Top University Leaders Urge Innovation for the Post-COVID Era at the KAIST Summit
Top University Leaders Urge Innovation for the Post-COVID Era at the KAIST Summit
  • PR Newswire
  • 승인 2021.02.01 09:00
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- Presidents of KAIST, MIT, Tokyo Tech, and Northwestern to define new roles and responsibilities of universities for the post-COVID and 4IR eras during an online summit in celebration of KAIST's 50th anniversary

DAEJEON, South Korea, Jan. 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Universities are facing ever-mounting pressure to address impacts brought on by COVID-19 and the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

KAIST summit about the Post-COVID Era will be live-streamed on KAIST’s official YouTube channel ( on February 3, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Korean time (February 2, 7:00-9:00 p.m. CST and 8:00-10:00 p.m. EST, respectively)

Presidents from MIT, Tokyo Tech, and Northwestern University will join the KAIST Summit to explore new directions for higher education during the post-COVID era intertwined with the 4IR. They agree that addressing these dual challenges requires pushing for innovations to rebuild the competitive edges of universities.

This summit is one of KAIST's series of events to envision the future of KAIST and higher education in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The online summit will be live streamed on KAIST's official YouTube channel ( on February 3, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Korean time (February 2, 7:00-9:00 p.m. CST and 8:00-10:00 p.m. EST, respectively).

The KAIST Summit titled "The Roles and Responsibilities of Universities in a Global Crisis" will discuss a range of issues affecting many aspects of universities in the coming decades.

"This summit will allow us to measure the level of risk that universities face today and will face in the future. Although there will be varying views on what a post-COVID world might look like, one thing for sure is that universities cannot go back to the way they used to exist and operate. Moreover, the 4IR continues to infiltrate and shake up our daily lives. Changes are inevitable, and universities must pursue bold and innovative responses to remain sustainable and relevant to society," said KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin on the background of hosting the event.

The keynote speakers include KAIST President Shin, MIT President L. Rafael Reif, Tokyo Tech President Kazuya Masu, and Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. After the keynote speech session, the speakers will take part in a panel discussion on three topics: "The Digital Divide," "Emerging Challenges in AI," and "Social Entrepreneurship and University-Industry Collaboration." A Q&A session with an online audience consisting of KAIST faculty, staff, and students as well as high school students across the nation will follow shortly afterwards.

President Reif of MIT will congratulate KAIST on its successful 50-year journey from meager beginnings to achieving its current status as one of the finest global universities in science and technology. Then he will give a talk titled "Universities as Engines of Change" to present how universities have played a critical role in advancing solutions to humanity's most urgent problems.

President Masu of Tokyo Tech will stress the importance of universities' continuous dialogue with society as drivers of innovation. In his speech titled "Designing Our Future—Tokyo Tech DLab's Approach," he will introduce the activities of Tokyo Tech's Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation in Global Networks (DLab) and explain how DLab collaborates for the future with members of society.

President Schapiro of Northwestern University will speak about how universities might incorporate the lessons they learned in dealing with COVID-19 to improve their research, teaching, and public service in the post-pandemic era. He will also look into issues arising from changing labor market needs associated with the 4IR and the aftermath of COVID-19 in his talk titled "The University in the 'New Normal.'"

Finally, President Shin of KAIST will deliver a presentation on the "Visions & Innovations for the Next Dream of KAIST." He will reflect on the remarkable track record from KAIST's first 50 years and how it has contributed significantly to the rapid growth of Korea as a hi-tech powerhouse. Furthermore, he will elaborate on a new vision for the development of KAIST over the next 50 years and roll out a set of strategic innovation plans in the five areas of education, research, technology commercialization, globalization, and future strategy.    

In the panel discussion, the four presidents will dive into a more intense conversation on such topics as universities' role in bridging the increasing digital divide through their research, education, and international cooperation; the socioeconomic implications and ethical challenges of the fast deployment of AI and robotics; 4IR disruptions that will transform higher education; ways to foster social innovation and youth entrepreneurship; and how to build university-industry cooperation.

More information on KAIST's 50th anniversary celebrations can be found on its special celebratory website at The official anniversary ceremony is scheduled for February 16, 2021, from 10 a.m. Korean time, and live-streaming will also be made available on KAIST's official YouTube channel at


KAIST is the first and top science and technology university in Korea. KAIST was established in 1971 by the Korean government to educate scientists and engineers committed to Korea's industrialization and economic growth.

Since then, KAIST and its 67,556 graduates have been the gateway to advanced science and technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. KAIST has emerged as one of the most innovative universities with nearly 12,000 students enrolled in five colleges and seven schools including 1,039 international students from 90 countries.

Marking its semi-centennial anniversary in 2021, KAIST continues to strive to make the world better through its pursuit of excellence in education, research, entrepreneurship, and globalization.

For more information about KAIST, please visit

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Younghye Cho

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