Friday, June 18, 2010

Scientific research and society - a lecture by Kofi Annan

Theme: Scientific Research and Society
: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) - Zurich, Switzerland

Today I was fortunate enough to attend an overbooked lecture by Mr. Kofi Annan, the former UN-SG and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. For this year's Richard R. Ernst Lecture at the ETH Zurich, Mr. Annan delivered a captivating lecture on the role of scientific research in solving the needs of society . He urged young researchers to delve into research that crosses boundaries of their fields through interdisciplinary work and international collaborations with less technological advanced nations. Addressing a multitude of young researchers and students, Mr. Annan pointed out that scientists should provide the necessary leadership in research policy when political support is lacking. This could be through creating innovative solutions to societal needs that gain public support of the target communties. He pressed on the need of academics to refuse to remain in the ivory-tower, but rather become actors through research that makes a lasting impact to society. During the lecture, he quoted the Indian statesman and foremost actor in its R&D revolution, Jawaharlal Nehru, who once said "we are too poor to not invest in science and technology", to highlight the importance of science and technology for solving incessant problems of the south - food shortage, climate change and diseases of poverty.

The full lecture

(c) ETH Zurich, ITS-MMS

Below are amateur video clips of the panel discussion with Kofi Annan chaired by the 1991 Chemistry Nobel Laureate Prof. Richard R. Ernst.

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