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UWI Research Day highlights economic growth, alternative energy

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dr André Haughton
Kimani Kitson-Walters, University of the West Indies' thematic chaperone, explains the model for Smart Energy Efficient Housing for 2030 to Dr Burnett Burton (right) at UWI Research Day, held recently at the Mona campus. - Gladstone Taylor/ Photographer

What is UWI Research Day?

The University of the West Indies hosted its annual Research Day from February 19 to 21 under the theme: 'Fostering Growth and Development in Small Island Developing States' (SIDS).

The three days of events showcased the UWI research achievements and provided the public and stakeholders the opportunity to learn how the research of the university is applied across all disciplines and how it can potentially impact them or their businesses positively. This year, the events focused on the following areas: Opportunities for and challenges to economic growth and sustainable development in SIDS: competitiveness, productivity and innovation in a global environment, climate change, viable alternative energy options, ICT for development, communicable and non-communicable diseases and other health-related issues, and sports research testing and development.

Issues impacting the people and institutions driving development were also highlighted; including politics, governance and public institutions, labour productivity and human resource development, crime corruption and other antisocial behaviour, gender culture and ethnicity.

How did UWI present itself?

To kick-start the three days of activities, the UWI hosted a working luncheon with a group of interested researchers, professionals and investors.

Here, we presented and discussed a selection of UWI's current research innovations and their applicability, with the objective of soliciting funding to undertake new research, which will be mutually beneficial to the UWI and the investors.

Subsequently, the UWI had the official opening of the new state-of-the-art Faculty of Medical Sciences' Teaching and Research Complex, which was formally opened by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in a ceremony which included other local officials and representatives of the UWI, Mona, including Principal Archibald McDonald and dean of the faculty, Professor Horace Fletcher, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, the medical fraternity, other representatives of UWI, Mona, the media, donor partners, and corporate Jamaica.

How did the UWI and the public interact?

A donor investor opportunity lounge served as the central meeting space over the three-day period which facilitated one-on-one meeting scheduled between UWI researchers and the potential donors, investors, other professionals and users of research. Potential partners who attended based on their interest in specific research innovations by the university were engaged in specific discussions with a view of securing research funding and strategic mutually beneficial research.

What about the Caribbean economies?

The state of the Caribbean economy was also a priority on the agenda, as the UWI hosted the official launch and reception for the principal's initiative on Caribbean integration and the launch of the book titled Caribbean Integration: From Crisis to Transformation and Repositioning, edited by Sir Kenneth Hall and Myrtle Sang. Special guest speakers included Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, former governor general of Jamaica; P.J. Patterson, former prime minister of Jamaica; and Dr Iva Gloudon, high commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Jamaica.

What was the highlight?

Throughout the three days, each faculty hosted series of events to engage discussions on how the country and the Caribbean at large will move forward progressively. The Faculty of Social Sciences, in particular, hosted a forum under the theme 'Vision 2030: Not neglecting the youth perspective; a high achievers forum'. The youth in development forum focused on how the Jamaican youth can contribute to making Vision 2030 a reality.

The forum, hosted by the Department of Government's High Achievers Society, brought together a wide variety of perspectives from a panel representing different subject areas. Topics covered in the forum included livelihood and entrepreneurship, youth and climate change, gender and development, youth and political participation, youth values, youth crime and violence, youth and governance, attitudes and behaviour, youth and governance and youth volunteerism and civic engagement.

For the morning session, the sub-theme was 'Vision 2030: where are we'. Interesting perspectives were offered by the panellists, yours truly, who discussed facilitating youth innovation to drive economic development; Dr K'adamawe K'nife, who discussed how to move from entrepreneurship to enterprising; Dr Omar Hawthorn, who discussed youth and their role in minimising corruption in the long run; Dr Leahcim Semaj, who wants us to target the youngest and the brightest first; and Dr Terri-Ann Gilbert-Roberts, who discussed the overall importance of youth participation. Fundamentally, the forum highlighted that what we do to achieve the vision is more important than the vision itself. To achieve a vision, we must be on a mission; to be on a mission, we must be focused, tactical and strategic in our approach.

Dr Andre Haughton is a lecturer in the Department of Economics on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. Follow him on twitter @DrAndreHaughton; or email editorial@gleanerjm.com.