2018 APRU Annual Presidents’ Meeting at NTU: Challenges in Our Digital Future
The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) is a consortium of leading research universities around the Pacific Rim. One of its highlights every year—the Annual Presidents’ Meeting (APM), hailed as a major education summit of the world—was hosted by National Taiwan University (NTU) in 2018. From June 24 to 26, a total of 111 higher education leaders and administrative professionals, including 27 presidents and 40 executive vice presidents and vice presidents for international affairs, from 39 universities in 14 countries gathered in Taipei to address the worldwide challenges posed by our fast-changing information society.
NTU secured the right to host the 22nd APRU APM (2018) three years ago, and framed the title of the 2018 meeting as “Our Digital Future in a Divided World.” The three-day meeting centered on the new challenges facing higher education in the rapidly evolving digital era. At the meeting, 16 speakers were invited to provide overviews of the new landscapes created by the advancement of artificial intelligence and big data in the digital age. Hopefully, education will better prepare students and equip them with the capabilities required for career development, adaptation to social change, and civic engagement.
“We are delighted that our APM is a platform where overviews of critical developments are provided and the urgent questions framed,” said APRU Secretary General Christopher Tremewan. “The APM aims to ensure that the benefits of automation, big data, and information and communications technology are shared among all in society and that powerful new technologies are used to solve global challenges such as climate change, human health, and sustaining the ecosystem,” he added.
In his opening address, NTU Interim President Tei-Wei Kuo (郭大維) described universities as the cradle of knowledge, talent, innovation, exchange, and social justice, as well as the symbol of national capability in modern society, considering them obligated to give back to society and improve human life. However, the challenges we are facing, such as climate change and holistic health, are global issues that universities worldwide must join hands to address. Thus, NTU’s primary goal of hosting the APRU APM was to find solutions to current challenges and directions for future development through cooperation among world-leading universities.
The 2018 APRU APM was opened by NTU Interim President Kuo and APRU Chair, Chancellor Gene D. Block, UCLA on June 25. The session following the opening was a keynote speech delivered by NTU’s former President Pan-Chyr Yang (楊泮池) on the cutting-edge research and clinical translational medicine powered by Taiwan’s advancements in medical technology and the goal of using precision medicine to achieve precision health.
The two panels on June 25 were titled “Our Digital Future in a Divided World” and “Our Digital Future and Opportunities for Partnership,” both moderated by Louise Lucas, Asia Technology Correspondent of Financial Times. The two topics were respectively reviewed by Prof. Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence, UNSW Sydney; and Prof. Peter Cowhey, Dean of Global Policy and Strategy, US San Diego. As panelists, NTU’s Prof. Chang-Chuan Chan (詹長權; Dean of Public Health) and Prof. Jane Hsu (許永真; Department Chair of Computer Science and Information Engineering) illustrated the development and application of digital technology in Taiwan.
The topics of the two panels for the Presidential Forum on June 26 were “Public Trust and the Changing Role of Universities” and “Our Digital Future in a Divided World: Opportunities and Challenges for Research Universities.” Both panels were moderated by Ms. Yojana Sharma, Asia Director of University World News, where all participating presidents were invited to share their views. The participating APRU presidents also produced a joint statement emphasizing that universities are laboratories for developing new knowledge and innovation, and thus all have a stake at advancing technologies efficiently in a manner that benefits societies in a future of rapid technological and industrial changes.
While hosting the 22nd APRU APM, NTU is also celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and has received warm congratulations from all the APM participants. NTU has been a dedicated member since APRU’s establishment in 1997, having actively participated in various APRU meetings and organizing multiple international conferences and workshops. In the future, NTU will continue to be an active player in APRU to build more global connections, address global challenges, and showcase Taiwan’s research capacities and influence to the world.