Wednesday, 2 April 2008


What's GUNI? It stands for Global University Network for Innovation. And UPC? In Spanish it is Universitas Politechnica Catalonia. In English it is translated to Technical Universiti of Catalonia. There are host for the GUNI Conference on Higher Education for Social and Human Development which I am attending now. My big boss asked me to represent USM and I submitted an abstract for a paper presentation. And then I looked at their website and discovered than more than 350 abstracts were submitted. And they only had space for about 52 presentations during the 6 parallel session workshops. Which is only 6 presentations for each workshop. So, I got knocked out. Then they agreed to let me put up a poster (seems some 300 proposals were also made). And I worked on my poster and submitted the PDF as required. Then about 3 or 4 days before conference, the organisers sent me an email saying (amongst others) ... " regarding your participation at the next GUNI Conference to inform you that we have a space available for presentation at the workshop session on “Higher education for sustainable development”. Taking into account that your paper stands among the best proposals according to the Scientific Committee’s evaluation, we would like to invite you to present your paper at this workshop. We would be honoured to count you among the authors presenting their paper at this workshop". They bold the text, no me. So, I am blowing my own trumpet.

Some 500 participants (including speakers) were listed from about 80 countries. Now that is a huge turnout of a conference where only about 50 or 60 people are allowed to speak ... well, present papers. And this also one of the issues highlighted about academia. We only send academics to conferences if they can justify the trip by presenting a paper. A panelist from India asked "why can't academics come just to listen" to what others have to say? Yes, why? The crowd is different. Some 50 rectors/VCs attended. And alot of very elderly gentlemen and ladies. And they come to listen, to ask questions and offer their opinions.

And guess what, I bumped into the UKM VC, her staff and a senior officer of MoHE. In fact, out of the 6 presentors in our session on higher education for sustainable development, 2 was from Malaysia. And after the workshop we went shopping. Apparently there were some "instructions" from home minister to buy olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and stuff. And then dinner was courtesy of MoHE ... I just tagged along lah.

The hall were the plenary sessions were conducted

On the left outside this picture, they set up a tent for lunch.
I love the reflection on the glass windows from different angles.

We can do this in Malaysia. The place would be steaming hot.
I actually sat down in the shade (what little of it) for lunch yesterday, with the cold wind blowing but it was lovely.

They seek the sun. Students enjoying lunching in the beautiful sunshine. Don't be deceived by the bright sunshine - it was very cold; about 13 or 14 C. I noticed that many of the students eating outside brought their own lunch in containers. Ah, buy UPC has still not banned polystyrene containers. Happily, the conference organisers opted for paper cups instead of the foam.

Beautiful bright sunshine during coffee break. Sorry about my mouth being open at the wrong time.
On my right is one of the high-powered women in Malaysia - the VC of UKM.

Me, on the left, presenting my paper at the GUNI Conference.


abe said...

Dr Lee,

congratulations..hope this will put our university and country on the fore front in issues regarding sustainability especially in context of universities. this is in line wit our motto 'we lead'. saw ur picture on pesentation..WHITE COFFIN? how i wish next time we can rock the world by sending students rather then academicians ONLY to talk in big conferences! well hoping to hear more from u when ur back! cheers!

PJ said...

Feel so proud of my uncle...

Hope you enjoyed Mont Serrat. It was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona when I was there.