Introductory Remarks at Tsinghua University

March 9, 2010 - Introductory Remarks at Tsinghua University

"Toward a Sustainable Future: Cross-Cultural Research and Technological Innovation"

Thank you, Professor LUO.

It is an honor to speak with you this morning. For the past twenty years, the University of Pennsylvania and Tsinghua University have enjoyed a strong relationship based on shared academic interests and mutual respect. This visit commemorates our long history and celebrates our bright future.

Today, we will consider the pressing issues of a new decade and address the challenge of sustainable development.

Our response to this global challenge has the potential to improve quality of life for current and future citizens of the world. Both of our governments recognize that universities will play a leading role in meeting this challenge.

Penn and Tsinghua already are taking important steps. As signatories of the Sustainable Campus Charter, we have acknowledged the need for campus-wide principles and measureable goals for sustainable development. We have committed to providing our students with the necessary tools to understand and evaluate sustainability efforts. We will pursue research that will drive the next generation of innovations, and we will engage our communities and develop feasible solutions.

Penn and Tsinghua can leverage our strengths and work together to become true global leaders of the sustainability movement. To reach this goal, we must do three things exceedingly well. We must support innovation. We must build partnerships. We must develop practical solutions.

First, we must support innovation.

At our Penn Center for Energy Innovation, researchers from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Arts and Sciences are using existing energy sources in new and efficient ways and creating sustainable energy technologies such as nanoscale solar solutions.

This summer, we will launch our new Global Technology Entrepreneurship Program. The first Penn student group will travel to Beijing to collaborate with peers here at Tsinghua. The purpose of the program is to introduce students to major technology industries and to give them practical experience with corporate clients - skills that will give them a competitive edge in emerging green technology markets.

Second, we must build partnerships.

While fostering innovative collaborations at our respective institutions, we must also secure government investments in research and develop relationships with businesses.

At Penn, our Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership connects professors from Wharton and our Schools of Arts and Sciences, Design, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.  These faculty members meet with business, non-governmental organization, and government representatives to address environmental issues that have an impact on business.

A truly unique example of a productive partnership is the Penn/Tsinghua TC Chan Center for Energy and Simulation - one of Penn’s most successful global collaborations. Under the skilled direction of Penn Professor Malkawi and Tsinghua Professor Yi Jiang, the Center generates new knowledge and techniques that further the goal of creating high performance buildings and sustainable environments.

I am delighted that David Chan, the Center’s most ardent supporter, is here with us today. His vision and generosity have sparked four years of remarkable growth and have enabled our many shared successes. We look forward to creating even more methods to improve building performance and to increase sustainability around the world. Thank you, David.

Finally, we must develop practical solutions.

In 2007, I was the first Ivy League president to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and we began a planning process to reduce Penn’s environmental impact.

With the help of the Penn/Tsinghua TC Chan Center for Energy and Simulation, Penn conducted a thorough and comprehensive environmental assessment of campus operations. Since 2007, we have published carbon inventories each year and reduced our emissions.

We already have met the Kyoto protocols, and, by 2014, we will achieve a 17 percent reduction in our total energy consumption.

Though the steps we are taking are specific to our campus in Philadelphia, the process exemplifies a horizontal integration of assessment, analysis, planning, and implementation.

This approach translates understanding into socially responsible, effective, and efficient action -- a skill that Penn and Tsinghua must foster if we hope to lead a green revolution.

By supporting innovation, building partnerships, and developing practical solutions, our two universities can encourage other institutions to address the challenge of sustainable development, each in its own way.

Penn is proud of our ongoing partnership with Tsinghua. In closing, I am delighted that the University of Pennsylvania and Tsinghua University have reaffirmed our commitment to addressing climate change and seeking sustainable solutions.

Initiatives such as the Global Technology Entrepreneurship Program and the ongoing work of our TC Chan Center are excellent examples of what we can achieve by working together. We look forward to building on our partnership and to cultivating ever stronger ties between our two universities.

Thank you.

Press Release: University of Pennsylvania to Expand Academic, Research Collaborations With Tsinghua University.