His Highness the Aga Khan is received by Dr Haile Debas, Chairman pro tem of the AKU Board of Trustees, as President Firoz Rasul looks on. AKDN / Jorge Simão
The Aga Khan University celebrated its partnership with Portuguese universities on research and development initiatives at a special event in Lisbon.
Attended by the University’s Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan, the AKU Board of Trustees, representatives from Portugal’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education; the Catholic University of Portugal; Nova University of Lisbon; and the Aga Khan Development Network, the evening included a keynote address by Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.
President Firoz Rasul highlighted how the values shared by AKU and its public and private sector partners in Portugal had acted as a driving force for a range of innovative projects.
“At the heart of our work is the conviction that an outstanding university, based in the developing world, can improve the quality of life for countless people,” said Mr Rasul. “But to do so, we believe it must do two things simultaneously: it must strive to achieve international standards of excellence, and it must address the problems that confront the societies in which it operates.”
Mr Rasul stated that AKU and its partners were working on a range of projects that aim to combat the effects of climate change, tackle the public health threat of infectious diseases in Africa, advance the study of regenerative medicine, and deepen our understanding of crucial periods in European and Asian history.
In his address, Carlos Moedas, recognised the role played by AKU’s Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan in building partnerships across cultures and borders.
He noted how innovation occurs at the intersections of various disciplines and geographies. Developing such initiatives requires a creative mindset, attention to detail, teamwork and a realisation that one needs to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds.
While quoting a speech by the Aga Khan on the importance of education in findings answers to society’s challenges, Mr Moedas said: “The deficit of knowledge is in many areas which are not being offered in education. What has been inherited is curricula of the past, reflections of the past, attitudes of the past rather than looking forward and asking what future generations need to know.”
He noted that: “And that discussion today which seems to be discussing about multilateralism or discussing politics, is actually not about politics. It’s about education and about education in a world that has changed so much but the educational systems didn’t change. And you look at the world that we were born, a world where everything was basically streamlined. Everything was about geography, about disciplines, about borders, and the world today is about intersections. And I think that that’s where education should be.”
Mr Rasul noted that a belief in the transformative potential of knowledge and in expanding access to opportunity and was central to the AKU’s founding in 1983 as Pakistan’s first university, and instrumental to its expansion across three continents since 2000.
He said: “We have awarded 15,000 degrees and diplomas to date – two-thirds of them to women. We treat 2 million patients per year at our hospitals, many of whom live in poverty… our alumni can be found at the world’s best hospitals and universities, as well as in remote schools and clinics in Asia and Africa. The health research of our faculty is internationally renowned, and has helped to save thousands of lives in disadvantaged communities.”
Read the full speech by Mr Carlos Moedas.Read the full speech by Mr Firoz Rasul.