Edinburgh Global

Chevening Conference 2021 - Be a leader: Shaping the Changing World

Edinburgh Global hosted the 2021 Chevening Conference on 3 June, with speeches from Professor Peter Mathieson and Professor James Smith and sessions from leading academics.

By Lorna Bruce

This year’s online conference explored the theme: “Be a leader: Shaping the Changing World”, and scholar presenters shared their ideas and research in response to the theme.

A flagship for leadership

This year’s event focused on leadership across a range of topics; law and social justice, human rights and conflict, development, technology, public policy and governance and the environment, with presenters from around the world bringing their ideas to the table.

The day comprised valuable elements for participants:

  • Learning about leadership from fellow scholars presenting their research related to the theme
  • Listening to fascinating talks from academics from the University of Edinburgh, as well as Dr John Murton, the UK government’s envoy to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)
  • Networking with scholars from universities around the UK and connect with leading academics
  • Contributing ideas to thought-provoking debate on leadership.

The annual conference is Chevening’s academic flagship event and is the third-largest event in their calendar. It is an environment that encourages discussion between scholars, and collaboration across subjects and gives scholars the chance to present their ideas on inspiring change at a local, national or global level.

The online format of this year meant many more were able to attend than would be possible in person – 450 scholars claimed a ticket. In attendance were Chevening scholars, Edinburgh staff, Chevening alumni, and Chevening partners. They accessed presentations from peers, key academics and Dr John Murton (COP26), whose keynote speech was attended by over 250 people.

On the day, the Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson, commented:

The University of Edinburgh has a long-standing relationship with Chevening, and it is my great pleasure to virtually host the first ever Chevening Conference in Scotland and to welcome Chevening scholars from across the world to engage with a range of experts from across the University… As future leaders, you are encouraged to embrace this opportunity to share your ideas for positive change and to form strong networks with each other that will lead the way to greater unity, friendship and innovation across the world.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal, The University of Edinburgh

Leadership as a theme

The discussions covered a range of topics with leadership providing the common thread for the day. Presentations prompted lively conversation and questions for the presenters with positive feedback and interaction from attendees.

A sample of some of the key scholars’ presentations on the programme:

  • Data, power, and policymaking: can we rethink data for development and leaving no one behind?
  • Women in leadership: comparing developed (the UK) and the developing (India) corporate economy
  • Finding new ways to mobilise youth for peace
  • Shaping the world through education
  • The impact of different green marketing campaigns
  • Crime scene investigation and justice delivery
  • Materials chemistry and circular economy: leadership to use science in solving real-life problems in the developing countries

The sessions were led by several academic speakers including Professor Geoff Sim, on the topic of Environment, and Professor Colm Harmon, who led a panel discussion on ‘What makes a leader?’.

About Chevening and Edinburgh

Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards programme aimed at developing global leaders. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partner organisations, offering two types of award – Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships – the scholars of which are personally selected by the British Embassies and High Commissions worldwide.

The University of Edinburgh has welcomed Chevening Scholars for many years and over the last five years, we have welcomed over 160 Chevening Scholars from 55 countries to Edinburgh to complete Masters degrees in a wide range of subjects. During the 2020/21 academic year the University of Edinburgh has welcomed 37 scholars.

Professor James Smith, who closed the conference, commented:

The partnership the University of Edinburgh holds with the Chevening Scholarships programme is and will continue to be a longstanding one having hosted Chevening Scholars across multiple Chevening countries for many years now and we hope to continue to offer the opportunity for future leaders to undertake their one-year Masters study here at Edinburgh in the future too.

Professor James SmithVice-Principal International, The University of Edinburgh


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