The online high-level conference ‘Academia for the benefit of society – meeting critical challenges’ is hosted by Lund University and takes place as part of the CESAER Annual Meetings 2021.
A broad range of speakers representing academia, public policy, industry, and student bodies will reflect and advise on universities’ mission to benefit society and contribute to improved living conditions for people all over the globe.
The conference takes place in the context of a deepening climate crisis, whilst increased robotisation and automation are transforming the labour market. Key technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and quantum technology bring ample opportunities, as well as new dilemmas. In the meantime, trust in authorities, including academic institutions, is being challenged and the public debate in parts of the world is becoming increasingly polarised.
The finale of the conference will be the announcement of the winner of the €20,000 prize of the Competition Best Idea 2021, in which student-led teams have developed their ideas to contribute to ecological, social and economic sustainability. Three outstanding teams will present their ideas and interact with participants via a virtual exhibition.
Erik Renström (Vice-Chancellor of Lund University) said: “Academics, companies and politics are well aware of the global challenges and their consequences. The IPCC's climate report is clear and now is the time to speed up the work for a better future for all. It is a big and difficult task, but all the seeds we sow today through education, research and innovation will grow into something new tomorrow and all the ideas that thrive in this forum give me hope for the future.”
Rik Van de Walle (President of CESAER and Rector of Ghent University) stated: “Our Members and universities of science and technology, play an invaluable role in tackling the world’s most pressing challenges. By bringing together academia with stakeholders from industry and government, we will explore how universities and other academic institutions, together with various players, can collaborate to the greatest benefit of society by assuming the responsibilities that come with the unique role of universities and as underpinned by our independence and autonomy.
“I am proud and immensely encouraged by the work of the student-led teams competing in our Competition Best Idea 2021. They act as role models highlighting that students at our Members are helping to develop the solutions of tomorrow and provide an impetus for us to explore how we can further advance these efforts and support the leaders of tomorrow”.
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