Academic, corporate and policy leaders gather in St. Louis to sharpen role of research universities in addressing significant global challenges

Oct. 16-19 symposium, hosted by Washington University, to explore issues of aging; food and water; energy and environment; public health

Our 21st-century world faces seemingly insurmountable problems. It is a challenge simply to understand the breadth of the issues, let alone find sustainable and adoptable solutions. History has shown that no single entity, or even country, can do this alone. And the world’s research institutions — colleges and universities rich in diversity and scholarship — offer a unique combination of strengths and focus to lead.

With that purpose in mind, a consortium of international universities is convening at Washington University in St. Louis Oct. 16-19 for the Fifth International Symposium “The Role of Research Universities in Addressing Global Challenges.”

Research universities bring a breadth of knowledge, scholarship and research power and a dedication to training future leaders. What’s been missing — and what the symposium aims to address — is collaboration within universities themselves, with each other and with other stakeholders.

Sponsored by Washington University’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy, representatives from the 28 McDonnell Academy institutions will come together with policymakers, academic leaders, researchers, students and corporate partners to discuss how interdisciplinary research and education collaboration can lead to innovative solutions surrounding issues of:

  • aging;
  • food and water;
  • energy and the environment; and
  • public health.

“Research universities have many tools — scholarship, innovation, youthful vitality — that can address these challenges head on,” said Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

“International collaboration is key — bringing academic institutions together from around the world can only sharpen our focus and help bring about an immediate impact, both on these issues and the future of research universities.”

Notable symposium speakers include:

  • Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of Energy
  • Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of Science
  • Barbara Schaal, dean of Arts & Sciences at Washington University and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology
  • Brett D. Begemann, President & COO of Monsanto

In addition to Wrighton, heads from the following McDonnell Academy partner universities also will be presenting during the symposium. They are:

  • Ernest Aryeetey, University of Ghana
  • Ahmet Acar, Middle East Technical University
  • Gu Binglin, Tsinghua University
  • Peter Hoj, The University of Queensland
  • Uriel Reichman, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC)
  • Joseph Sung, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Devang Khakhar, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
  • S. Parasuraman, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Sudhir Sopory, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Yuliang Yang, Fudan University

This is the fifth major McDonnell Academy symposium. Past meetings have focused on energy and the environment and have led to significant academic collaborations around advancing solar technology and addressing the environmental impact of coal usage.

For more information about the symposium visit

About the McDonnell International Scholars Academy

The McDonnell international Scholars Academy at Washington University in St. Louis is an international scholarship program designed to attract the world’s best students to obtain graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis.

Working with 28 international research university partners, the academy selects students who are important to the research effort at Washington University and who can enhance the educational experiences of domestic students through sharing their culture, history, and politics of their countries.

Since 2007, 67 McDonnell Academy scholars recruited from the partner institutions have graduated and are now networked future leaders who can promote global awareness and social responsibility. There are 53 scholars currently in residence at Washington University. The unique platform provided by this set of partner institutions is also being harnessed to launch collaborated research on issues such as energy and environment, aging, and public health. A significant example of this is the McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environmental Partnership (MAGEEP).


MAGEEP is consortium of Washington University and 28 leading global universities and corporate partners with the goal of collectively identifying and tackling important global energy and environmental challenges in an integrated and holistic manner.

The partner institutions include 17 in Asia, two in Australia, four in the Middle East, two in Latin America, two in Europe, one in Africa, and one in the United States. For the full list of partner institutions and additional information on MAGEEP, visit