Join the remaining UCT GESDA Sunday sessions

20 July 2022

Dear colleagues and students

I have hosted two fascinating sessions thus far on how we can “use the science of the future to shape our present” lives. These sessions covered the themes of Quantum Revolution and Advanced AI, and Human Augmentation. I am hosting these sessions to deepen our understanding of how science might shape our future, and how we can use these predicted futures to shape the present. It is imperative that we as Africans ensure that the voices of Africa’s youth are part of and influence these conversations and decisions.

Many of us have healthy family members because of science. Many of us make healthier lifestyle choices because of science. Science has helped us to make sense of our changing world, and for humanity to advance. It is for these reasons, and many more, that I enthusiastically accepted the offer to serve on the Geneva Science Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) board. As I mentioned in a VC Desk earlier this month, GESDA is a Geneva-based ‘think and do tank’ and its mission is to anticipate, accelerate and translate into concrete actions the use of emerging science-driven topics. Together with GESDA, the University of Cape Town (UCT) recognises that it is critical for our inclusive development that the voices of Africa’s youth are heard when creating these concrete actions.

Join the conversation

The two remaining sessions will be livestreamed to Microsoft Teams and on UCT’s social media platforms over the last two Sundays in July. The sessions will address, from the GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar®:

  1. Eco-regeneration, Geoengineering & Space Resources
    Sunday, 24 July 16:00–17:00 SAST
  2. Science & Diplomacy
    Sunday, 31 July 16:00–17:00 SAST

This Sunday, I will be joined by Dr Adriana Marais, Dr Christopher Trisos and Dr Romaric Odoulami.

Dr Marais is a technologist and internationally renowned advocate for off-world exploration. In 2019, she founded Proudly Human, and she is currently leading the organisation’s Off-World Project, in preparation for extreme conditions on Earth and beyond.

Dr Trisos is director of the Climate Risk Lab at UCT’s African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI). The lab builds tools to predict when and where climate change risks appear, and how society can respond to climate risks in a way that is rapid, just and equitable. Before moving to ACDI, Christopher was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, University of Maryland, where his research focused on biodiversity, climate change and geoengineering.

Dr Romaric Odoulami is a junior researcher at UCT’s ACDI. He aims, through his research, to enhance human development outcomes in the context of climate change. Other research interests of his include improving knowledge on the possible impact of solar geoengineering on the future climate in Africa.

I invite everyone to join me online for these critical conversations.

Competition and prize

There is also a competition and incredible prize. After the four sessions we will announce the competition criteria. Young people (30 years old or younger) will be invited to submit their ideas on how they can use these sciences of the future to shape our present, based on any of the topics covered in the sessions.

The prize is an all-expenses paid trip to attend the GESDA Summit 2022, a global summit of thought leaders on these topics. The summit will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 12 to 14 October 2022. The Summit will bring together academics, politicians, diplomats, executives, and investors from around the world to participate in a series of plenary and parallel sessions of rich and engaged discussions.

UCT’s Vision 2030 envisages all of us playing a leading role in creating a fair and just society. Through these sessions we can learn how to do so using science to tackle social injustices and to realise intergenerational justice. By engaging with global and local thought-leaders, and together with GESDA we are working to make the intangible tangible, the unknown known, and the misunderstood understood.

I hope to see many more of you join the remaining conversations.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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