Honorary doctorates 2020: Sharing knowledge

On 4 February 2020, UCLouvain will honour Nuccio Ordine, Angélique Kidjo and François Taddei for their work in support of innovation, interdisciplinarity and inclusion. In doing so, UCLouvain will highlight the theme of sharing knowledge, which is ‘central to everything we do at UCLouvain’, according to Rector Vincent Blondel. UCLouvain specialises in innovative courses and teaching: UCLouvain students enjoy digital and active learning experiences (MOOCs, videos, distance learning, flipped classrooms).

On 4 February 2020, UCLouvain will award the title of honorary doctor to Angélique Kidjo, an artist and activist for access to education; Nuccio Ordine, a professor of literature at the University of Calabria and specialist in the history of thought; and François Taddei, an interdisciplinary researcher in innovative educational approaches.

The keywords are innovation, interdisciplinarity and inclusion, with the added notion of pleasure: the pleasure of learning and the pleasure of teaching.

By honouring their careers and actions, UCLouvain wants to encourage its students to become citizens of the future. The university aims to reinvent ways of learning and promote access to education for all. ‘The notion of sharing is inherent to the mission of universities. UCLouvain constantly develops knowledge, through research, and then shares this knowledge through its 500 courses’,1 explains UCLouvain Rector Vincent Blondel.

Sharing knowledge, yes, but how? The ideal, pursued by UCLouvain, is innovative education that alternates coursework with collaboration and dynamism. Teaching reimagined, with videos that students can watch whenever they want, and intensified interaction with professors in order to debate, understand, appropriate knowledge and training. The other key to the future is interdisciplinary. Bachelor’s programmes that integrate diverse, interdisciplinary subjects aim to open minds and explore possibilities. Master’s programmes allow you to go in the direction you want to explore.

Nuccio Ordine: learning for pleasure
A professor at the University of Calabria, Nuccio Ordine is a philosopher at war with utility, the defining concept of the 21st century. His creed? The usefulness of uselessness. Do or learn, just for fun, without any objective: ‘It’s pleasure that allows us to become better.’ A very simple statement that reflects the values of UCLouvain’s founding in 1425: ‘to become better for oneself and for others’.
‘For centuries, the purpose of education was to transform individuals into cultivated, independent citizens.’ Today? Society trains individuals to become professionals in the job market. For Prof. Ordine, this risks the loss of more profound skills and a sense of ethics. His advice? ‘You have to follow your passion!’

Angélique Kidjo: promoting access to education for all
Committed. That’s the adjective that best suits the Beninese singer and songwriter Angélique Kidjo. Exiled to Paris in 1993 after fleeing her country’s unstable political climate, she became a world-renowned artist and continues to put her fame to work for a cause that inspires her: educating African women.
In 2002, Ms Kidjo became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and campaigned to promote the education of young girls and women in Africa. In 2006, she created the Batonga Foundation to support access to secondary and higher education for African girls. ‘If you want to transform the economy and politics on my continent, you need women who understand the world’s complexity.’

François Taddei: reinventing learning
After an engineering career, François Taddei redirected his research towards cell biology. Interested in interdisciplinarity and active learning, he cofounded, at the University of Paris, the Centre de recherches interdisciplinaires (CRI), an interdisciplinary research centre based on innovative educational approaches. To better understand the challenges our societies face, he says, we have to overcome the partitions between and hierarchies of disciplines, and equip ourselves with efficient tools to avoid cognitive blindness. He supports creating a ‘knowledge GPS’, which would allow us to find the best paths to more effective learning according to one’s own education needs. Use digital tools only? No, Dr Taddei is convinced that interactions are essential and add value to university campuses, which are special places for mobilising collective intelligence.

More information at https://uclouvain.be/dhc2020

(1) 241 courses and 234 continuing education programmes.

Published on January 22, 2020