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2022 University Global Partnership Network Conference Highlights Sustainability Efforts

From March 14-24, over 400 faculty, staff and students from the universities of the University of Surrey (U.K.), University of Wollongong (Australia), the Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil) and NC State participated in this year’s virtual 2022 University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) conference. Senior Vice Provost, Dr. Bailian Li, was the chair of this year’s conference which discussed the big picture of how UGPN partnerships can make a difference to sustainability in research and education. 

Dr. Bailian Li, chair of this year's UGPN conference during the opening session on March 14, 2022.
Dr. Bailian Li, chair of this year’s UGPN conference during the opening session on March 14, 2022.

2022 Conference Focus

Over the course of eight days, conference participants were able to choose from 18 workshops to connect with colleagues in the following areas:  

Research themes

  • Energy futures
  • Urban resilience
  • Global water, sanitation and hygiene (Global WaSH)
  • Sustainable and inclusive approaches to battle health inequalities

Innovation Themes and Special Interest Groups

  • Embedding Sustainability into curriculum design and delivery
  • University operationalization of sustainability: Best practice
  • Student and staff mobility
  • Collaborative education

Participation by NC State Faculty and Staff

Prof. Francis L. de los Reyes III, Glenn E. and Phyllis J. Futrell Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering, Associate Faculty of Microbiology, Training faculty in Biotechnology a University Faculty Scholar, TED Fellow, WEF Fellow and leader of the Global WaSH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) cluster presented a plenary session meeting on the Global WaSH challenge on day 2 of the conference. In addition, Professor de los Reyes III also lead a collaborative 3-workshop series on Global WaSH with Dr. Ayse Ercumen, Dr. Raymond Guiteras, and Dr. Sasha Zhao, focused on bringing together UGPN researchers from all disciplines interested in finding ways to collaborate on finding creative, transformative, and sustainable solutions that address the challenge of meeting SDG #6 (access to water and sanitation for all).

Prof. Francis de los Reyes III leading a 3-day workshop series on global WaSH.
Prof. Francis de los Reyes III leading a 3-day workshop series on global WaSH.

Carla Davis, Director of NC State’s University Sustainability Office, lead a workshop titled, University Operationalisation of Sustainability: Best Practice with Tom Parrott, a colleague from the University of Surrey. The workshop discussed incorporating sustainability in campus operations to advance sustainability at universities. This session highlighted examples of university progress in moving toward net-zero carbon, connecting curriculum with the SDGs (see NC State’s Sustainable Development Goals Course Inventory), and ways students and faculty are involved in real-world application of sustainability on campus.

A workshop focused on student and staff mobility was led by Tim Rose (Global Training Initiative) with colleagues from partner institutions, Liz Lynch, Ashley Tanks and Paulo Henrique Braz da Silva. Their workshop focused on sharing strategies, current programs and future plans to foster student mobility yielding concrete ideas to implement at prospective home institutions as well as programs at partner universities that students could join.

Dr. Karl Jicha participated in a panel on collaborative education in virtual settings. Members of the UGPN education group shared their experiences in creating a UGPN Academy that represents a consortium of staff/faculty and students who possess a desire to connect and create meaningful connections and interactions.

Finally, Dr. Karen Bullock and Dr. Catherine Hoyo served as panelists for a workshop on Understanding and Tackling the Global Burden of Cancer led by University of Surrey colleagues Dr. Katriina Whitaker and Prof. Hardev Pandha under the conference theme of sustainable and inclusive approaches to battle health inequalities. The session highlighted current multi-disciplinary research focusing on tackling the global burden of cancer, with a view to understanding and reducing inequalities in cancer outcomes. 

Dr. Catherine Hoyo participating in the Understanding and Tackling the Global Burden workshop of Cancer workshop on March 23, 2022.
Dr. Catherine Hoyo participated in the Understanding and Tackling the Global Burden workshop of Cancer workshop on March 23, 2022.

NC State Global wants to thank all NC State participants who helped contribute to a successful conference that would not have been possible otherwise.

The UGPN Research Collaboration Fund

The UGPN Research Collaboration Fund (RCF) is a joint initiative among all four UGPN partners that supports high-quality research collaboration tackling key global issues. The RCF has been an integral part of the network since its inception in 2011. Providing starter funds of up to $10,000 per participating project partner, the fund supports bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral collaborative research interactions.

The 2022 UGPN RCF is now open and accepting proposals through May 16

For the RCF 2022 call, the network would, particularly welcome proposals which:

  • contribute to research areas ‘sustainable planet’ or ‘industries for the future’ and/or;
  • are multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary across STEM/Social Sciences/ Humanities

Additionally, funding will support costs for: travel and subsistence associated with researchers spending time at partner institutions, organizing workshops (virtual or face to face), consumables directly related to the project, and costs for dissemination of results (publication, media, etc.).

About the UGPN

The University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) sets out to create a foundation for international collaboration enabling academics, researchers, staff and students to work together on issues of global importance. Currently, the UGPN includes four partner universities: North Carolina State University (USA), Universidade de São Paulo (USP, Brazil), University of Surrey (UOS, U.K.), and University of Wollongong (UOW, Australia). The network expands our collective reach and provides a unique platform for multilateral engagement. Fostering collaborative research between UGPN partner universities is an important priority for the network and is achieved by facilitating faculty and research connections at international meetings, seminars and workshops as well as providing seed funds to launch new research projects.