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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Festival of Thinkers

Published: 17 January 2012

Last month the Faculty proudly supported two of its PGT students in travelling to the biannual Festival of Thinkers event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This unique event is hosted by the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with lateral thinking expert Doctor Edward de Bono.

This was an opportunity not-to-be-missed for our two students to interact with and learn from some of the world's leading thinkers including many Nobel Laureates.

The three-day event aimed to inspire promising students to use constructive and lateral thinking while exploring potential solutions for the world's challenges. This year's Festival discussed critical challenges and opportunities for the world such as research and innovation, sustainable development, health and wellness and the economic future of the world.

Over 40 Nobel Laureates have attended since 2005 along with more than 250 world thinkers including top CEOs of major global corporations, artists, media leaders, socio-political leaders, sports stars and adventurers.

Jo Shim, one of our PhD research students at Health Sciences, recalls the experience of attending the Festival...


The philosophy of this year's Festival of Thinkers event held in Abu Dhabi was to ‘Inspire, Innovate and Invent'. On this occasion, there is no word more befitting as I was definitely inspired- Inspired to yield knowledge and to act on it.

Against a backdrop of Nobel Laureates, international award-winning guest speakers and distinguished guests renowned in their own disciplines, the 2011 Festival of Thinkers ceremony served as a celebration of knowledge and thinking that provoked much debate and questions for the future. With the repertoire of prestigious ‘thinkers' invited to the event, it was not difficult to leave one feeling extremely privileged and humbled at the same time.

Abu Dhabi is an opulent city adorned with beautiful modern architecture that has an air of luxury about it. I got to experience the cultural and artistic performances of the UAE in the Gala dinner which was further enlivened by magnificent displays of fireworks. The grandeur of the whole event was easily overwhelming, thanks to the generosity of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan, Minister of HE and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology. His Excellency's vision for this whole event was to achieve fresh insights into global issues especially in this ‘Education' century.

I met student delegates from all corners of the globe whom I shared views and ideas with in the workshops and enjoyed exploring Abu Dhabi with- desert and all. Abu Dhabi offered plenty of excitements such as camel riding, sand boarding, safaris and dune bashing outside of the conference.

As I said in my closing speech; "the seeds of intellect and the seeds of knowledge have been sown and I look forward to a better future. It is truly a time for actions and change".  Such event with strong emphasis on creative and intellectual thinking to better the world suggests to me that there is much to be optimistic about in the future. 

This had been a remarkable adventure both academically and socially. And I only have the Faculty of Health Science of Southampton University to thank for it for presenting me this opportunity.


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