he Festival of Thinkers conference (FOT) is a unique event designed by the Higher Colleges of Technology in collaboration with lateral thinking expert Dr Edward de Bono to provide an opportunity for students, young leaders of leaders, to interact formally and informally with, and learn from Nobel Laureates, world’s leading thinkers in business, science, technology, culture and economics.
The 5th Festival of Thinkers will be held in the United Arab Emirates during the week of March 24-29, 2013. It will be a watershed event that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Higher Colleges of Technology.
The underlying philosophy of this biennial event, organised by HCT since 2005, is to inspire promising youth to inspire, innovate and collaborate. FOT is a unique forum for students, global leaders and thinkers to use constructive and lateral thinking while exploring potential solutions for the world’s challenges in an interactive format.
The purpose of the Festival is to discuss means and ways of fostering creativity beyond cultural boundaries at the scientific and social level by encouraging participants to work together using constructive and lateral thinking while designing possible solutions for the world’s challenges. It covers critical challenges and topics including:
- Availability of Education
- Research and Innovation
- Health and Wellness
- Culture and Language
- The environment & sustainability
- Economic future of the world
The FOT philosophy was summed up by HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development in the UAE and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology at the 2009 Opening Ceremony.
“The Festival of Thinkers is based upon the premise that the bringing together of promising students with some of the world’s recognized leaders in innovation and creativity will enrich both groups and lead to an even brighter future for our global society.” HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan
The Higher Colleges of Technology seeks to play its part through hosting of such international forums and disseminating the thoughts of world thinkers by publishing of books and manuscripts of such thought leaders from around the world. Thoughts and ideas shared by these thinkers are compiled and published through FOT Proceedings as well as through HCT’s famous series of anthology of essays under the titles “20” in 2007 and “22” in 2009.
In the past 4 editions of FOT, 45 Nobel Laureates such as the late Dr Wangari Maathai of Kenya, Dr Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Prof. Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, Prof Murray Gelman, and Prof R.K. Pachauri have participated with over 1,000 of the most promising students from around the globe, and more than 350 world thinkers, whose experience and expertise covered most fields of human endeavor – this includes top CEOs of major global corporations, artists such as Placido Domingo, media leaders such as Ted Sorensen, socio-political leaders such as Dr Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart , sports stars such as basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, adventurers such Dr Bertrand Piccard and many more.
The 2011 Festival of Thinkers featured Nobel Laureates Professor Ferid Murad (Physiology/Medicine), Professor Finn Kydland (Economics), Dr. Eric Maskin (Economics), Dr. Erwin Neher (Physiology/Medicine) and Betty Williams (Peace), who were involved in a series of lively and entertaining debates and discussions covering an array of topics relevant to the current day world scenario and events.
The themes for the 2011 FOT reflected the diverse nature of those issues which modern society considered as some of the most pressing for humankind to deal with. Hence those themes were:
- Global Economic Crisis: three years and counting…..
- Environment: Sustainable World for Our Children
- Health & UN Millennium Development Goals
- Leaders of Tomorrow
- Reframing Education
- Inspiring through the Arts
- Global Challenges: Making Education Count
- Poverty & Hunger Alleviation
- Exploration, Adventure and Leadership
In keeping with past FOTs, the 2011 participants were treated to a variety of interactive panel discussions and sessions with the 100 world leaders from a variety of fields, where they gained great insight into how some of the world’s best minds approached challenges and opportunities in life.
The 2011 conference was highlighted by the sheer variety of discussion and thought-provoking events in the program, in order to cater for the large number of themes. These included pre-conference workshops, roundtable discussions, lecture-style talks and parallel break-out panel discussions. One of the most eagerly anticipated and popular of these was the workshop by former US astronauts Charlie Duke, Tom Henricks and Stephen Oswald who had their audience enthralled with discussions about their flying exploits and what characteristics make leaders of tomorrow.
The 5th Festival of Thinkers, to be held in March 2013, will be equally memorable and insightful, while its themes will concentrate on the issue of finding solutions to global educational challenges.