Academic, corporate, political leaders gather in Brisbane to address global challenges

Washington University in St. Louis, University of Queensland co-host McDonnell International Scholars Academy symposium

Research universities, with their dual mission of educating future leaders and spurring innovation, are uniquely positioned to address some of the world’s most complex challenges. To strengthen this position, university leadership from around the globe will meet at The University of Queensland (UQ) from Sept. 22-25 to focus on how research universities can join forces to tackle the critical problems of the 21st century.

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy symposium, “Addressing Global Challenges Through International Collaboration in Education and Research” will focus on the following themes and how they are connected:

  • Aging
  • Food, water & climate change
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Public health

“These challenges go beyond what any country, let alone any university can tackle. They require new models for research and education, many of which demand global cooperation,” Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “This symposium, which we are proud to be hosting with The University of Queensland, provides the opportunity and structure to make that happen.”

“The aims of the McDonnell Academy and this international symposium align strongly with UQ’s mission of knowledge leadership for a better world,” said Peter Høj, vice chancellor of the University of Queensland. “We believe that a research university’s role is not only to solve the complex global problems, but to foster the next generation of problem solvers and leaders to create change and deliver impact to their local communities.”

Leadership from the 32 McDonnell Academy universities will come together with policymakers and corporate partners to discuss how interdisciplinary research and education collaboration can lead to innovative solutions for the most pressing global problems.

A key part of symposium discussions and workshops will be graduate students from around the world, including the McDonnell Academy Scholars, a cohort of graduate and professional students studying at Washington University from its network of partner universities.

In addition to experts from the symposium theme areas, notable symposium speakers include:

  • Glenys Beauchamp, secretary of the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; and
  • Dennis A. Muilenburg, chairman, president & CEO of The Boeing Company.

This is the sixth 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 as well as significant joint degree programs.

For more information about the symposium, visit Learn more about Washington University’s impact around the world at

The McDonnell international Scholars Academy 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 31 international research university partners , the academy selects students who are important to the research effort at the university and who can enhance the educational experiences of domestic students through sharing their culture, history, and politics of their countries.
The 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, a consortium of 29 leading global universities and corporate partners with the goal of collectively identifying and tackling important global energy and environmental challenges.
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