Presidents' Meeting 2022
Photo credit: Nic Marchant
Cambridge was delighted to host the 2022 IARU Presidents’ Meeting over three days in the beautiful surroundings of Downing College. It was the first in-person meeting for the Alliance since the beginning of the pandemic, and for several attendees it was the first opportunity to travel internationally in some time. These special circumstances helped generate a great of in-depth discussion and made the meeting particularly enjoyable. Colleagues from Peking University were able to join portions of the meeting online.
The Presidents were able to hear first-hand about how international scientific collaboration has been fundamentally changed as a result of the pandemic through a joint presentation by Professor Sir Andrew Pollard (University of Oxford), the chief investigator in the clinical trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and Dr Tonya Villafana (Vice President, Global Franchise Head) who led the late-stage development of the vaccine.
A session led by Cambridge’s Professor Ian Leslie focused on crucial questions around sustainability and how to balance effective academic collaboration while also leading by example in reducing the carbon footprint of universities.
Presentations by both Cambridge and Copenhagen on ‘The Future of Work’ explored the need to transform, rather than just transfer, teaching in an online environment, while a presentation by the National University of Singapore staked out the mentoring of researchers as a promising future area of collaboration for IARU members. A wide-ranging panel discussion was also organised on the increasing complexities of international engagement and how these require universities to develop informed, strategic approaches for global collaboration.
The attendees continued continue their conversations over dinners in the picturesque medieval grounds of Trinity Hall and Queens’ College. After visits to the Wren Library at Trinity College and evensong at King’s College Chapel, a final tour of the Sainsbury’s Laboratory of plant sciences gave attendees the opportunity to learn about one of the University’s cutting-edge scientific facilities.
The meeting generated several exciting ideas for fresh dialogue in areas of common interest, and several suggestions for the sharing of strategies and data. We hope that this meeting marks the return of in-person gatherings and we look forward to our Senior Officers’ Meeting in the autumn.