24 Apr 2011:
In its 10th year, the 6th biennial conference Education Without Borders 2011 (EWB 2011), proved to be the biggest in the conference’s short history with a diverse range of students, mentors and ideas converging on the Dubai Men’s College campus for the 3-day international student conference.
Under the theme of Innovative Solutions to Global Challenges … Diverse Perspectives; Unified Action the 2011 conference continued the work of the 2009 EWB conference by having more than 1000 student delegates and 100 mentors looking at some of the world’s most urgent man-made and natural issues currently facing the Earth and its populations. The conference centered around five sub-themes:
- Education: Enhancing Access; Ensuring Student Success;
- Economics: Harnessing Entrepreneurship for Positive Impact;
- Science, Engineering & Technology: Solutions for a Better Future;
- New media: Enabling and Educating Learners;
- Policy: Innovating New Frameworks for Sustainable Development.
It saw 36 international students present their detailed papers on solutions to issues pertaining to the five sub-themes. These student presenters were selected through a rigorous judging process, which saw close to 4000 student applications be sorted to 700 paper submissions and then 36 international presenters.
The conference was an interesting mix of plenary sessions, student paper presentations, workshops, networking opportunities and for students to be heard as the voices of the future leaders. EWB 2011 was held under the patronage of the President of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan and as it was of special significance to the UAE. It was officially opened in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai and H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology presented the keynote address.Not only did the conference delegates have the opportunity to engage in rigorous and enjoyable academic and theoretical exchanges between students, mentors and world leaders but they also go to witness some spectacular entertainment at the Opening Ceremony and the Gala Dinner.
In his address H.E. Sheikh Nahayan said the conference reflected the comprehensive development of the UAE characterized by education, innovation and initiative, thanking H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his support.
“In light of his keenness to strengthen the role of youth in the world development process and instill leadership qualities in them as they are the tool of change for the betterment of society, it is our collective duty to provide them with all opportunities for dialogue and discussion so as to ensure their interaction and communication across borders and distances, addressing all issues and challenges intelligently and being constantly a source of goodness and giving for their countries and the whole world,” Sheikh Nahayan said.
In keeping with the epic proportions of the Burj Khalifa the EWB opening ceremony featured a 60m-long interactive screen which had the audience of more than 2000 dignitaries, world leaders in business, academics, government, the environment and society, students and guests in awe of the technology on show in the 2-hour presentation.
The Opening Ceremony was a powerful mix of traditional Emirati culture, music and performances and an array of international highlights in a visual and aural spectacular. One feature of the opening extravaganza was the breathtaking horse show, featuring Arabian thoroughbreds performing to pulsating music, followed by a dynamic and futuristic light show and show-stopping fireworks. It also featured World Student Organizing Committee members Maddie Kane (New York University), Allan Babor (University of Waterloo), Amira Choueiki (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Lotifa Begum (University College London) welcoming guests and speaking about the program.
One of the outstanding performances during the evening was the record breaking feat by internationally famous solo rock and skyscraper climber Alain Robert, dubbed “The French Spider-Man”, who created history in a daring seven-hour ascent of the 828m-tall building.
Alain Robert, 48, who has been climbing since his teenage years has scaled more than 100 of the world’s tallest buildings including the second to fifth highest structures, often without the aid of safety harnesses, successfully scaled the exterior of the Burj Khalifa as part of EWB 2011 in just over seven hours.
M. Robert was given approval to climb the Burj Khalifa and in doing so he reacquainted himself with the EWB conferences. As part of the 2003 EWB conference Robert climbed the 173-metre National Bank of Abu Dhabi building, watched by almost 100,000 spectators. That was his first climbing foray with the EWB conferences, returning for the 2005 event where he climbed the 160-metre Etisalat building in Abu Dhabi. For the 2007 EWB he climbed the 185-metre ADIA building, also in Abu Dhabi.
