success of the evening.  It was an ideal platform bringing together people from different backgrounds and disciplines, who share similar interests and objectives.

As Vice-Provost International Dame Nicola Brewer told attendees: “UCL’s strength in forming global partnerships lies in its expertise across a wide range of disciplines.” The evening was a huge success, with many details exchanged and prospective future collaborations being discussed.

Ina Goel, from UCL’s Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, was an organiser of the event. She said: “Often it becomes hard to break hierarchies in the academic set-up, and an event like ‘speed-dating’ becomes a fun platform not only to have multi-sectoral collaborations but also to get an opportunity to meet people which we might not otherwise get a chance to cross paths with.”

She added that the UCL Grand Challenges programme will soon be inviting applications for two small grants of up to £2,500 each to support innovative cross-disciplinary collaborations between researchers from across the university, to help build impactful partnerships with organisations in India.

Sparking conversation

IMG_0189_editedThe collaborative discussions set the scene for the upcoming Difficult Dialogues conference from 10-12 February, the theme of which asks “Is India’s Health a Grand Challenge?”

The summit is set to take place in Goa and Dr Aarathi Prasad (UCL Office of the Vice-Provost Research) who is on the steering committee, spoke about UCL’s role as Knowledge Partner.

Aarathi emphasised the importance of it not being an academic conference, but instead a forum for discussion and debate about some of the greatest issues and challenges facing universal healthcare in India.

Founded by Surina Narula, a UCL alumni, Difficult Dialogues will engage a range of stakeholders with its primary aim being to bridge the gap between policy makers and NGOs, clinicians and those on the front line.

Having paved the way as a global leader in forming the evidence base for the social determinants of health, UCL experts across different disciplines will be attending the conference and engaging in conversation that aims to spark conversation and impact policy.

Future opportunities

UCL’s South Asia Network is a forum that brings together academics working in the region to explore the current work of UCL as well as opportunities for future engagement.  Whilst there are many focus areas within the regions for UCL collaboration, such as Myanmar and Pakistan, the primary focus of the day’s activities was UCL’s involvement in India.

2017 being the year of the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence and the UK-India Cultural Exchange, also provided the ideal context for this.

UCL's Professor Monica Lakhanpaul, Professor Marie Lall and Dr Priti Parikh present their project at the January 2017 UCL South Asia Network meetingDuring the South Asia Network meeting, Narinder Kapur gave a presentation on the upcoming International Gandhi Conference. As part of the conference,  a new Gandhi scholarship has been set up by UCL, allowing five young people from India to attend the conference in the UK.  The five scholars will be selected after submitting an essay on the relevance of Gandhi in the 21st Century, and their work will be displayed at the event.

Professor Monica Lakhanpaul (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), Professor Marie Lall (UCL Institute of Education and Pro-Vice-Provost South Asia) and Dr Priti Parikh (UCL Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), updated the group on the ongoing success of their project A cross disciplinary approach to optimise infant feeding through schools and Anganwadi networks in India. They have secured funding and partnered with a number of Indian NGOs, Save the Children and local community members to develop integrated health, education and environmental interventions.  Professor Lakhanpaul highlighted trust as key to the success of bidirectional exchanges such as this one.

Knowledge Africa 2017 – Africa Unheard

By Sophie Vinter, on 13 January 2017

This year’s Knowledge Africa Day will showcase UCL research that is informed by Africa, representing a cognisant shift in position from sharing knowledge about the continent.

The half-day Africa Unheard event on Wednesday 15 February is the second of its kind, open to staff and students from across UCL including members of the Africa & Middle East Network.

Diverse speakers will explore the ideas of African thinkers, research and research methodologies informed by African perspectives and context, and research that engages with Africa and Africans (including African Diaspora) to create knowledge about places outside of Africa and about non-Africans.

Keynote speaker will be Professor Graham Harrison, Director of Postgraduate Research, Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield, who will explore the variegated ways in which discourses and imagery of Africa are transposed through acts of mediation into the milieux of British national identity.

Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & Middle East) said: “Africa Unheard will explore the idea that ‘Africa’ or ‘Africans’ are often framed as the subject of research and the point of enquiry, potentially silencing the multiple ways in which Africa informs research. It will help to build a platform for staff and students to listen, learn and engage with other ways of knowing Africa.”

Help us celebrate UCL in the Middle East

By Sophie Vinter, on 30 August 2016

The Africa & Middle East Regional Network is excited to be hosting its second regionally focussed event, this time exploring UCL’s work in the Middle East.

Following the success of Knowledge Africa in June, UCL in the Middle East will take place on Friday 16 September, between 1-5pm in Roberts 110.

There will be the chance to find out more about different initiatives and opportunities through presentations and a photo exhibition. Students are also encouraged to take part by submitting a poster illustrating their work for display.

Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost for Africa & the Middle East, said: “Knowledge Africa was a great way to bring together staff and students from across the university to share knowledge, network and showcase our partnerships. UCL has a range of innovative collaborations underway in the Middle East and we’re looking forward to celebrating them at this event.”

Register to attend on Eventbrite.


13.00 – 13.15: Registration

13.15 – 13.30: Welcome and introductions, Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu

13.30 – 13.45: Seth Anziska (via Skype), Hebrew and Jewish Studies

13.45 – 14.00: Beverley Butler / David Wengrow, Institute of Archaeology

14.00 – 14.15: Fatemeh Farnaz Arefian, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

14.15 – 14.30: Jonathan Dale, Institute of Education

14.30 – 14.45: Refreshments and poster session

14.45 – 15.00: Carlos Huggins, UCLC

15.00 – 15.15: Deborah Gill, MSEC

15.15 – 15.30: Sam Evans, UCL Qatar

15.30 – 16.15: Panel discussion: Sustainable Economic Development Post Petroleum

16.15 – 17.00: Reception

UCL-Japan collaboration on disaster management

By Sophie Vinter, on 2 August 2016

Written by Dr. Ryo Torii, Lecturer, UCL Mechanical Engineering

Students taking part in the UCL-Japan Young Challenge present during the symposiumA disaster management symposium held at UCL discussed how experience from the Great East-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 can be used to build safety systems and resilience against future crises.

Expert speakers, staff and students from both the UK and Japan shared their views of disaster management by presenting their academic, industrial and administrative activities towards building a resilient society against unpredictable disasters.

The event was created in the framework of an academic relationship between UCL and Japan that started 153 years ago, when five samurais came to study here.

Lessons from 2011 disasters

The public symposium, on 28 July, was organised by Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma (Institute of Ophthalmology) and Professor Peter Sammonds (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction).

Tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011A delegation from Fukushima prefecture, which suffered from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant problem, reported the history of their response to the disasters and recovery to date.

A strong emphasis was placed on the importance of local community and dialogue.

Hope for the future

Groups of young students – participants in the 10-day UCL-Japan Young Challenge summer school – also presented their thoughts on disasters.

Approximately 50 British and Japanese students at A-level and equivalent shared experience of intensive academic workshops and lectures, cultural and language exchanges.

They presented what they discussed in a “disaster workshop” a day earlier, demonstrating a great awareness of, and consideration for, future risk.

Continuing relationship

Professor Peter Sammonds presenting during the symposiumThe symposium was followed by a reception, opened by Prof Nick Tyler (Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), to celebrate the UCL-Japan partnership.

In July 2015, UCL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fukushima prefecture to facilitate the public understanding of Fukushima and to provide high-level educational opportunities to students in the area.

In March 2016, Fukushima prefecture government hosted 15 students and researchers from UCL and the UCL Academy, including a special visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

This recent series of events were to follow that up with a special focus on disasters and the resilience of society. This international relationship will continue and be developed even further for the future as a basis of multifaceted interaction.

