On the afternoon of November 23rd, the 2020 University Alliance of the Silk Road Presidents’ Forum was held online. Over 100 guests and representatives from 26 allied universities domestic and abroad, UNESCO and the International Society of Porous Media (InterPore) were present on the air. Vice-president of Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU), executive vice-director of UASR, Guang XI attended the forum and delivered the welcome address. Director of the International Office, Changzhong He and vice-director Yanjun Lei were also there at the meeting.
On behalf of Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) and the presidents of the alliance, the president of POLIMI and the 2020 Rotating Chair, professor Ferruccio Resta also delivered a speech, in which he extended a warm welcome to everyone present and gratitude to the Secretariat and related departments, recognizing this first meeting online as a new attempt for alliance activities. Professor Resta also called for a stronger collaboration during the pandemic, an active exploration for new routes for the alliance to overcome current obstacles and achieve new developments.
Next came the address of Guang XI, vice-president of XJTU. On behalf of UASR and XJTU, he expressed his gratitude to all the partners caring about and supporting the development of the alliance. On the topic of higher education in the post-pandemic era, he shared his thoughts in 4 aspects: first, post-pandemic higher education will center itself around the concept of a community with a shared future of mankind and universities should boost cooperation in order to prevent and defend against global challenges; second, the encounter of the pandemic and the fourth industrial revolution will lead to an accelerating revolution in both educational ideals and educational methods; third, the pandemic has provided lively samples and models for the all-round development and growth and for higher education and students; fourth, XJTU has initiated the iharbour project to explore a new development mode for the intergratin of universities and the society in the 21st century.
Hosted by vice-president of POLIMI,Giuliano Noci, presidents’ reports focused on two topics: “University’s missions and role in ‘security for society’” and “How will the pandemic change or influence the future of universities”. The reports were given by Antonella Forlino, Pro-Rector, University of Pavia; Rongyu LI, Vice President, University of Queensland; Ehsan Mesbahi, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Victoria University of Wellington; Olga Yaroshenko, Vice-Rector, South Ural State University; Gensheng LI, Vice-President, China University of Petroleum - Beijing; Ir Professor Ben Young, Vice President (Student and International Affairs), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Hua WANG, Associate Dean, Emlyon Business School, Dean of Emlyon Business School Asia; Nikolay D. Rogalev, Rector, National Research University “Moscow Power Engineering Institute”; Chunhua YAN, President, Lanzhou University; Mukhambetkali Burkitbayev, First Vice Rector of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and Edward Roekaert, President, UPC.
Hosted by rector's delegate for International networks of POLIMI,Monica Riva, three keynote speeches—“Groundwater across the borders”, “Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and global health: challenges and opportunities” and “The role of porous media in security for society” - were separately given by Neno Kukuric, Director of International Groundwater Resources Assessment Center (UNESCO); Youfa WANG, professor at XJTU; and Laura Pyrak-Nolte, President of InterPore. After the speeches, they also engaged in a friendly conversation with representatives in the conference.
Up till now, six UASR presidents’ forums have been held serially. This year, due to the pandemic and after a discussion with the rotating chair of POLIMI, the presidents’ forum was convened online, organized by XJTU and POLIMI together. In addition, after coordinating all aspects by the Secretariat, alliance activities were, for the first time, present online. The Event-week lasted for 14 days and were open to all members of the alliance. These activities were jointly organized by XJTU, POLIMI, Nazarbayev University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, heritage sub-alliance, tourism sub-alliance, health sub-alliance, etc. Following the presidents’ forum were themed sub-forums on the topic of “social security” in three fields: natural systems, cyber space and global health. Related online activities of sub-alliances will also be included during the sub-forums.