June 22, 2017, by Liz Cass
Our Research Vision: We have the ability to transform lives
Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham challenges universities to take on global challenges.
It is rare to have agreement from world leaders on any given topic but at a United Nations level there is a global pact to tackle 17 goals.
The 17, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), aim to transform the world around us by encouraging countries whether poor or rich to work together to end poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change.
Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
At the University of Nottingham we are actively setting out to make a contribution locally and globally.
It stems from a belief about the role of universities and the contribution they should increasingly make in these times of economic and political change and where we know there is a growing gap between those who are benefiting from globalisation and technological progress, and those who are not.
Today we are announcing a £200 million investment to address some of the most pressing global challenges of our time — around issues of sustainability, climate change, food security, low carbon economies, health and wellbeing and displaced and exploited people.
We have created six Beacons of Excellence, transdisciplinary research groups, aimed at tackling each challenge through expertise and innovation.
Though the challenges require us to address fundamental scientific questions, we are also setting up the conditions for rapid translation of these, through the technology readiness levels, with and into people’s lives.
The beacons also harness our strengths in social, human and creative sciences to understand behavioural, economic, political and cultural implications of change and how advances should be shaped for the benefit of society.
We are very proud that our beacons between them they contribute to all 17 of the SDGs.
At a recent forum President of the UN Economic and Social Council, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava said: “We have to collectively step up our efforts to leverage science and technology in support to concrete actions towards the aspirations of the sustainable development goals.
“Such action oriented cooperation on science, technology and innovation might prove not only highly effective but could also help bridging divides across national borders and between the various communities, and strengthen communication and collaboration.”
We believe universities are ideally placed to lead this charge.
This is one of the most concentrated and comprehensive investment programmes for research that our University has ever undertaken.
We are laying down a challenge to ourselves and also to our funders, supporters and to government.
We are organising ourselves, drawing on the many assets of our university and our global connections to draw together an array of disciplinary interests. It requires us to organise ourselves very differently and to direct our resources accordingly.
We are creating the conditions for researchers to come together to tackle the challenges we have set, we are also asking to do this in partnership and with a determination as never before, to do this in a way that also embeds the benefits in our local and national economy.
With it we have the ability to transform lives.