WUN community gathers in Washington DC for annual conference

The international WUN community returned to Washington DC in May 2013 for its annual conference and general meeting. The event attracted more than 200 delegates and provided an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the previous year, review WUN programs and to chart the development of the network over the coming year.

The 3rd WUN Presidents Forum examined the pressing issues of world food and nutrition security. WUN experts and leaders, together with researchers and policy makers, discussed the art and science of the possible.  Speakers included WUN’s Professor Guy Poppy and Professor Molly John,  Dr Armin Fidler of the World Bank, Dr Nicholas Nelson from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and Dr Mark Rosegrant from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The forum has resulted in a continuing dialogue between WUN and international agencies and funders.

WUN Presidents Forum 2013

Experts discuss food security at the 2013 WUN Presidents Forum - L-R: Dr Mark Rosegrant, CGIAR; Dr Nicholas Nelson, FAO; Professor Molly Jahn, The University of Wisconsin-Madison; Professor Guy Poppy, The University of Southampton

The afternoon session of the Presidents Forum offered a chance for the Presidents of WUN to share their concerns in a closed session titled What Keeps Me Awake at Night? There resulted a unique world view, drawn from university Presidents from five continents, on the similarities and differences in the immediate challenges faced by leading international research universities. The issues and recommendations are being prepared as a position paper.

The Global Challenge Steering Groups met on Day 2 to review their statements of purpose, priorities and progress of their constituent research groups, focus on their proposed outcomes for the coming year, and devise operational and funding plans. The results were reported to the Global Challenge Plenary Meeting.

The Annual WUN Conference Dinner was hosted at The National Press Club, a Washington institution that has hosted addresses and debates by the world’s leading politicians and thinkers since 1925. The lively keynote address was delivered by Professor Michael Arthur, WUN Chair from 2007-2009, and now moving as Vice-Chancellor from Leeds to University College London. 

The final day of the conference was dedicated to the annual business meetings of the Partnership Board (University Presidents and Vice-Chancellors), Academic Advisory Group (Vice-Presidents and Deputy Vice-Chancellors) and the WUN Coordinators Group. The Research Managers Group had met earlier in the conference. The minutes of these meetings have been circulated.

Among topics approved by the Partnership Board were the size and shape of the WUN Partnership (maximum 20 members and pause before possible expansion to 25) and a new special fund  to achieve  sustainability of the WUN Global Challenges within the next three years. The Academic Advisory Group (AAG) reviewed the WUN Global Challenge programs, Impact Statements, Research Synergies Exercise and the Research Development Fund. The Coordinators Group discussed issues surrounding improving opportunities for early career researchers and undergraduates, communications, and streamlining of processes relating to the RDF.

Leading into the conference, WUN hosted two academic highlights: the WUN 3rdPublic Health Global Challenge Conference focussing on researching lifecourse interventions for preventing non-communicable diseases; and the WUN Global Higher Education and Research Global Challenge Workshop, which posed the question what will our universities look like in 2030?

WUN 3rd Public Health Global Challenge

WUN 3rd Public Health Global Challenge Conference