How Can Science And Technology Contribute To Socio-economic Development: YTGlobal Expert Explains

With the Youth Global Forum Dubai 2017 less than two months away, Youth Time International Movement are excited to invite experts and participants from all over the globe to share their knowledge, ideas, and cultural experiences. As we enter the final stretch before the event commences, we begin to interview the speakers and trainers who will pass on their expertise and advice to attendees. One of these experts is Professor. Shem Wandiga, Former Member of the General Committee and the Advisory Committee on Environment of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

Professor Wandiga will be delivering his key note speech on the topic, “The Interlinking World of Social Development with Science Technology and Innovation” in addition to hosting a workshop under the theme of, “Complex System Modelling”.This interview aims to provide Youth Global Forum participants with added insight and understanding as to what they can expect from Professor Wandiga’s trainings, in addition to learning how to best prepare for the event.

Professor. Wandiga, please share with us a short introduction about yourself, your career and areas of expertise.

I was born on 22nd September 1939 at Kendu Bay in Nyanza Province of Kenya. I did my early schooling at Simbi Primary School, Ongalo Primary School and Kamagambo Secondary School before going to Pine Forge Institute in Pennsylvania in the United States for the last two years of my secondary education. I joined Howard University in Washington DC for my first degree in Chemistry 1963-1967. I then studied my Master in Chemistry at University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland and PhD in Chemistry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

I returned to Kenya in 1972 and joined the University of Nairobi as a lecturer. I have risen through the rank at the same institution where I retired as Professor in 2000. I have been able to continue my career at the same institution as Professor on contract till today. I have a wife and three daughters and two boys.

My areas of expertise are Coordination Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, nanoscience and Climate Change. I have supervised students and published papers in these areas. In 2012 I was able to put together a team that started an Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation which today has 236 postdoctoral students including 11 foreign students.

What is it about the Youth Global Forum that interests you most?

I am delighted to be given the opportunity to share with the world youth my thoughts on great challenges science technology and innovation need to solve. The opportunity exists that humanity will reap benefits from the youth if they are trained in challenges posed by sustainable development goals which are only possible if investment in science technology and innovation is accepted by all nations.

Would you share with us a brief description of what your presentation on The Interlinking World of Social Development with Science Technology and Innovation” is going to be about? Will there be any particular area of focus?

The lecture will review the sustainable development goals and show that science technology and innovation is a major component of finding solutions to them. It will point out the limits of science technology and innovation by showing the problems arising from using innovations that are very useful but in the long run turns against the earth systems. The use of everyday chemicals widely used in low or high quantities and the combustion engine will be cited. The complexity of the knowledge systems requires group work as all the simple things have almost been discovered. The dynamic and complex earth systems exemplified by climate change challenges will be given. Lastly modeling of complex systems will be given in a work-out.

What lessons can participants expect to gain from your workshop and how will they best apply it in future endeavors?

The participant will gain the concepts of knowledge generation and sharing. Appreciation that each one of us has knowledge to give is part and parcel of transdisciplinarity that will be shared. The participants will appreciate the limits of science technology and innovation and also learn some of the mistakes we have done. Lastly analysis of dynamic complex systems like climate change will be appreciated.

Is there any advice you can offer in advance to Youth Global Forum participants before attending your workshop?

We live in interesting times with complex challenges and we can only solve them by educating the youth and the youth having open mind to seek new knowledge.

Photo: From archive of Professor Shem Wandiga

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