Organisation - August 9, 2016

Harvard professor Juma headlines opening academic year

Text:
Roelof Kleis

Harvard professor Calestous Juma is the headliner at the opening of the academic year. Juma will speak about why innovations are often met with resistance.

The theme of this year's opening is ‘rethinking innovation’, a reflection on innovations and new technologies. Renewal and change are usually met with resistance. ‘On the one hand we use technology to make our life easier and better. But on the other hand we can see antipathy against technology. Why is that?', Head of Communications Marc Lamers explains the choice in theme.

On the one hand we use technology to make our life easier and better. But on the other we can see antipathy against technology.
Marc Lamers,Head of Communications Wageningen UR

Calestous Juma, Professor Practice of International Development at Harvard, can answer thist question. In his recently published book Innovation and it’s enemies; why people resist new technologies he discusses the history of 600 years of revolt against new technology. Juma has a fresh look on why innovation is so important and why there is sometimes so much resistance, says Chair Louise Fresco.

Juma is an authority on this theme says Fresco, because of his African and scientific background and his international experience. 'He has a broad vision on change, which is important in this age where science is sometimes seen as an opinion.’ Juma is an acquaintance of Fresco from her time at the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) in the mid 90's. He was the secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the time. 

He has a broad vision on change, which is important in this age where science is sometimes seen as an opinion.
Louise Fresco, Chair of the board Wageningen UR

Juma will go into the causes of concerns and opposition against change and which lessons can be learned in his lecture. The fear for something new is of all ages says Juma. Coffee was seen as the devil's drink in Italy in the 17th century. In other Western countries people thought coffee would make you sterile. And in America they nicknamed Margerine as ‘bulls butter’: because it would make you bald and sterile.

In this day and age we have tranagenic food, artificial meat and autonomously driven cars causing the same controversy. Juma explains this and shows how we can deal with it. Afterwards, three young scientists from Wageningen will elaborate on the theme. Which scientists is still unkown. The opening of the academic year is hosted on Monday the 5th of September in the Orion-building. You can sign up online till the 2nd of September.


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