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Issues of ‘Trust and Distrust’ explored at UNSW Sydney base launch

With an inaugural event in Australia focusing on the theme of ‘Trust and Distrust,’ Meridian 180 has officially launched at UNSW Sydney.

UNSW is Meridian 180’s first base in the southern hemisphere and will play a key role in fostering new collaborative skills and advancing innovative, hybrid ways of addressing pressing global problems.

Rebuilding the “Trust Deficit”

During the launch event, Australia’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop MP delivered a keynote speech to an audience of nearly 200, which was followed by a series of panel-based conversations covering topics such as ‘Social Trust via Technology’ and ‘Trusted Advisors – Changing Roles.’

Julie Bishop MP delivers keynote lectureBishop’s keynote address focused on international diplomacy, highlighting examples when trust was needed during her time as Australia’s foreign affairs minister – including relations with Indonesia, Fiji, and Russia, which have all come under strain in recent years.

“Enabling peace and security only comes about through relationships between nations. And relationships between nations must be built on trust and respect,” she explained. “And individual governments can only deliver peace if the people trust their government to do the right thing. But trust between nations and governments and people is in short supply at the moment. There is a trust deficit around the world.”

Culture of Curiosity

“Curiosity is what drives Meridian 180,” said Fleur Johns, professor of law and the academic director of the newly established Meridian 180 base at UNSW. “We want to enable people to work together on very important issues, particularly where their usual networks would mean they would never have crossed paths or where they do not share a common language.”

UNSW scholars – and others from around the Australasian region – bring vital insights and expertise to Meridian 180 conversations and goals:

  • Diverse campus with a range of research strengths, from photovoltaics and solar energy to quantum computing and HIV/AIDS
  • The UNSW Futures initiative facilitates cross-faculty and cross-disciplinary work, dovetailing perfectly with Meridian 180’s commitment to collaboration
  • Ongoing involvement in the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) is already helping to deliver solutions to one of the major economic and social problems of the 21st century, while their Grand Challenges program has fired up multi-disciplinary discussion around topics of global concern such as inequality, rapid urbanization, and refugees and migrants.
  • The Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW brings together industry, the small- and medium-business sector, entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers from Australia, China, and beyond to address large-scale issues such as hydrogen energy storage and wastewater treatment and resource recovery.

“When we started Meridian 180 seven years ago in the wake of the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we never thought we would be here today,” said Annelise Riles, the founder of Meridian 180 and newly appointed executive director of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University, said at the launch event. “The goal of Meridian 180 is for all sectors of society to come together and be open-minded to all points of view to help channel new ideas in a creative way.”

Learn more about Meridian 180’s new UNSW base.