Session 1. SYLFF 20th anniversary: Celebrating the first two decades
January 16 (Tuesday), 10:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
1-1 Opening remarks by Ellen Mashiko, The Tokyo Foundation
Ms. Mashiko greeted all of the guests and participants, and noted the following: (from text)
We celebrate the SYLFF Program's first two decades as reflected in our logo, a tree with 20 hand-shaped leaves − a leaf for each year of the Program. Our logo is also a reminder that the more than 9,000 SYLFF fellows − the recipients of SYLFF fellowships − throughout the world are helping hands to their local communities, to their nations, and to the global community. We are delighted that five SYLFF fellows are with us today. They are two of the three recipients of the first SYLFF Prizes awarded in 2004, and three members of the worldwide SYLFF Fellows Council. The SYLFF Prize recipients will speak this afternoon and Council representatives will share their insights and work-in-progress tomorrow.
The trunk of our 20th anniversary tree is comprised of the 69 universities and consortia (a total of 88 institutions of higher learning) in 45 countries that have received endowments that allow them to provide fellowships to master's and doctoral students pursuing degrees in the social sciences, humanities and performing arts at their respective institutions, and in perpetuity. Seventy-eight (78) representatives of 65 of these institutions will meet throughout this week regarding how we can together strengthen the SYLFF Program. We shall also learn from each other about the globalization of higher education and explore the implications of this worldwide phenomenon on the SYLFF network.
She then introduced the first speaker.
1-2 Welcome and introduction of the keynote speaker by Ralf Hemmingsen, University of Copenhagen
As the Rector of the University of Copenhagen it is a great pleasure to welcome you all as friends or members of the SYLFF family on this occasion where we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the SYLFF Programme.
It is a special honour for me to welcome both Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation and His Excellency, the Japanese Ambassador to Denmark, Mr. Masaki Okada.
In this magnificent Ceremonial Hall I greet all new students at the beginning of each academic year. This is also the venue of our annual celebration where we receive Her Majesty the Queen and proclaim our doctors and prize-winning teachers.
The paintings above you display − in the style of the romantic painters of the 19th Century − the important role the University of Copenhagen has played in Danish culture and society.
I would like to draw your attention to one of the paintings. Up there, on your right hand corner, is a painting portraying the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The painting shows Mary Stuart's son, Scottish King James the Sixth, the later James I of England, who in 1590 paid a visit to Tycho Brahe's observatory on the island of Hven which lies between Denmark and Sweden.
Now, why do I draw attention to this painting?
I do so, because I think Tycho Brahe's life and accomplishments lie at the very heart of what I consider the nature of science, human endeavour and leadership. Indeed, Brahe may even serve as a role model for Academia in general and the SYLFF family in particular.
I think Brahe stands out as a great scholar in at least two ways.
First, Brahe conducted research employing a truly scientific method of investigation. Brahe's work in fixing the positions of stars and planets paved the way for future discoveries . His observations were the most accurate before the invention of the telescope. They included a comprehensive study of the solar system and accurate positions of more than 777 fixed stars. Due to the perfectionism of his observation notes, his pupil, Johannes Keppler, was able to calculate the orbit of the planets around the sun, thereby falsifying the proposition that the Earth is the centre at the universe.
I think Brahe's achievements constitute an important lesson learned. Not least for those who sponsor our research. Now more than ever, our sponsors are under immense pressure. As globalisation continues to transform our economies, the competitive challenge is growing. And there is an urge to be in a state of permanent innovation. Research is often considered one of the prime innovation drivers in the global economy. In effect, research constitutes the central thrust of current globalisation strategies − from the Danish Government's globalisation strategy to the EU's Lisbon Strategy. And rightly so! Universities and research environments must be part of the equation. And we salute any pledges to boost research budgets.
But in this time of rosy research rhetoric, we have to voice our concern. We are concerned that our sponsors will favour applied research with expected pay-off in the short-term at the expense of pure, basic research. And we are concerned that those research fields which are able to present tangible, quantifiable, clear-cut results will be favoured at the expense of those fields which are difficult to convey in a utilitarian manner, notably the humanities, the social sciences and law.
Scientists should of course be poised to respond to current problems in society, including threats to our health. But as the story about Tycho Brahe shows, it is essential that we also maintain a sufficient level of basic research. If basic research is neglected, attempts to push for a quick innovation "jack pot" through applied research will be futile.
Brahe's international outlook also merits our attention. As a young man, he travelled extensively in present day Switzerland, Italy and Germany where he also received part of his education. Brahe was the son of an aristocrat. Therefore, he faced no financial constraints and was able to obtain a first-class education which included studies in Leipzig, Wittenberg, Rostock and Basel. He mastered several languages and wrote poetry in Latin.
But not everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Consequently, we have to make efforts to support international education and exchange programmes. That is precisely, the purpose of the SYLFF-programme at the University of Copenhagen. Over the years, your generous donation has enabled us to give hundreds of students from the University of Copenhagen a grant for studies around the world.
Studying in another country should not merely be seen as a market driven attempt to meet the demands of an increasingly global business environment. In my view, it is much more than just a stepping stone in the pursuit of a successful career. It is much more than just endowing young people with language skills.
