Yale President Richard Levin and University Secretary Linda Lorimer returned to New Haven on Sunday from this year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Administrators and faculty in attendance at the forum discussed a number of topics, ranging from the real estate bubble to the global environment. Levin, who chaired a session about the impact of globalization on education and participated in four other sessions at the conference, said he hopes the University’s interactions with academic and business leaders at the meeting will lead to future partnerships.
“The meeting turned out to be very productive for Yale in all kinds of ways,” Levin said. “We were able to interact with other academic leaders in fruitful ways, with business leaders in a couple of cases, which might form the basis of mutual collaborations.”
In one of the sessions in which he participated, “Containing a Global Pandemic?”, Levin discussed the economic and legal dimensions of worldwide preparations for avian flu. The panel included health care industry leaders and officials from UN agencies.
At the panel, Levin suggested that though the common view of constraints on vaccines includes intellectual property, liability lawsuits will prove to be a more important and often overlooked constraint.
“If you really want to accelerate avian flu vaccine development, Congress might consider some limit on liabilities,” Levin said. “[This proposal] was very well-received. I don’t think people thought of it much [before].”
Lorimer said the meeting provided her with valuable perspectives on a range of issues. During the course of one 24-hour period, Lorimer said she met with an alumnus who wants to increase involvement in Yale’s international efforts and whose company is expanding in Africa, with the chair of the Economic Development Board of Bahrain about undergraduate internships with placements as soon as 2007, and with the dean of one of the schools of Fudan University in Shanghai about the potential to add new partnerships. Lorimer traveled to five countries in the Middle East in December as part of a Yale delegation.
Each of the participants at the forum meeting is equipped with a handheld PDA in order to communicate with the other participants and arrange meetings, Lorimer said.
“In many ways, it is extremely useful for me to be able to arrange so many meetings with people from around the world who may be helpful in our internationalization efforts,” Lorimer said.
Between 150 and 200 alumni and friends of Yale attended an annual reception at the forum Wednesday night, Levin said. Fareed Zakaria ’86, one of three newly appointed Yale Corporation trustees, attended the event, he said.
George Joseph, Yale’s assistant secretary for international affairs, said Yale participation in the meeting demonstrates a commitment to address global problems.
“It is important for Yale to have a presence at these events … because it shows Yale’s willingness to engage the leading problems and issues facing the world and to contribute its expertise and resources to seeking improvements and solutions,” Joseph said.
Yale political science professor David Cameron said the reasons for holding the meetings and University participation in them are logical in an increasingly globalized world.
“We live in a global world, a global economy,” Cameron said. “We are getting more international. It makes a lot of sense.”
Former president Bill Clinton, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi-Annan, and three Yale faculty members — professors Daniel Esty, Robert Shiller, and Ernesto Zedillo — also attended the meeting of 2,340 business, political, academic and media leaders from around the world.