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International Day: A glimpse into the inclusive digital future

Digital transformation was the focus of the evening event of the ZHAW International Day, which took place on 1 April 2019 at the Casinotheater Winterthur. More than 110 guests came to listen to guest speaker Geraldine de Bastion, who spoke about how we can create an inclusive digital future through cooperation between digital innovators and governments.

In his opening speech at the ZHAW International Day, ZHAW President Jean-Marc Piveteau emphasised the importance of internationalisation for the university. “Even though we are a university with a focus on Europe and European cooperation is essential to us, we do not limit our international activities to a single continent.” On the contrary, the ZHAW is constantly extending the geographical scope of its international cooperation. “And we now reach out to all continents.” For Piveteau, innovation is also one of the key characteristics of a university. “Digital innovation in particular can facilitate cooperation and accelerate exchanges between different cultures.”

Certified international competences

According to Daniel Perrin, head of International Affairs, today’s pluricentric world is one in which several cultural patterns extend and intertwine globally. This calls for three competences if we are to successfully orient ourselves internationally: “Understanding how other cultures tick, translating between cultures and remaining open to the unexpected.” The ZHAW will fine-tune its international profile over the course of this year and create opportunities for students to have their international competences certified.

Innovation can save lives

For guest speaker Geraldine de Bastion, a political scientist based in Berlin, innovation is first and foremost a disruptive process that can shake up sluggish systems and help accelerate development. “Access to new technologies enables the emergence of innovative business models.” Innovative solutions can also save lives, as can be seen in the example of the start-up that offers an Uber-like ambulance service in Kenya. This private firm is trying to close the service gap in a country that lacks a central emergency telephone number.

In an inclusive digital future, start-ups and governments must work together more effectively if they are to help drive development towards a more open society. Everyone has their part to play here, says de Bastion: start-ups must act in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner, and governments must be open to new forms of business. In times of open data and monitoring, this calls for a social contract. “This is because human values must not take a back seat under any circumstances - they are more important than technology,” concluded de Bastion.

Moderator Christian Liesen from the School of Social Work deftly led the audience from the academic part of the evening to the social part, which included a typically Swiss food and drinks reception called an “apéro riche”, networking opportunities and musical entertainment by The Rich Man's Kitchen Orchestra.

Impressions International Day 2019

Enriched the event with Calypso, Blues and Ska sounds: The Rich Man's Kitchen Orchestra
Guest speaker Geraldine de Bastion spoke about how we can create an inclusive digital future through cooperation between digital innovators and governments.
According to ZHAW President Jean-Marc Piveteau, digital innovation can facilitate cooperation and accelerate exchanges between different cultures.
Daniel Perrin spoke about the competences needed in today's pluricentric world, in which several cultural patterns extend and intertwine gobally.
The event was moderated by Christian Liesen from the ZHAW School of Social Work.