Global Citizen - Courageous Conversations


Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, South Africa, invites us to rethink our relationship with the world in a series of ‘Courageous Conversations’ on the theme of The Global Citizen.

Prof Petersen argues that COVID-19 has been a powerful ‘disruptor’ — it has given us a stark reminder of the need to rethink our identity, of where we belong, our ‘normative’ view of citizenship — if we want to secure long-term survival of our civilisation and the environments which support it.

Powerful voices from public life, intellectuals, public interest and business leaders, academics, naturalists, religious leaders, astrophysicists, economists, and ecologists, and others, will be invited to share and debate their views.

Global Citizen courageous conversation launch

In partnership with the South African Chamber of Commerce based in the United Kingdom, the series launched on 26 May 2021, in a discussion with Prof Petersen on the concept and context of his thinking and how the series will roll out.

If you were unable to join the webinar you can watch the replay on YouTube, or visit the South African Chamber of Commerce website where you'll find recordings of previous webinars.



Global Citizen November 2021


The Vaccine Story – How does the Global South develop its own solutions? – Monday 15 November 2021, 18:00 SAST | 16:00 GMT

When COVID-19 struck in January 2020, it was the great equaliser – a painful reminder of our common humanity – our vulnerability to a virus.  Whatever race, colour, or creed, we were all susceptible. 

But this started to change with the introduction of vaccines and access to vaccines.  The Global South rapidly re-found its place at the bottom of an unequal race for protection. This highlighted Africa’s dependence on the Global North for access to vaccines and pharmaceutical solutions – from cancer to all infectious diseases.

It is this aspect of vaccination and medical science, as well as the question of pharmaceutical/medical entrepreneurship within Africa, that Prof Soon-Shiong seeks to bring his global perspective and shine the light of his considerable acumen, insight, and success on.  

Patrick Soon-Shiong, MBBCh, MSc, FRCS (C), FACS, is a South African-born global medical entrepreneur. MD, physician, surgeon, scientist, inventor, technologist, and philanthropist, he has devoted his career to understanding the fundamental biology driving life-threatening diseases and translating these insights into medical innovations with global impact. He serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NantWorks, an ecosystem of companies with deep understanding in a wide variety of complex industries, from medical science to physics, from data to AI, and from communications to mobility.

Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, South Africa, in partnership with SACC, is delighted and honoured to have engaged Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong as his guest for the next ‘Global Citizen’ conversation. It is an opportunity to learn from and discuss Dr Soon-Shiong’s views on how Africa can build its own capacity and infrastructure in the field of medicine and medical entrepreneurship. How Africa can move from being a consumer to a global producer of medical solutions.  Prof Soon-Shiong has also bridged the divide between academia and business and is a role model of how the two can work together in a global citizen ‘ecosystem’ for global good. 

A world where everyone is safe from disease, is a world where everyone has access to medical technology and vaccines.  How Africa can go about doing this will be crucial to the future of all our lives and livelihoods, and shape how we respond with global agility and justice to the current challenges of cancer and infectious diseases, as well as future pandemics.

Join us here for this discussion.



Global Citizen Webinar – Prof Phillipe Burger

Global Citizen and the role of Digital Futures – Monday 27 September 2021, 13:30 SAST | 12:30 GMT

“A knowledgeable citizen is a powerful citizen because knowledge is power!” (Israelmore Ayivor)

How we turn information into intelligence is the subject of SACC’s next ‘Courageous Conversation’ with University of the Free State Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, in his series debating ‘The Global Citizen’.  “I believe the world needs multi-disciplinary solutions to its global problems.  For this reason, I established the Interdisciplinary Centre for Digital Futures at the University of the Free State as part of my vision to infuse the natural and social sciences and the humanities with everything that digital brings to a multi-disciplinary approach in order to solve real-world problems through the power of big-data analysis,” says Prof Petersen.

Prof Philippe Burger, the UFS Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Poverty, Inequality, and Economic Development, together with Prof Katinka de Wet and Herkulaas Combrink, the interim co-directors of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Digital Futures, will join Prof Petersen to discuss the value that such an approach can bring to finding solutions to real-world problems. They will also share information on some of the exciting projects of international relevance that they are working on. Agriculture and food security, medicine, and attitudes to issues such as, for example, vaccination, education, governance, and ethics are key foci of the centre.

Join us to find out how big-data analysis and a multi-disciplinary approach can transform understanding and deliver solutions to some of the challenges we face as citizens of the world.


Global Citizen Jeff Sachs

Global citizenship and the Sustainable Development Goals – July 30, 2021 at 12:00 GMT (UK time) / 13:00 SAST (SA time)

Courageous Conversation in the Global Citizen series on 30 July 2021 at 12:00 GMT/13:00 SAST,  UFS Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Petersen welcomes eminent economist, professor at Columbia University, Director of its Earth Institute, and global leader on sustainability, Prof Jeff Sachs.

In 2015, almost all countries signed up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This commitment marked an international solidarity of virtually all countries to work towards the betterment and development of every person on earth. Then COVID-19 struck. Not only did the crisis result in a retrogression of successes registered in achieving the SDG, most notably in the reduction of global poverty, but it also exposed global power disparities.

In this session, Prof Sachs discuss global citizenship and the SDGs in the context of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including what an equitable recovery would mean for countries around the world, and will make reference to the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 


Spotlight Main- 1280 x 354 Global2

Educating a ‘Global Citizen’ – 17 June 2021, 15:00 SAST

Eminent South African business leader and UFS Chancellor, Prof Bonang Mohale, joins Prof Petersen to unwrap the role universities can play in creating a ‘Global Citizen’ mindset to effect material change in a constantly evolving and turbulent international world.  

How do universities produce research, and graduate alumni who go out into the  world to drive and reflect the bedrock value of Global Citizenship namely that of mutual respect, for others, for all creatures, and the environment which sustains us all?

A university education can be a powerful way to push the ‘reset’ button on the baggage of upbringing and our histories - personal, cultural, national, racial – which shape our world view.  

Universities can promote informed self-reflection, curiosity, and tolerance as a driving force in how we shape our realities, understand our prejudices, promote tolerance, and animate life in a better world. Prof Petersen and Prof Mohale reflect on how universities can accelerate and respond with greater agility to this challenge.

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