The first ever pan-scholarship Symposium, organised by Gates Scholars on 23 June this year, was such a success that it is set to become an annual fixture.
The event, entitled ‘Leadership for Positive Change’, brought together 60 students from Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, NIH and Gates scholarship programmes. Participants engaged in presentations and discussions about leadership and the challenges faced by future leaders, and covered issues such as the power of social entrepreneurship, the role of the media, science policy and democracy.
Lord May (former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, and former President of the Royal Society), spoke on science and leadership. Adele Blakebrough MBE, one of the UK’s leading social entrepreneurs, talked about leadership via social entrepreneurship. Mary Hockaday, Deputy Head of BBC Radio News, spoke on leadership and the changing face of international news media.
All three keynote speeches were followed by panel discussions led by groups of students from different scholarship programmes and varying subjects. This brought further life to each topic, as scholars drew on their research and on their own examples of leadership, ranging from work with AIDS charities to recent experiences in Zimbabwe.
Hamish Forsyth, Convener of the Symposium and External Officer of the Gates Scholars’ Council, said “The objective was to bring together people who share a common desire and capacity to be agents for positive change in their fields. We recognise that leading in any challenging area requires cross-disciplinary thinking and that it makes sense to connect with others who share a similar purpose.” In addition to the keynotes and panels, a symposium dinner and social function provided further opportunity for informal interactions.
Dr Gordon Johnson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, commended the symposium and expressed his hope that participants would leave with “new energy, new ideas, new collaborators, and a shared sense of belonging to a broader community of scholars committed to leading for positive change.”