Programmes like that of the SYLFF create world wide networks and lifelong personal ties. At the end of the day it is a very powerful force in creating mutual understanding, tolerance and even geopolitical stability. Essentially, it enhances a culture of leadership and co-existence.
We live in a world where terror and atrocities never seem to end. Where the media every morning and every night bring new horrors directly into our homes. In this world, the idea of international education, the flow of students and researchers across borders and continents, and the intercultural knowledge and understanding which arises from education across borders, is needed more than ever.
Unfortunately, war and unrest are recurrent phenomena in world history. I am afraid that the history of the university is no exemption. The painting above the entrance depicts the student battalion which helped defend the city as the Swedes launched a fierce attack against Copenhagen in 1659. Patriots would even claim: Had it not been for the students, we would all speak Swedish today.
As recognition of their bravery, the students were allowed to bear a rapier in the years to come. Armed and perhaps incited by their heroism − and certainly by schnapps − they created a lot of trouble in the streets of Copenhagen. Some of the students were sentenced to prison-in fact the university had its own prison which is located in the basement across the courtyard from this building. Eventually, the students lost the right to keep and bear arms.
Nowadays, we live a quiet and peaceful life here in the Øresund region. On Thursday, you will be able to get a first-hand impression of how close Sweden and Denmark are tied together − as you embark on a field trip to Malmö − across the bridge to Sweden.
Today, I have touched on two drivers which remain key to the development of − not only higher education − but of society at large: basic research and international study programmes.
As I reach the conclusion, I just want to briefly discuss a couple of avenues of action that the University of Copenhagen is actively pursuing in order to develop its research portfolio and its international outlook.
As of January 1st, the University of Copenhagen, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University and The Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences have merged into one single university − indeed the largest in Scandinavia. By merging, we aspire to one of the most significant health and life science research centres in Europe.
Today, I would like to underline: a merger will be a big leap forward in our efforts to strengthen life science research in Denmark. But the merger will not distort those formidable research environments already in place in the realms of the humanities and the social sciences. On the contrary, we will be looking to enhance our profile as a comprehensive University with a range of distinctive research fields and degrees.
The University of Copenhagen was established 528 years ago as an international University. Right above my head you see a painting which depicts the Inauguration of the University in the cathedral in 1479. The bishop introduces the new Professors to the King, Christian the First. From the outset, the university was an international Schola Universalis with teachers from all over Europe speaking one universal language, which was not at that time English, but Latin. The students were international too − they came from all parts of Scandinavia and the Northern parts of Germany.
The University is engaged in a number of projects which will revitalise this international spirit of co-operation and leadership. We are currently in the process of drafting a new strategy for the merged university. The board is scheduled to agree on the exact wording in March. But you can rest assured that the international dimension will be at the centre of the strategy. We will launch "star programmes" which will enable researchers to attain the services and facilities instrumental to the conduct of first-class research. We intend to launch a number of special master's degrees tailored to fit those excellent students who will perhaps otherwise be tempted to leave Denmark. In fact, we intend to give every degree a thorough check-up to examine their international attractiveness.
Roughly a year ago, we became part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). The alliance comprises 10 universities, including Yale, Berkeley, Oxford, Cambridge and Tokyo.
Please do not try to google IARU directly. You will get 81,000 hits, but the vast majority will be for International Amateur Radio Union!
Our business is research − not radio − and for that reason the ten IARU presidents decided on five research projects all based on the theme "Global Change and Sustainability".
We hope with these research initiatives to address major issues that confront the societies wherever we live. And it became a cornerstone in our partnership to create possibilities in research − and in teaching − that will be better than any single of the ten universities could provide on its own.
The five themes that were finally chosen are:
● Global Security − organised by ANU and Cambridge
● Movement of People − organised by Oxford and Berkeley
● Understanding women in Universities around the globe − organised by Yale and Cambridge
● Energy, Resources and Environment − organised by Tokyo, ETH Zürich and NUS
● Last but not least - Ageing, Longevity and Health − organised by Peking University and University of Copenhagen.
At the University of Copenhagen we are very eager to use this research collaboration as a platform especially for junior researchers − we look forward to "badging" postdocs and PhD's as IARU scholars in order to give them a real chance to work and study for shorter periods of time at the other IARU Universities − and we do see a potential of raising external funds for PhDs by this IARU "badging".
Generally, we are looking to use IARU as a vehicle for benchmarking and sharing of good practice on excellence in graduate education and the transforming power of undergraduate education.
I also hope that the next few days will provide excellent opportunities to build on this spirit of sharing knowledge and learning from each other.
Allow me to give you a short presentation of the next speaker: Mr. Bertel Haarder is actually doing his second round as Minister of Education. The first time was in the 1980's. Since then he spent some years as a member of the European Parliament, before returning from Brussels as the Fogh Rasmussen Government was formed in 2001. As Minister of Development Assistance and European Affairs, he was part of the Danish EU- Presidency which handled the EU enlargement process. Before returning to his old office in the Ministry of Education, he served as Minister of Integration. Since 2001, the government has passed legislation which has introduced significant changes to our education system, including the primary school system, the high schools and the universities. Mr. Haarder has been an active member of the Government's Globalisation Council whose brief it was to think of new ways of managing the competitive pressures arising from the globalisation process.