Opening Day of Tsinghua University 2020 GSS: Innovative Thinking during the Pandemic

On July 20, 2020, at 9am Beijing time, the Tsinghua University 2020 Global Summer School officially began. Over 1000 students from 79 countries and regions around the world gathered online to attend the Global Summer School opening ceremony.

Tsinghua President Qiu Yong welcomed the inaugural class of the Tsinghua Global Summer School (GSS) 2020 at the opening ceremony, which was livestreamed world-wide on various media platforms.

“Today, by launching its Global Summer School, Tsinghua extends its fundamental commitment - educating and cultivating talents - to each and every participant here,” President Qiu said, delivering his opening remarks. “This program exemplifies Tsinghua’s spirit of ‘Actions speak louder than words’”.

“As the young generation of students from around the world, your concerted efforts to address global challenges represent the hope of humanity. Your achievements and leadership will define our future, and will contribute to humanity through better preparation for the next crisis,” he added.

The opening ceremony also featured a performances section, which compiled a series of videos, including the University’s promotional video, International Cultural Expo, the Tsinghua International Students’ and Scholars’ New Year Gala Night, and more - showcasing Tsinghua’s vibrant campus atmosphere and also vividly illustrating Tsinghua’s development in becoming a more innovative, international, and culturally diverse community.

Afterwards, Xue Lan, Faculty Chair of GSS 2020, and Dean of Schwarzman College gave a special opening lecture entitled China's Innovation System - Myth and Reality. Starting from the evolution of China's innovation process, Professor Xue explained in detail the various developmental stages that China’s innovation system has experienced since the modern era and the various challenges it has faced.

Professor Xue believed the fundamental forces behind China’s success in STI development are the accumulative achievements of long-term development and constant reform. Looking to the future, he stated that with the support from government policies, training of personnel, and promotion by society, China’s STI development will continue to thrive and will gradually integrate with the global STI system - making greater contributions to global society.

Professor Xue’s detailed diagrams and coherent explanations not only expounded on the evolution of China’s innovation system, but also inspired students to rethink the meaning of “innovation”. During the Q&A session, students interacted enthusiastically and asked questions about the root causes, opportunities and challenges of China's innovation system development, with Professor Xue providing detailed answers and elaboration. In response to foreigners’ participation in China’s STI development, Professor Xue said that China’s economic model and innovation system is global and the country has always maintained a friendly and open attitude towards international cooperation. China has also been actively collaborating with other countries and regions and welcomes outstanding talents from across the world.

At 4pm and 8pm, the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) organized 2 discussions on Developing Leaders in Innovation, moderated by Professor Pei-Luen Patrick Rau, Vice Dean of the Tsinghua Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) Institute, and Professor of the Department of Industrial Engineering. Taking world-renowned leaders as examples, Professor Rao emphasized the necessity of breaking through traditional boundaries for cooperation and enlightened students on how to become effective and innovative leaders.

Professor Rau introduced the operation and key concepts of GIX, and explained how their focus on technological development, entrepreneurship, and design thinking (TED) can prepare students to contribute to global challenges and business needs.

By introducing work by three successful alumni of GIX, Professor Rau showed how leaders with global vision and innovative thinking can stand out in different fields, such as in cargo transportation, water purification and character recognition.

During the discussion, students proposed many questions on topics including: “Is it better to become an expert or a generalist?” and “How can we balance depth and breadth?” Answering these questions, Professor Rau believed it depended on the particular characteristics, background and experience of each individual. At Tsinghua, it is hoped that students practice both: to develop both depth and breadth of knowledge.

At 9pm, Professor Harry Shum (Shen Xiangyang), Adjunct Professor of Tsinghua University, and former Executive Vice President of Microsoft Corporation, delivered a keynote speech— From Deep Learning to Deep Understanding. Professor Shum has rich experience in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). He was a key member in R&D of the Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, Bing Search, and Microsoft Cortana. Professor Shum explored his topic by discussing the incredible progress of AI during the past decade in three specific areas: big data, computer powering, and general intelligence. He believed that the concept of AI will develop from narrow to robust in the future, leading the development of deep learning to deep understanding.

During the Q&A session, students asked whether deep learning is sustainable. To this, Professor Shen responded that in recent years, many projects in the field of AI have shown surprising results - continuously pushing the boundaries of science and technology and society. However, there is still a long way to go for deep learning, and advancing from deep learning to deep understanding is a major developing trend worthy of attention.

Then three young designers Hou Yuenan, Yang Yeqiu, and Zhuang Yuan from the China-Italy Design Innovation Hub(CIDIH)hosted a webinar to discuss and share with fellow students their thoughts on the Responsibility and Innovation of the Youth in the Pandemic.

Finally, Mr. Fu Zhiyong, Deputy Director of CIDIH, introduced how CIDIH connected students from around the world, both virtually and in person, to collaboratively fight the pandemic and make contributions in tackling the global crisis.

The Tsinghua University online Global Summer School (GSS) 2020, entitled Toward a Post-Pandemic World is a 9-day program organized collaboratively by 17 Tsinghua academic institutions, including ten different schools and departments, five overseas institutions, and two international associations for higher education initiated by Tsinghua.

GSS explores our post-pandemic world through various disciplines - including economics, education, society, artificial intelligence, climate change, and leadership - and engages with students through lectures, group discussions, and cultural events, integrating academics with innovation and interaction.

A number of media outlets broadcasted and reported the event. On the opening day alone, live stream views of the event around the world exceeded one million, and the overall interactive data exceeded three million.

Reporter: Liu Zhiheng
Photos: Li Pai, Shi Jiadong, Li Ruyi
Editors: Guo Lili, John Olbrich

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