Strengthening UK-India industry collaborations: UCL hosts UUKi high-level roundtable

By Sophie Vinter, on 13 July 2016

CII delegates talkingA delegation of ten top Indian CEOs met with UK higher education leaders to discuss future collaboration opportunities at a roundtable discussion hosted by UCL – part of an annual visit to the UK organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Universities UK International (UUKi).

Dame Nicola Brewer (UCL Vice-Provost International), Professor Marie Lall (Pro-Vice-Provost, South Asia) and Roger de Montfort (UCL Consulting Ltd) joined the discussions alongside university leaders from across the UK. The roundtable was chaired by Vivienne Stern, Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit.

The aim was to celebrate economic engagement between India and the UK and to highlight new business opportunities.

India is currently the third largest investor in the UK economy, reciprocated by the UK being India’s third largest foreign investor.

It also has the fastest growing GDP among large economies, supported by large-scale campaigns such as ‘Make in India‘ for manufacturing, ‘Smart Cities’ for urbanisation, ‘Clean Energy’ and ‘Digital India.’

Identifying new ways of working

Guests from UUK and CII in front of the PorticoDame Nicola spoke of UCL’s commitment to intensify its global engagement in the wake of the EU referendum and its continuing work with partners across the world to address global challenges.

The Indian CEOs expressed strong interest in strengthening their links with the UK.

Earlier this year Dame Nicola led a cross-institutional scoping visit to Pune, Mumbai and Delhi, with academics from four Faculties at UCL.

UCL academics are currently working on a number of exciting initiatives with partners in India, from improving water, sanitation and lighting provision in public toilets in Mumbai to combat gender-based violence, to using supercomputers to develop personalised medicine.

Building on potential

Lesley Hayman, UCL’s Head of Global Partnerships, said: “India is a vital partner for the UK and there is huge potential for UCL academics to share their expertise and work more closely with Indian industries in areas such as manufacturing, engineering, education and health to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“We are looking forward to visiting India again later this year to explore how we can further develop the ideas identified during the roundtable in the areas of research, capacity building and student experience.”

Knowledge Africa presents…

By ucypcbu, on 22 June 2016

Guests network at the inaugural Knowledge Africa eventThe inaugural Knowledge Africa event was held at UCL on 16 June, marking the International Day of the African Child and the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising.

The event, organised by Regional Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & Middle East) Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu and the Global Engagement Office, brought together key academics from UCL working on Africa-relevant research with a view to fostering interdisciplinary work.

A series of lectures focused on healthcare, infrastructure and social questions relevant to a number of African countries. Highlights included:

  • Deenan Pillay, Director of the Africa Centre for Population Health, presenting his vision to build the world’s leading global human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis research centre
  • How healthcare budgets may be prioritised to achieve the best outcomes for their HIV patients, demonstrated by Jolene Skordis-Worrall of the Institute for Global Health
  • Using data from the iSense programme, presented by Rachel McKendry of the London Centre for Nanotechnology, to improve disease diagnosis in rural South African communities
  • Yacob Mulugetta of the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) describing innovative methods of bringing energy to households
  • Richard Taylor of the Geography department presenting work on improving rural access to water supplies
  • Governance issues being highlighted by Michael Walls of the Development Planning Unit, who outlined the electoral challenges facing Somaliland
  • Kamna Patel defining the notion of inclusive citizenship; a concept that focuses on the most disadvantaged individuals in any society
  • Hélène Neveu Kringelbach giving an insightful presentation on the use of dance as a form of protest
  • Details of funding streams available for work in the region from Carlos Huggins of UCL Consultancy.

Dr Kamna Patel looking at the poster boardsA panel discussion raised interesting questions on the role of Western institutions in setting and delivering the African research agenda.

Attendees networked during a poster session and photographic exhibition that showcased research projects across the university.

Naomi Britton, Professional and Executive Education Coordinator at UCL STEaPP, said: “I found the event really helpful and enlightening, seeing all the different activities underway in the Africa region. It’s definitely highlighted research in different departments that we could look at partnering with in STEaPP.”