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“We can’t make a perfect world, but we can build a better one”: Bill Clinton inspires UCL’s global citizens in California

By Rachel P Corcoran, on 29 April 2016

UCL students Naomi Poyser, Mujavid Bukhari and Francisco Cordoba Ortalora at CGI UThree UCL students were selected from amongst hundreds of applicants to travel to San Francisco and attend the ninth Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) conference at the University of California, Berkeley.

UCL is one of just two UK university members of CGI-U and students representing the faculties of Arts & Humanities, Engineering and the Institute of Education joined more than 1,200 others from over 70 universities and 45 countries to take part.

All had made a ‘commitment to action’ – a project to improve an aspect of a community based locally or overseas, in the fields of education, environment, poverty, peace, human rights or health.

Founded by former US President Bill Clinton – pictured below with the Global Engagement Office’s Programme Manager Rachel Corcoran – CGI-U builds on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges.

UCL students can apply for funding to develop their projects via CGI-U’s Innovation Fund, even if they did not attend the conference.

“Don’t waste inspiration”

Rachel Corcoran with Bill Clinton at CGI-UNaomi Poyser, final year undergraduate in Greek & Latin and Student Enterprise Ambassador at UCL Advances, built Greenseed, an app to encourage users to share tips and advice on growing their own food.

Her favourite part of the conference was a panel discussion chaired by Clinton, with the founders of Pinterest, Khan Academy, MuslimGirl.net and Cady Coleman, a NASA astronaut.

“This discussion blew me away; the panel members were all so charismatic and had great insight to share from their amazing and varied experiences, and Bill Clinton kept the discussion exciting and impactful,” she said.

“From the founder of Pinterest I learnt to view failure as a stepping stone, from the founder of MuslimGirl the importance of writing your own narrative, and from the astronaut how to put things in perspective. My favourite lesson was from Salman Khan, who told us ‘don’t waste inspiration’ – advice I have been sticking to since being back.”

Preparation for global careers

UCL students Naomi Poyser and Francisco Cordoba Ortalora at CGI-UFrancisco Cordoba Ortalora, studying an MA in Lifelong Learning Policy & Management, created Diaspora Colombia, a mentoring programme and e-learning platform that empowers young Colombian leaders from disadvantaged backgrounds to engage in world-class education.

Francisco said during the conference he learned strategies to expand his programme’s reach through partnerships, as well as the importance of not losing sight of his true goal. He particularly liked meeting NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, adding: “She shared with us all her struggles to achieve success and how to keep motivated along the way.”

The delegates also picked up practical advice. After developing Scoodle, a system enabling students to search and instantly book lessons with tutors in any subject, first-year Computer Science student Mujavid Bukhari said attending CGI-U helped him learn about increasing organisational capacity and fundraising from leaders in the field.

While in San Francisco, Mujavid attended Stanford’s Asia-Pacific Entrepreneurship Summit and said: “I’m now just waiting for exams to finish so that I can really get started developing Scoodle.”

The students spoke of the value in networking with like-minded peers. Naomi added: “Meeting students from all around the world who are all working towards addressing world problems was incredible and gave me so much hope and motivation. I met people who I will definitely be staying in touch with, and who I could potentially collaborate with in the future.

“Bill Clinton’s closing comment that “we can’t make a perfect world, but we can make a better one” really touched me and has inspired me more than ever to carry out my commitment.”

UCL Professor conferred Honorary Doctorate recognising partnership work

By Sophie Vinter, on 27 April 2016

Professor Alimuddin ZumlaUCL Professor Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine (MDhc) by Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institutet (KI), in recognition of his partnership work and research into infectious disease.

The professor in Infectious Diseases and International Health at UCL’s Faculty of Medical Sciences has made seminal contributions to the understanding and advancement of knowledge of the epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, rapid diagnosis and treatment of respiratory tract infections, particularly tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

He was distinguished by the KI Board of Research for establishing equitable research partnerships between Europe, USA, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as effectively aligning these to capacity development and training activities.

Tackling global emergencies

Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS were declared global emergencies by the World Health Organization in 1992 and Prof Zumla’s data have been used for developing new global diagnostic, prevention and treatment guidelines.

Working closely with KI researchers on numerous high impact publications, including Professor Markus Maeurer with whom he has collaborated over the past seven years, Professor Zumla co-established the Host-Directed Therapies network consortium of 64 international partners.

Its objectives include evaluating new clinical trials, developing high quality laboratory infrastructure at African partner sites and empowering a high calibre cadre of African researchers to lead future investigations.

Driving force for training

Alimuddin Zumla, Honorary Doctor of Medicine with members of the Host-Directed Therapies networkA statement on KI website reads: “Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded numerous honors, medals and prizes not only for his scientific excellence, but also for his contributions to international policy development and advancement of public health agenda on infectious diseases with epidemic potential.

“He has also been a major driving force for training of young developing country physicians, scientists and laboratory personnel.”

Each year KI confers honorary doctorates to individuals for their “vital scientific achievements or significant contributions to the university or humanity at large.”

Professor Zumla will have his doctorate formally conferred at a ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall on 13 May 2016.

Guangdong planners join Bartlett’s ‘Urban Organic Renewal’ training course

By Sophie Vinter, on 23 February 2016

By David Cobb, Director of Business Development, The Bartlett

Attendees of The Bartlett's ‘Urban Organic Renewal’ training courseFor the second time in as many years The Bartlett welcomed a large delegation of Chinese urban planners from several cities across Guangdong Province.

The 10-day executive training course focused on the theme of ‘Urban Organic Renewal’ and drew on the expertise of The Bartlett’s senior academics – along with invited specialist guest lecturers.

The training visit, undertaken on a commercial basis, celebrated The Bartlett’s warm and developing relationship with Guangdong Province. Beyond the 2013 training course Bartlett professors have participated in Guangdong’s ‘Mayors Fora’ and delivered workshops in Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

The delegation visiting UCL was led by President Zhang Zhaokang, Guangdong Urban & Rural Planning and Design Institute and included a former Bartlett Development Planning Unit alumnus, Ma Xiangming.

London’s regeneration

The training visit included 10 days at UCL, including lectures and site visits at which academics could showcase London’s approach to regeneration and renewal at locations including the Olympic Park; Kings Cross Station; South Bank; The Shard and Docklands.

External guest speakers included Michele Dix, Managing Director of Crossrail 2, who is also a visiting Professor to The Bartlett School of Planning.

The Bartlett course delegates in the same pub previously visited by Chinese President Xi Jinping

The delegation used their remaining time in the UK by visiting provincial cities – including Edinburgh, Bath, Oxford and Cambridge – at which they met city experts and officials to learn more about the governance and challenges they face.

One unintended coach stop was particularly welcomed by the delegation. They stopped at the same pub where their President Xi Jinping joined Prime Minister Cameron to eat fish and chips and enjoy a couple of pints of Green King IPA beer just a few weeks beforehand! A good photo stop!

Meeting key influencers

A feature of this training course was the increased profile, contribution and support provided by the Bartlett’s Chinese ‘student team’ comprising 10 PhD planning students and one urban design masters student. It gave them access to meet and socialise with influential Chinese planners and hopefully this will be helpful to some in their future careers upon returning to China.

Feedback on the course has been overwhelmingly positive, with one delegate commenting: “Wonderful. UCL is indeed a strong and sophisticated university. I especially like how urban planning and urban design are combined in the academic structure. Also using the underground to classes, though tiring, is a good way of learning about this city. A very unique experience.”