The Director recently participated in a new collaborative initiative between the University of Cambridge and The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. A series of lectures on sustainable development was sponsored by the Cambridge Malaysian Education and Development Trust in association with the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre directed by Dr Anil Seal, Fellow of Trinity College, who played an important role in initiating the event.

The lectures were hosted by the Pro-Chancellor of UKM, Tun. Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, and the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Wira Dr. Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin. The lectures took place over the period 8-10 March in Kuala Lumpur and were attended by a wide range of academics from local universities, including UKM, as well as representatives from local government ministries. The lecturers were Prof. Christopher Rapley, Professor of Climate Change at University College London, Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, and previously Director of the Science Museum, London, and Director of the British Antarctic Survey; Prof. Michael Norton from the Innovation Management Institute at Shinshu University, Japan; Prof. Sir Brian Heap FRS, formerly Master of St. Edmund’s College, Foreign Secretary of The Royal Society and founding Chair of the Faraday Institute Advisory Board; as well as the Director of The Faraday Institute.

Lecture topics ranged broadly across the field of sustainable development with a focus on the ethical challenges raised by contemporary science. Topics included climate science; sustainable consumption and production; stem cells and synthetic biology; and the role of genetically modified crops in helping to feed the world. The Institute Director’s lectures addressed the question of evolution and creationism, as well as the particular topic of human evolution and the challenges that it presents concerning questions of human value and identity. The final morning of the conference saw an extended round-table discussion chaired by the Vice-Chancellor in which there was a broad-ranging discussion of the various topics raised in the lectures.

It is expected that the conference will be the start of a series of collaborative events between Cambridge University and the Malaysian academic community.

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