Raising the sciences in africa

The Council and Foundation for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, Honoris’ latest academic partner, offers life-changing access to the world’s brilliant scientific minds
July 4th, 2019

In July, Honoris signed an agreement with The Council and Foundation for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings that will allow a delegation of the brightest African researchers in economics and the natural sciences to attend the prestigious annual gatherings held in Germany. The meetings offer delegates exposure to more than 50 of the most brilliant minds on the planet, all Nobel Laureates, as well as hundreds of other outstanding young scientists from 89 countries.

“The aim of the partnership from both Lindau Nobel’s and Honoris’ perspectives is nothing short of raising the sciences in Africa,” shared Luis Lopez, CEO of Honoris United Universities.

“Lindau brings together vanguard scientific leaders from across the globe, but Africa is under-represented. We can contribute to its mission because we have seen and worked with some of the best minds in our African institutions and ecosystems. Through these exceptional gatherings, Honoris will enable professionals and researchers from the continent to interact, exchange and learn with Nobel Laureates and other leading minds in their fields. To have our students or faculty sponsored to participate in this environment will be life-changing for them.”

Since its foundation in 1951, around 400 Nobel Laureates have attended the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, which are held each year as a forum for scientists of different generations, cultures and disciplines to convene and exchange knowledge, ideas and experiences.

The theme is alternated each year and is based on the three natural science Nobel Prize disciplines: physics, chemistry, and physiology and medicine. An interdisciplinary meeting based around all three natural sciences is held every five years and a Lindau Meeting on economic sciences is held every three years.

“Being able to give our students, faculty and alumni access to a world-class organisation like Lindau is absolutely in line with our levels of academic excellence and Honoris’ fundamental purpose – Education for impact,” said Mr. Lopez.

“The meetings are a unique opportunity, set up to promote intellectual exchange and connectivity among those who have very advanced academic credentials and are undertaking world-class research. It’s a one-week event, but what can stem from the relationships formed during this week with like-spirited individuals may be transformative, vastly expanding a student’s thinking, research objectives and professional intentions.”

As part of the agreement, Honoris and the Lindau Nobel Council and Foundation will rigorously select a delegation of students and postgraduates in science and economics from member institutions in Africa to attend future meetings, including the 70th edition that will cover all themes, due to take place in 2020.

Honoris faculty working on their own PhDs will be considered as potential delegates, or faculty may become involved as mentors, accompanying students sent to the meetings.

“It’s not only about Honoris sending its most brilliant students to the meetings, but what we may bring back – the gathering is a venue of potential future faculty and research teams, and they provide our leaders with the opportunity to connect with cutting-edge young scientists and advance their own fields and profession,” said Mr. Lopez.

Mr. Lopez also spent time during the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings with American Nobel Laureate Carl Weiman. Not only is Professor Weiman a leading light in physics but he is also redefining how science is taught in higher education institutions, replacing the traditional oracle at the front of the class with a much more experiential style of learning. Decision-making, which is a judgmental, emotional and analytical process rather than something that can be gleaned from data in a textbook, leads to expertise, and requires real-life practice. In education, students need real-life opportunities to put theory into practice and make mistakes in an ecosystem that supports hands-on learning, such as mentoring.

“We can integrate what Prof. Weiman has introduced at various institutions,” said Mr. Lopez. “Teaching should bring out the critical thinking and intellectual prowess of students rather than disengage them through memorisation or relentless iterations. Raising the profile of science in Africa starts with a practical view of the definition of expertise. We will be seeking to work further with Mr. Weiman as we go forward in the broad mission with the Lindau Nobel project.”