The World Universities Forum will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations, by researchers and practitioners.

Brenda Gourley
Richard Larkins
Ashok Misra
Mahmood Mamdani
Lord Bhikhu Parekh
Deepak Pental
Mark Wrighton

Garden Conversations

Plenary Speakers will make formal 30-minute presentations. They will also participate in 60-minute Garden Conversations - unstructured sessions that allow delegates a chance to meet the speakers and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

Please return to this page for regular updates.


The Speakers

Brenda Gourley

Professor Brenda Gourley has been Vice-Chancellor of The Open University since 2002. She shares with The Open University a social justice agenda and a belief in education as a tool to tackle growing inequalities in the global society. Professor Gourley is a member of the board of the International Association of Universities and the Longer Term Strategy Group of Universities UK. She chairs the Association of Commonwealth Universities as well as the Talloires Network’s Global Project on literacy. A frequent speaker on a broad range of platforms and issues as well as a contributor to publications around the world, Professor Gourley has also received honorary degrees from the University of Nottingham, University of Abertay, Richmond University, and Allama Iqbal Open University. She has been named as one of the Global Business Network’s ‘remarkable people’. Professor Brenda Gourley was previously Vice-Chancellor at the University of Natal for eight years. Professor Gourley is a qualified Chartered Accountant and began her career in the private sector before moving into academia.

Richard Larkins

Professor Richard Larkins AO commenced as Vice-Chancellor at Monash University on 1 September 2003. Professor Larkins has had a distinguished career in medicine, scientific research and academic management. From 1998 to 2003 he was Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne and held the James Stewart Chair of Medicine at Royal Melbourne Hospital from 1984 to 1997. His research and clinical work were in diabetes and endocrinology. In 1982 Professor Larkins was awarded the Eric Susman Prize for medical research and in 2002 he was awarded the Sir William Upjohn Medal for distinguished services to medicine and a Centenary of Federation Medal. Professor Larkins was a member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council from 1977-2000, President of the Endocrine Society of Australia from 1982-1984, chairman of the Accreditation Committee of the Australian Medical Council from 1991 to 1995, chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia from 1997-2000, a member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council from 1997-2000, and President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians from 2000-2002. In 2002 Professor Larkins was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to medicine and health.

Ashok Misra

Professor Misra obtained a PhD in 1974 in Polymer Science & Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a B.Tech. in 1968 in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He also completed the Executive Development Program in 1999 at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, Illinois. He has been at IIT Delhi since 1977, most recently as Dean, Alumni Affairs & International Programs. Previously, he was the Head of the Center for Polymer Science & Engineering from 1991 to 1994, and a Professor since 1986. He has also been a Visiting Scientist at the Monsanto Chemical Company in Springfield, Massachusetts, for many years. He previously worked at Monsanto as a Senior Research Polymer Scientist from 1974 to 1977.

Amongst Prof. Misra’s professional affiliations, he is a Senior Member of the Society of Plastics Engineers, a Member and International Representative of the Polymer Processing Society, a Member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society of North America, and a Fellow and Life Member of the Society of Polymer Science, India. He has been recognized as a Fellow, Indian National Academy of Engineering, elected 1995. He has also been elected as a Visiting Fellow Commoner, Trinity College, Univ. of Cambridge, UK, 1999. He won the Prof. M. Santappa Silver Jubilee Award given by The Society for Polymer Science, India, in recognition of “Outstanding Research and Leadership in Polymer Science”, 1991. His research interests include engineering polymers, polymer blends/alloys, fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites, liquid crystal polymers & their blends, structure-property correlations, polymer rheology & processing and incremental drawing of synthetic fibres and polymer product design.

Besides having been published 70 times in international journals and having been awarded 6 patents, Prof. Misra has written two books. He wrote “Relationship of Material Properties to Structure and Estimation of Polymer Properties” jointly with Don J. David in 1999, and a second book titled “Polymer Processing Analysis” is under preparation.

Mahmood Mamdani

Mahmood Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government in the Departments of Anthropology and Political Science at Jind University in the United States. He is also the Director of Columbia’s Institute of African Studies. He is the current President of the Council for Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA) Dakar, Senegal. Mamdani’s reputation as an expert in African history, politics and international relations has made him an important voice in contemporary debates about Africa. His book Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism won the 1998 Herskovits Award of the African Studies Association of the USA. In 2001, he was one of nine scholars to present at the Nobel Peace Prize Centennial Symposium. He has been named as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by the US magazine Foreign Policy in May 2008 and the UK magazine Prospect in July 2008.

Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Educated at the Universities of Bombay and London, Lord Bhikhu Parekh is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the ParekhAcademy of the Learned Societies for Social Sciences and a Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Westminster. Lord Parekh was chair of the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (1998-2000), whose report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, was published in 2000. He is vice-chairman of the Gandhi Foundation, a trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust, and a member of the National Commission on Equal Opportunity. His main academic interests include political philosophy, the history of political thought, social theory, ancient and modern Indian political thought, and the philosophy of ethnic relations. Professor Parekh is the author of Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory (2000); Gandhi (2001); Colonialism, Tradition and Reform (1999); Gandhi’s Political Philosophy (1989); Contemporary Political Thinkers (1982); Karl Marx’s Theory of Ideology (1981); and Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy (1981). Lord Parekh has received many awards throughout his career: the Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for lifetime contribution to political philosophy by the Political Studies Association (2002); the Distinguished Global Thinker Award by the India International Centre Delhi (2006); the Inderdependence Prize from the Campaign for Democracy (New York, 2006), and the Padma Bhushan honours in the 2007 Indian Republic Day Honours list.

Deepak Pental

Professor Deepak Pental, Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi is a distinguished Scientist in Genetics. He commenced his career as a research fellow with the University of Delhi in the year 1978 and has held many posts including Professor, Department of Genetics, University of Delhi, South Campus; Dean, faculty of Interdisciplinary and Applied Sciences, University of Delhi, South Campus; Director, Centre for geneteic manipulation of Crop Plants and Director, University of Delhi, South Campus. He is an elected member of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, Indian Academy of Sciences and Indian National Science Academy. He has been the member of the CSIR and the Editorial Board of Journal of Biosciences and Current Sciences. He was awarded Biotechnology Career Fellowship in 1986 by Rockefeller Foundation to work at Max-Planck Institute in Köln. He has coordinated two national network programmes.

Mark Wrighton

Professor Mark Wrighton received his B.S. degree with honors in chemistry from Florida State University in 1969. Upon graduation received the Monsanto Chemistry Award for outstanding research. He did his graduate work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) receiving his Ph.D. there in 1972. He was named the first recipient of the Herbert Newby McCoy Award at Caltech based on his research accomplishments. He received an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of West Florida in 1983 and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Florida State University in 2007. Chancellor Wrighton was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Caltech in 1992. In 2002, he was named an Honorary Professor at Shandong University in Jinan, China.

Wrighton started his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1972 as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He was appointed Associate Professor in 1976 and Professor in 1977. From 1981 until 1989 he held the Frederick G. Keyes Chair in Chemistry. In 1989 he was appointed the first holder of the Ciba-Geigy Chair in Chemistry. He was Head of the Department of Chemistry from 1987-1990 and became Provost of MIT in 1990, a post he held until the summer of 1995.

Wrighton is the author or co-author of more than 300 articles published in professional and scholarly journals, and he holds 14 patents. He has research interests in the areas of transition metal catalysis, photochemistry, surface chemistry, molecular electronics, and in photoprocesses at electrodes.

He was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, 1974-1976, and was the recipient of a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Grant in 1975-1980. The American Chemical Society awarded him the Pure Chemistry Award in 1981 and the Award in Inorganic Chemistry in 1988. He was awarded a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1983. Also in 1983, he was awarded the Gregory and Freda Halpern Award in Photochemistry by the New York Academy of Sciences and the E. O. Lawrence Award by the United States Department of Energy. In 1984 he was selected as the recipient of the Fresenius Award of Phi Lambda Upsilon. Wrighton’s teaching activities have been rewarded with the MIT Chemistry Department Graduate Teaching Award in 1981 and the MIT School of Science Teaching Prize in 1987. About 70 individuals have received the Ph.D. degree under his supervision at MIT.

Wrighton was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988 and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1986. In 2001, he was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society. Professor Wrighton was a presidential appointee to the National Science Board (2000-06), which serves as science policy advisor to the President and Congress and is the primary advisory board to the National Science Foundation. While on the NSB, Wrighton chaired the Audit and Oversight Committee.