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BioVision Alexandria 2014 - New Life Sciences: The Next Decade

BioVision Alexandria 2014

BioVisionAlexandria 2014

Library of Alexandria

April 7-9, 2014

Following the meeting of the World University Consortium’s (WUC) charter members at Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria) in February, Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Library, Director of WUC and WAAS Fellow, invited the World Academy and WUC to conduct three sessions at the 7th Biennial International BioVision Alexandria conference on April 7-9, 2014. A specific goal of BioVision Alexandria was to increase participation of developing countries and create significant roles for them in the global exchange of knowledge and best practices. The conference examined the latest and emerging scientific discoveries and inquired into ways they will shape our world and worldviews. The theme of BioVision 2014 was “New Life Sciences: The Next Decade.

The conference gave prominent attention to the current revolution in online education and the leading-edge endeavor of WUC to promote accessible and affordable world-class higher education. A plenary session of the first day of the conference was co-organized by WUC and the Library and was entitled “The Coming Revolution in Higher Education.

 


Azza El Kholy, Ismail Serageldin, Ljudmila Popovich, 
Alberto Zucconi & Garry Jacobs

 Monday,
 7 April 2014
 (Day 1)
 9:00–11:00  Registration (during all days of the Conference)
 11:00–13:00

Conference Opening Session 

 13:00–14:30 Networking break (Visit BioFair and Poster Session Area)
 14:30–15:30

The Role of Youth in Future Egypt 

 15:30–16:00 Networking break (Visit BioFair and Poster Session Area)
 16:00–17:30 Plenary Session 1: Systems and Synthetic Biology: The Way Forward Track 1: The German Science Centre Cairo – Excellent Opportunities for Students and Researchers from Egypt
 17:30–18:00 Networking break 
 18:00–19:30

Plenary Session 2: Sustainable Agriculture: New Models

Track 2: H2020 and Erasmus Plus: The New EU Programmes for Research, Innovation and Higher Education
       
 Tuesday,
 8 April 2014
 (Day 2)
8:30–9:00 Registration (during all days of the Conference)
9:00–10:30 Plenary Session 3: The Coming Revolution in Higher Education Panel A-1: Brain: What We Need to Know (Health) Panel C-1: Biotechnological Applications of Metagenomics (Environment)   Track 3: Digital Health for Better Care to All
10:30–11:00 Networking break 
11:00–12:30 Plenary Session 4: Emerging Pathogens: Preventing the Next Pandemic  Panel C-2: Green Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Towards a Sustainable Future of Egypt (Environment) Track 4: Future of Education: Opportunities and Challenges
12:30–14:00 Networking break 
14:00–15:30 Panel A-2: Genomics and Infectious Diseases: Routine Diagnostics of the Next Decade (Health) Panel B-1: Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution: The Next Hundred Years (Food and Agriculture) Panel C-3: TriNex: Making the Water–Energy–Food Nexus the Next Research Frontier in Egypt (Environment) Track 5: Consciousness According to Science, Philosophy and Spirituality
15:30–16:00 Networking break 
16:00–17:30 Panel A-3: Phage Therapy: Old is New! (Health) Panel B-2: Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution: the Next Hundred Years (Food and Agriculture) Panel C-4: Future of Sustainability I (Environment) Track 6: Communication, Innovation and Education: A Multiple Perspective (Roundtable)
17:30–18:00 Networking break 
18:00–19:30 Panel  A-4: Health Care and the Medical Revolution (Health) Panel C-5: Future of Sustainability II (Environment) Track 7: Help Desk
       
Wednesday,
 9 April 2014
 (Day 3)
8:30–9:00 Registration (during all days of the Conference)
9:00–10:30 Plenary Session 5: New Trends in Life Sciences
10:30–11:00 Networking break
11:00–12:30 CEO Panel
12:30–14:00 Networking break
14:00–15:00 Plenary Session 6: Reporting Session
15:00–16:00 Plenary Session 7: Closing Session

 

Ismail Serageldin explored the need and potential for reinventing the university to attune it to rapidly changing social needs by harnessing newly emerging technologies. He characterized tomorrow’s universities and identified seven key aspects of the future of knowledge as the pillars of the knowledge revolution: meta-web high knowledge connectivity and high social connectivity, image-based virtual reality research, mutually enhancing relationship between humans and machines, the science of complex systems, computation and research, convergence of fields such as bio/info/nano technology, and pluri-disciplinarity. Examining the manifold crucial functions served by universities in society, he stressed the tremendous potential benefits a well-designed global university program would offer when adapted to the diverse needs of different nations, regions, age groups.

