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[Beijing Forum 2016] A Role for Universities and Urban Regions in Fostering Global Prosperity

NOV . 14 2016
Peking University, Nov. 11, 2016On the morning of November 4, the Opening Ceremony of Beijing Forum 2016 was held in Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. President of University of Toronto, Meric Gertler made a keynote speech on the topic of “International collaboration: A Role for Universities and Urban Regions in Fostering Global Prosperity”.
 
In the speech, President Gertler pointed out two well-known forces that profoundly shape the current political landscape and international community. One is a trend to withdraw from international cooperationas illustrated by the Brexit campaign, which further triggered political parties in many European countries to call for similar referendum on EU membership. The other influential force is the increasing number of challenges currently facing the global community, including climate change, international migration, poverty and so on.
 
Gertler then showed a diagram of the referendum distribution in UK, and pinpointed that the major urban regions were almost the very exceptions voting to stay in the EU. While watching this graph, Gertler drew our attention to an often neglected phenomenon: each of these locations is home to one or more well regarded research-intensive universities.
 
And this observation leaded to the main point of Gertler’s remark: there still exists a third powerful force now reshaping the international political landscape, which isthe global research collaboration. Gertler acknowledged the constructive roles that universities and research institutions based on major urban regions around the globe play in the discovery and transmission of new ideas to help advance global prosperity.
 
Gertler furthered clarified two features of international collaboration that deserve special attention: first, periodicity started at home. It was hard to point out the value of welcoming international students and staffs to institutions and cities, but internationalization at home was an important part of international collaboration. The second aspect of this phenomenon was global collaboration among universities, institutions, and urban regions. There were some common features of these regions. They are fundamentally collaborative, and they keepclose cooperation with many world-class universities.
 
Gertler also compared the world’s leading internationally and collaborative regions on the same scale but at different times. Indeed, global international collaborations in recent years have grown rapidly not only in quantity but also in scale and richness of global knowledge production.
 
Gertler argued that international collaboration mattered because it offers a platform for the exchange of human knowledge and experience at home and abroad. Thus participation in the global network of intellectual research and innovation becomes increasingly important for the local and global prosperity.
 
Finally, Gertler concluded that international collaboration was an inspiring example for mutual trust, cooperation and sharing. The connected urban regions would collaborate to find answers to the big global issues and challenges of our time. The insightful ideas and fresh perspectives that we could glean from international collaboration, would definitely contribute to the prosperity of all society.
 
Reported by: Wang Chengsiou / Li Yao
Edited by: Wang Qian