Dr Gordon Johnson attends UniverCities Conference in Singapore

Gordon Johnson in Singapore

The former President of Wolfson College (1993-2010) took a quick trip to Singapore to attend the fourth UniverCities Conference organised by alumnus and former Visiting Fellow Anthony Teo.

Gordon Johnson in Singapore

Mr Anthony Teo Soon Chye is a Harvard-trained banker, consultant, entrepreneur-turned-educator who holds the position of Adjunct Professor at Singapore University of Social Sciences. He was at Wolfson from 2009-2010 when he began the project that became UniverCities. In 2013, Anthony published a collection of papers Univer-Cities - strategic implications for Asia - readings from Cambridge and Berkeley to Singapore for which then-Vice Chancellor, Wolfson Emeritus Fellow Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, provided the introduction and Gordon contributed an essay on Cambridge: from Medieval market town to university city.

Following the publication of the papers, an inaugural UniverCities Conference was held at the Nanyang Technical University (NTU), Singapore, under the auspices of Nanyang Technological University and the Lee Foundation in Singapore. This conference in turn was succeeded by a third at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, again with a keynote address by Sir Leszek and a message of greeting from the President of Wolfson, Professor Jane Clarke. Gordon's paper for this event was Medicine in Cambridge

The conference focussed on universities and cities and the role each can play in furthering social benefit and using knowledge, especially the new technologies, to advantage. This year featured a special focus on life-long learning, the skills needed for modern work, and, above all, the massive problem of how to deal with unacceptable poverty and growing inequalities — both within societies and between different countries of the world as we face challenges of understanding disruptive technologies, climate change, and of barriers to fair access to education and health care.

Wolfson continues to play a part in the UniverCities project. Sir Leszek once more sent a keynote address which Gordon read on his behalf at the opening session. Gordon also appeared on the local radio station CNA to discuss the project, and he chaired and contributed to panel which included the following:

Professor James Best, the Dean of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at NTU (the top graduate of the school will be awarded the Anthony Teo-Gordon Johnson Prize enabling them to undertake an internship at Addenbrooke’s in 2020); Mr John Parman and Ms Emily Marthinsen from the University of California at Berkeley, who are planners and architects and discussed the physical development of the campus to make it more open, both to facilitate the exchange of ideas between departments and disciplines, and to extend the use of its facilities to the surrounding community; Professor Frank Ruhli, Director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich; and Professor Caroline McMillan, formerly Vice Chancellor of the University of Newcastle and now occupying the senior role as Scientific Officer in South Australia.   

Gordon says,

"The conferences have been extraordinarily interesting and stimulating, not least because of the broad view they have taken of the relationship between universities and the cities, regions, nations, and international communities they serve. And the comparative material has been of particular value - based mainly on what has been happening in Cambridge, Singapore, and California, but with significant insights from Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Zurich. The next step is to set up a small number of focussed research projects to tackle particularly aspects of these matters."

Gordon will give a lecture in the Lee Hall on Thursday 28 November, Cambridge Transformed: Town and Gown in the twentieth century.


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