Finding novel ways to address complex global issues such as climate change and public health was the recurring theme of this year’s WUN Annual Conference and AGM, held in Cape Town, South Africa from 28 March – 3 April 2014.
Over 130 representatives from member universities across five continents came together in the picturesque harbour city to share ideas and plan the network’s activities for the year ahead.
Conference delegates at the University of Cape Town.
The conference opened with meetings of the four Global Challenge Steering Groups, which discussed progress and developed strategies in WUN’s key priority areas of climate change, public health, global higher education and research, and understanding cultures.
On the second day of the event, the Partnership Board, Academic Advisory Group (AAG), Coordinators Group and Research Managers Group each met to explore strategic issues such as WUN’s impact, membership growth, and Sustainability Fund. In the afternoon, all the groups convened for the AGM plenary session.
The network’s achievements over the past year were celebrated at the WUN Annual Dinner at the University of Cape Town’s historic Smuts Hall, where outgoing WUN Chair, Indira Samarasekera, was thanked for her two years of service at the helm of the network. Dr Max Price, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town and incoming Chair of WUN, delivered a speech outlining his vision for the next two years.
L-R: Dr Max Price, Incoming Chair of WUN; Professor John Hearn, WUN Executive Director; Professor Indira Samarasekera, Outgoing Chair of WUN.
Dr Max Price, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Cape Town, is welcomed as Chair of WUN by Executive Director John Hearn.
The last day of the conference saw the presidents of WUN’s member universities join with the leaders of some of Africa’s foremost universities for the fourth annual WUN Presidents Forum.
“The focus of this year’s Forum was on understanding the challenges that face African universities in the globalising higher education sector, and finding ways that WUN institutions can partner with them to mutual benefit,” explains Professor John Hearn, WUN Executive Director. After the Forum, the presidents and invited guests had the opportunity to network and cement new relationships during a tour of the scenic Stellenbosch wine-growing area.
WUN Partnership Board members present at the 2014 WUN AGM.
Preceding the AGM, WUN hosted the Joint 4th Public Health/Responding to Climate Change Global Challenge Conference. Scholars from across WUN’s global network were joined by representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), NCD Alliance, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The event kicked off with three field trips designed to give delegates an on-the-ground perspective of public health and climate change issues in southern Africa. Over the next two days, the 88 delegates engaged in vigorous dialogue on a range of pressing issues at the intersection of climate change and public health, such as the impact on families, nutrition versus food, and urbanisation and nutrition.
Delegates at the WUN Joint 4th Public Health/Responding to Climate Change Global Challenge Conference.
“Bringing together so many international experts in public health and climate change in the one location has sparked a number of promising new connections across regions and disciplines, which we expect will result in fruitful research collaborations over the coming 12 months,” says Professor Hearn.
Four other satellite workshops were also held in Cape Town prior to the Annual Conference. WUN’s Resilience in Young People and Adolescents group, Health Migration group, in-FLAME (the International Inflammation Network), and a group focused on student mobility all converged in Cape Town to plan next steps for 2014-15.
For more information: Nicholas Haskins, WUN General Manager – E: email@example.com | T: +61 2 9036 7219