On 18 May the University of Pretoria held the first Nobel Prize Dialogue. It was the first time an African university hosted the dialogue. The theme this year was ‘The Future of Work’, a topic described by Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria as ‘one of the most important dialogues of our time’.
The Dialogue aimed at responding to what the International Labour Organisation has described as a ‘global mega trend’ namely the changing nature of work.
The Dialogue also celebrated the South Africans who have been awarded the Nobel Prize including Nadine Gordimer, Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
The Nobel laureates participating in the event included Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace laureate. Asked how he thought the pandemic would affect the world of work he said that the Covid 19 pandemic has increased the distance between rich and poor and steered people further down the path of poverty whereas the wealth of the rich has increased. He said: ‘We have created a world in which there is a big distance between people and the world.’
Other laureates participating included Christopher Pissarides, recipient of the 2010 Prize in Economic Sciences, Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Prize of Economic Sciences in 2001, Brian Schmidt, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 and Abhijit Banerjee, recipient of the Prize of Economic Sciences in 2019.
Kupe stated the importance of digitalization and technology as an equalizer. He said that, in an increasingly borderless world, the affordability of data is a major global challenge and that corporations should play their part in providing accessible data to the majority of the population.
The University of Pretoria will be launching a Centre on the Future of Work to create knowledge and expertise on to equip students for the future work environment.
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