Robert has climbed the Eiffel Tower, Paris; the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the Sydney Opera House, Australia; the Sears Tower, Chicago and the 88-storey Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, China (wearing a Spider Man suit) to name a few buildings during his climbing career. For his Burj Khalifa climb he used a rope and harness, as opposed to his preferred method of just his bare hands and sturdy footing.
As part of the student conference winners of each of the categories for paper presentations were announced. The following student paper presenters were named as winners:
|Policy||Cesar Rene Hernandez||USA||University of South Florida||Undocumentary|
|Science, Engineering, Technology||Adebimpe Gloria Adeleke||Canada||SAIT||The advent impact, sustainability and feasibility of low technology solar lamps in rural Africa|
|Economics||Khaled Gad||France||Amsterdam University College||Promoting positive participation in life|
|Media||Maria Del Rocio Paniagua Dispa||Mexico||El Colegio de Mexico||Ntalk: a way to revive communities and improve safety|
|Education||Varun Arora||India||Carnegie Mellon University||The open curriculum project|
|Emirati Student||Fatima Mohammed Al Nuaimi||UAE||Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah Women’s College||Access to Health Care in the UAE|
|Overall Best paper||Maria Del Rocio Paniagua Dispa||Mexico||El Colegio de Mexico||Ntalk: a way to revive communities and improve safety|
There were four Emirati students as presenters, all from the HCT. They were Fatima Al Nuaimi (ADWC);
Jassim Al Hammadi (SMC); Salwa Al Blushi, Alya Harbi and Bashayer Al Zaabi (all from SWC).
At EWB 2011 there were a number of outstanding presenters and mentors who assisted the student delegates to discuss and devise strategies for the implementation of ideas to meet the world’s challenges. The inspiring mentors include Dr. Mark Plotkin, President of the Amazon Conservation Team; CNN Hero Evan Wadongo; Yolande Kakabadse, President WWF International; and inspirational and amusing young writer and speaker Adora Svitak to name a few.
An associated event, the EWB World Forum, was held at the Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa on the second day of the conference, where Heads of State, business executives, and other influential thought leaders from around the world met to discuss the impact of globalization on education and capacity development. The keynote speaker was The Right Honorable Tony Blair, Quartet Representative to the Middle East & Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
In 2001 there were 200 students in attendance at EWB, representing a handful of countries, eager to share their thoughts and ideas about how to deal with the world’s most pressing social, economic and environmental issues. It is unique in that it is designed by students for students with the objective to create networks across cultures so that they may understand, and generate solutions for, some of the world’s greatest challenges. This is achieved by engaging the world’s most innovative students and leaders in the business, technology, education, and humanitarian sectors in a collaborative forum that culminates in a commitment to action.
Eight years later EWB 2009 also saw over 1,000 students from 120 countries and 300 universities participate, and over 550 student papers submitted.
HCT Vice Chancellor and EWB Chairman Dr Tayeb Kamali said the conference days were a huge success for all involved and those attending.
“The conference provided a sustained period of thought-provoking discussions and debates, interesting and relevant presentations and the creation of lasting networks of like-minded people, young and old, all aiming for a better world to live in,” he said.
Dr Tayeb Kamali said the biennial EWB conference had grown rapidly since its humble beginnings in 2001.
“This is, indeed, a great moment. As we celebrated the 10th anniversary, it gave us all an opportunity to recognize that the conference has grown exponentially in the number of students, speakers and mentors to become one of the world’s foremost student-organized forums – an event where students from around the world, and from different backgrounds, join as one voice to pursue Innovative Solutions to Global Challenges,” Dr Kamali said.
“Given that it is a student organized event, it is not hard to understand that EWB has grown so rapidly from a small number of students in 2001 to this year’s event, where we hosted more than 1000 students from 130 nations and 300 universities during the conference. There are 36 members of the World Student Organizing Committee (WSOC), which is the largest in the history of EWB and is indicative of how much the conference has grown.”