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Universitas 21 (U21) is a global network of 27 research universities from across the six continents. The University of Zurich, which has been a member since 2017, was supposed to host this year's AGM and Presidential Symposium from 5 to 8 May. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, the meeting has now gone digital. This year’s meeting is focused on how universities can help find sustainable solutions to social, economic and environmental issues.
On the network’s website, Prof. David Eastwood, the chair of U21, praises UZH’s commitment to the event. UZH did an excellent job in moving the symposium completely online. One of this year's innovations is the poster session, which presents sustainability projects and initiatives from across the network.
In her welcoming remarks, President ad interim Gabriele Siegert emphasizes how inspiring the the various projects and initiatives are. “They exemplify how U21 universities approach sustainability – in research, on campus – by analyzing global challenges in all of their dimensions, providing answers to complex issues, and fostering change,” says Siegert.
The website also features the keynote speech by renowned climate expert Prof. Thomas Stocker, former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and professor of climate and environmental physics at the University of Bern since 1993. He asks the controversial question “Climate Change: Have Science and Education Failed?”.
The same question is also explored in the expert talk between Prof. Thomas Stocker and Prof. Michael Schaepman, Vice President Research of UZH. Stocker concludes that research has taken important steps in putting the facts out in the open and bringing them to the people and the policy-makers. “The facts are there, the data are there. In education, however, we still have a long way to go.”