VLIR-UOS New Year's Event 2016
220 researchers, professors, ministers, artists and staff from universities, university colleges, NGOs and governments, coming seven different countries and three continents, attended the VLIR-UOS New Year's Event on 26 January 2016 at BEL Brussels. Artist Koen Vanmechelen presented his cosmopolitan chicken project and during the debate the panel members reflected on cosmopolitan knowledge and development cooperation.
The link between cosmopolitan chicken and knowledge
Internationally renowned artist Koen Vanmechelen crosses different breeds of chicken to produce the cosmopolitan chicken, which carries genes from every breed in the world.
VLIR-UOS brings together scientists who seek solutions to global challenges. Cosmopolitan knowledge is created by combining knowledge from every corner of the world.
Are we ready for them?
Koen Vanmechelen presented his total project: a fascinating mix of art, science and social engagement.
Afterwards there was a discussion with Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, Professor Vaccinology Pierre Van Damme (UAntwerpen), Professor Kora Tushune Godana (Jimma University, Ethiopia), moderated by Stefaan Anrys (MO*).
'VLIR-UOS definitely adds value', argues Minister Alexander De Croo: 'VLIR-UOS has one of the highest return on investment'.
Both Kora Tushune and Pierre Van Damme referred in their respective interventions to the added value of equal partnerships and of pooling all possible expertise, not only form a mix of universities and university colleges, but also expertise from NGOs and the private sector, in collaborative multi-actor projects.
Pierre Van Damme:
'Something we have to work on is to know each other much better, in terms of expertise, ongoing projects and project ideas, in order to facilitate collaborative projects. In the past, we used to have a lot of competition. Competition between universities is a given. We are trained to really keep our ideas for ourselves. I think this needs to change. The current generation of researchers and junior staff is much more open to the idea to share, and to work together in Belgium, but also with partners in low and middle income countries. VLIR-UOS is offering such a platform to share and to collaborate, instead of to compete with one another. From the point of view of development cooperation, this is the most efficient way to match southern demands with Belgian expertise. We are eager to pilot with a number of multi-actor projects, involving other parties, such as civil society organisations, and in particular private firms.
In his speech VLIR-UOS chairman Professor Paul Janssen highlighted the role of VLIR-UOS in creating a cosmopolitan and inclusive society: 'We need brokers who can bring people together, generate and share knowledge, expertise and experiences. In my view VLIR-UOS is such a broker.' Read the full speech (in PDF).
You can see the pictures on the VLIR-UOS Flickr page.