Samir Saran speaks on Sustainable Future Technology at the Institute for Advanced Social Science, Fudan University, China.
At 7:00 p.m., December 18, 2009, Professor Govindan Parayil’s lecture began. Currently Vice-Rector of the United Nations University (UNU) and Director of the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), he has held academic positions at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Oslo, the National University of Singapore, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. With a number of publications, he is editing for several international journals and serving on advisory councils of international research institutes.
Guo Sujian, Distinguished Professor of Fudan University and Associate Dean of IAS-Fudan, was the guest commentator; President Sunjoy Joshi and Vice President Samir Saran of the Observer Research Foundation of India were also invited as guests of honor to attend the forum.
Professor Govindan Parayil’s lecture centered on the following main points. First, he pointed out that in today’s polarized world, science and technology is the main driving force behind opulence and advancement. On this basis, Professor Govindan Parayil introduced the aim and strategy of “driving sustainable development through science and technology” which the United Nations University and its Institute of Advanced Studies had been unswervingly promoting. He said that free sharing and circulating of science and technology, especially its communication and circulation between poor and rich countries, was of great importance in dealing with the three major challenges (including issues of poverty, climate change and decrease of biological diversity) confronted in the present society’s sustainable development.
In view of that, he expounded on the far-reaching influence and necessity of sharing and circulation of science and technology from a historic perspective, noting that one important implication of globalization was fair sharing and circulation of science and technology and that the United Nations University and its affiliated Institute of Advanced Studies were committed to promoting coordinated efforts between governments or social areas to achieve free and fair circulation of science and technology and accelerate the realization of a society of sustainable development.
Commentator Professor Guo Sujian pointed out that the negative effects caused by science and technology must not be ignored. To him, science and technology was not an elixir and many other factors, such as social values, life style, institutional arrangement, cultural traditions, historic factors and market mechanism and so on, were playing an important role in a society’s sustainable development.
Finally, Professor Deng Zhenglai, Chair of the lecture, made a brief yet thought-provoking summary of this lecture. He said that though people were promoting sustainable development because of the current unsustainable development largely caused by advancement of science and technology, man still had to resort to science and technology to solve tricky issues of unsustainability and realize sustainable development. He put forward two questions: What’s the difference between the former and latter kinds of scientific and technological knowledge? Are they both manipulated by “views of progress” and trying to control the knowledge of the human world?