GPII, Al-Bilad Kick Off “Sustainable World, Sustainable Kingdom” Distinguished Lecture Series

The UCF Office of Global Perspectives & International Initiatives (GPII) and Al-Bilad will kick off the six-part “Sustainable World, Sustainable Kingdom” Distinguished Lecture Series on May 12. Originally intended to be held as a live, round-table discussion, the series will shift to a Zoom video-conference format. The lectures will also be recorded and distributed to the newspaper’s readers and posted on the GPII website. Al-Bilad is one of the oldest newspapers in Saudi Arabia, having first been established in 1932 – the same year the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was unified.

The series will feature expert panels, including UCF faculty members, outside experts affiliated with UCF and Saudi experts, who will speak about a wide range of environmental topics. These include: coastal habitat preservation, smart city and smart growth development; solar energy use and development; sustainable food production; eco-tourism; urban ecology; managing sensitive ecosystems; and water management. While detailed, these forums are designed to be accessible to audiences with limited expertise.

The first lecture, “The Global Water Crisis: Impacts and Opportunities in the Middle East,” will be given by Thomas Crisman, Ph.D. a professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida. Crisman was a Jefferson Science Fellow in the Office of Conservation and Water at the U.S. State Department in 2014-2015. A frequent collaborator with GPII on Middle East resource issues, he is currently consulting on the Addressing Global Crisis Project.

Upcoming speakers, all from UCF, include Drs. Jacopo Baggio and Peter Jacquez, both of UCF School of Politics, Security and International Affairs and the National Center of Integrated Coastal Research, and Dr. Youcheng Wang, Dean of Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

“We’ve had to work with our partners to adapt to the global pandemic, but are honored to work with Al-Bilad, one of the oldest Saudi newspapers. We are excited to engage Saudi audiences in a discussion about critical issues which will shape the Kingdom’s and world’s development in the coming decades. There have been a lot of positive moves undertaken by Saudi Arabia in recent years, and we hope to contribute to the ongoing national dialogue about sustainable growth and development,” noted David Dumke, director of GPII.

UCF has always enjoyed a strong reputation in engineering and science. One of the largest universities in the U.S., UCF is located in a state with unique environmental concerns. UCF has special expertise in a variety of fields shaped by environmental and sustainability considerations. Many of the challenges faced by the Kingdom today are studied and researched by UCF faculty. Additionally, the GPII Office has co-sponsored a series of Middle East-related international conferences with the Hollings Center for International Dialogue on resource-related issues, focusing on food security, water, energy conservation and sustainable development.

UCF has a longstanding interest in Saudi Arabia. In 2013, UCF – partnering with Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University – established the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research and Studies (PMBF). The PMBF Program has sponsored a wide range of activities focusing on the environment and sustainability. UCF also has hundreds of Saudi nationals studying at their Orlando campus. The Saudi chapter of the UCF Alumni Association was established in 2017.

GPII and Al-Bilad still intend to hold live roundtables discussions in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs and international travel resumes.

Comments are closed.