The Rockefeller Foundation is a famous philanthropic organization and private foundation, established by John D. Rockefeller (“Senior”), the American business magnate, who co-founded the Standard Oil Company which has a major impact of the oil industry.
In addition to the big petroleum industry business Rochefeller started, he is also considered to have defined the structure of modern philanthropy through setting up the The Rockefeller Foundation in New York State May 14, 1913.
In the first year of its foundation, $35 million was made as a gift to the foundation, followed by another $65 million donation by John D. Rockefeller (“Senior”) . After 100 years develoment, The Rockefeller Foundation now has an endowment fund of $3.696 bn USD
For more than 100 years, “to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world” has been advocated as the mission of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Nowadays, one of the key areas the Rockefeller Foundation focus is on “building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses”. This is discussed in greater details of the book “The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong”
Dr. Judith Robin, is the author of this book, and also the first female President of the Rockefeller Foundation since 2005 . She was previously the first permanent female president of an Ivy League University in the USA-being the 7th President of the University of Pennsylvania(1994-2004), which is being ranked the world’s Top 13th by QS World University Ranking 2014/15.
Today, on the 19th January 2015, Juditch Robin, was interviewed by Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of Nesta on her book. NESTA. NESTA is formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. There are about 200 delegates including senior leaders from the Cabinat Office, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Department for International Development, World Bank, leading UK think tanks and corporates such as Arup, Barclays, Burberry, as well as universities leaders. Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit was also invited to this high profile event.
NESTA is set up in 1998 through £250 million endowment fund established through an Act of the UK Parliament, with the mission to promote innovation capacity of the UK. Nesta was previously an executive non-departmental public body till 2012 when it was made into an independent charity.
There are indeed a lot of interesting points Judith Rodin put forward in her speech about efficient overall strategy to help individual, community, business, government of cities around the world to have more “Resilience”, as defined by a blog Judith wrote in 2014, as “the ability of people, communities and institutions to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back more rapidly from acute shocks and chronic stresses”.
For example, she put forward “Awareness, Redundancy / diversity, Integration, Self regulation, Adaptability as the 5 key characteristics of resilience. Some may argue that the whole idea is about “rebranding the art of city planning” in a new way, as suggested by Katherine Mathieson, Programmes Director for British Science Association.
Also, $100 million has been allocated by the Rockefeller Foundation since 2013 to create the project 100 Resilient Cities-selecting 100 cities around the world to provide support to build urban resilience around the world. Maybe for QS, there could be an consideration to include how resilient a city is as part of the QS Best Students Cities Rankings next year?
Judith also mentioned about the role education systems around the world could play in contributing to more resilient cities around the world. Her view on that is to educate students, to raise the awareness of such issue. Another part of role universities could play is on the research and innovation on the design and planning of infrastructure of cities, which would certainly have a major impact on how resilient cities could become when face unexpected catastrophy and disasters.
Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit asked a question to Judith Robin at the event, on her view about efficient ways to have more bottom up approaches to get the general public to play a more active role on the grassrout level, so that such issue is no more just on top of the agenda of government and business leaders, but everyone. Judith replied highlighting the role NGO, local cities, communinity could play in organising more de-centralised approached in reaching out to the public.
After the forum, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, enjoyed an interesting chat with Dr. Judith Robin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation on the successful Wharton-QS Stars Awards: Reimagine Education which was launched in University of Pennsylvania in 2014. Interestingly, Judith Robin also knew Nunzio Quacquarelli, who founded QS when he was a MBA student at Wharton Business School and asked Dr. Christina Yan Zhang to send best regards to Nunzio Quacquarelli, the Wharton Alumni. Christina also had a brief discussion with Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of Nesta, on future opportunties to collaborate on education related areas between QS and Nesta.