The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Mona Campus has announced its partnership with the VM Group to host its Distinguished Lecture Series for the next five years.
The UWI Mona Campus, recognising the important role of public advocacy and thought leadership in advancing social progress, will be embarking on a series of conversations to bring the wealth of knowledge generated within the academy to the people it serves, through this Distinguished Lecture Series. The series will promote increased awareness and drive conversations on matters of national, regional, and global concern.
Speaking to the importance of this initiative a the Launch, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Mona Campus, Professor Densil A. Williams said: “Universities were not designed or established to serve themselves, they were really designed to produce knowledge and use that knowledge to make the lives of people much better. That knowledge cannot be cocooned into some private enterprise or in some private places or into what is usually called the ‘Ivory Tower’.
“The general idea behind this lecture series is to say how we are now going to get the persons within the community who are actually engaged in scholarly scientific research to bring that knowledge to the public and to do so at no cost to them. So the aim is to get the best within the academic community sharing the knowledge with our people so that they can be much more engaged with the critical issues at the national, regional and global level, Prof Williams explained.
“The UWI Mona and VM Group Distinguished Lecture Series is a campus-wide initiative that will bring “gown” to “town” to provide our citizens, and policymakers at national and enterprise levels with rich empirical information generated from rigorous scholarly works to assist them in making better and more informed decisions.
With reference to the UWI Mona/VM Partnership, Prof Williams said: “I am particularly pleased to see the commitment of corporate Jamaica to this initiative. It did not take much to convince Mr Courtney Campbell and his team at VM Group to join us in bringing knowledge to the people. Our eternal gratitude to the VM Group and we look forward to other private sector entities joining with the campus in other areas as we launch more transformative initiatives in service of our people.”
The UWI Mona/VM Group Distinguished Lecture Series envisions collaborative efforts between The UWI Mona Campus and Corporate Jamaica to host these intellectually stimulating events. The partnership with The VM Group will deepen the ties with industry and alumni.
Speaking at the Launch, VM Group President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Courtney Campbell, noted that The UWI Mona/VM Group Distinguished Lecture Series reflects the organisation’s role as a champion of empowerment. “We describe ourselves as a ‘Learning Organisation’ because we understand the value of continuous learning and improvement. We have seen the effects of this within our business and in the lives of our Members and Clients with whom we routinely engage with thoughtfully designed financial education initiatives.
“Knowledge transforms lives and nations, and we are pleased to partner with The UWI Mona Campus on this important series to help showcase and leverage the extensive knowledge that resides within Corporate Jamaica and The UWI Mona Campus to help create a better tomorrow for us all,” Mr Campbell said.
The UWI Mona/VM Group Distinguished Lecture Series will see internationally renowned academics, both within the UWI system and beyond, along with esteemed policy experts from the public and private sectors bringing thought leadership to the public.
Also addressing the Launch attendees was Deputy Principal of The UWI Mona Campus, Dr Tomlin Paul who said The UWI/VM Distinguished Lecture Series should be seen as a testament and a celebration of The UWI Mona and The UWI at large. He said here at UWI, alignment with industry oftentimes results in returns on the commercialization of research knowledge, new products, realigning workforce by building better capacity and of course revenue. Partnership on thought leadership, he said, supports and goes beyond this.
“Thought leadership in itself and disseminating new knowledge is the aim of this Distinguished Lecture Series and the VM Group will help us to bring scholars forward to talk about their work and motivate others. In all of this process, getting people excited about ideas and innovations. I dare say that down the road there is going to be a connection with the other products of academic and industry partnership.”
“Everything starts with a thought. The research that you do, someone, somewhere, maybe over a cup of coffee, was thinking: ‘why don’t we do this?’ And so, fertilizing, fermenting and building the energy around thought and partnership is critical to the academy. Someone once said, that ‘with rare exceptions, all of our achievements on this planet will come from working with others, or in one word: partnership.’ And so this is a moment of celebration to hear the VM Group say, we are willing to partner with you,” Dr Paul said.
The UWI Mona/VM Group Distinguished Lecture Series will occur at least once per academic year, with the potential for up to two lectures with one hosted each semester. The inaugural lecture is expected to take place on September 13, 2023, with a globally respected development economist delivering the keynote address.
“We are living in an age now where the idea of truth and rigorous interaction with information and data are under serious threat. If we are going to make sure that we make informed decisions and make proper decisions about how we are going to shape society going forward, there is no escaping doing some serious intellectual engagements with the information out there,” Professor Williams commented in closing.