 

Garry Jacobs, CEO of WUC, urged the need for a dramatic and immediate expansion of the global system of higher education to accommodate the tremendous influx of students in the next ten years. He characterized education as the most effective technology developed so far for promoting the conscious social transformations needed to address today’s global challenges. Online education is a potent pedagogical model for both enhancing the quality and improving the accessibility and affordability of higher education.

 

Alberto Zucconi, Secretary General of WUC, delineated the foundational tenets and organizational principles of the Consortium. WUC is an inclusive international, interdisciplinary, and intersectoral community dedicated to the protection and promotion of human potential, human rights, synergistic collaboration, sustainable development and biodiversity. Working in collaboration with universities, research institutes, NGOs, corporations and governments, it will seek to develop and disseminate new types of transdisciplinary courses, new pedagogical methods and technologies, and new strategies worldwide.

Tracing back the evolution of WUC to the idea of an informal world university envisioned by WAAS’ founders and the resounding enthusiasm generated at the World Academy Forum at the University of California Berkeley in 2013, Ljudmila Popovich identified WUC as not just another institution but rather as a New Culture of Learning. WUC seeks to transform the very way in which educational institutions and universities function. She pointed to the organizational, policy-making, funding, technical, curriculum, pedagogical and consciousness changes required to make the great leap toward such globally transformative goal. She characterized the new learning culture as an inclusive cultural climate, a holistic system of care and support, and a social movement created and co-created for the intellectual development and greater well-being of all humanity.

The WUC plenary session was followed by an interactive workshop in which students and faculty raised questions and shared their insights and concerns regarding the state of higher education today and the critical need for change. Azza El Kholy, Head of the Academic Research Sector of the Library of Alexandria, stressed the need for greater emphasis on Humanities, not only in the programs across the disciplines but also in any discussion of the future of research, knowledge and social advances. She emphasized the capacity of the Humanities to paint a bigger picture, create a more holistic approach, and infuse humanistic values into all disciplines and intellectual discourse. Rita Wilson, student at the English Department of the University of Alexandria, offered an impassioned perspective on the challenges of her generation’s education in Egypt. Alberto Zucconi addressed the importance of education for the development of the whole personality capable of making choices beneficial to both the individual and society. Mila Popovich proposed the notion of quantum learning, according to which the slightest shifts in the deepest levels of consciousness have dramatic external effects and consequences.

A third session conducted by WAAS on “Consciousness according to Science, Philosophy, and Spirituality,” focused on the nature of human consciousness and the shift in consciousness necessary to address current challenges and invent the next stage of human development. Garry Jacobs depicted consciousness as the most remarkable phenomenon in the universe, examined different and potentially complementary conceptions of it, and contemplated the future of consciousness research. Mila Popovich spoke on the issues of quantum computation, artificial intelligence, and consciousness and the relationship among them. Alberto Zucconi concentrated on the development of the whole rounded individual being to ensure individual and collective well-being. The presentations elicited intense interest and enthusiastic interactions among an overflowing hall of participants.

The response of students and other participants confirmed the need for a metaframe of learning and knowledge that WUC plans to afford by creating comprehensive, overarching foundation courses which address the interrelated nature of all aspects of human and planetary ecology, the principle and process of accomplishment relevant to a trans-disciplinary science of society, and the study of universal values needed to support the next stage of human development.

Ljudmila Popovich
Associate Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science;
Comparative Literature, University of Colorado