9th Presidents’ Conference of German–Japanese university alliance HeKKSaGOn (9/20–21 | Goettingen)

The 9th Presidents’ Conference of German–Japanese university alliance HeKKSaGOn was held at University of Göttingen on 20 and 21 September 2023. It was the first in-person HeKKSaGOn Conference after the Conference in Heidelberg in 2019, as the last event in 2021 organized by Tohoku University (Sendai) had to be moved online due to COVID.   A total of more than 100 people, including presidents and vice-presidents, researchers, students and staff from the six universities gathered in Göttingen.

The overarching topic of this year’s conference was artificial intelligence, entitled “What Opportunities and Challenges does Artificial Intelligence offer to the Higher Education Sector?”. In the opening session, the presidents of the six universities took to the stage for a panel discussion to frankly discuss the challenges and problems, as well as opportunities and expectations of of this revolutionary development to teaching and research. The Conference was preceded by a data science summer school at the University of Göttingen, where students were also given the opportunity to present their outcome of this summer school in front of the presidents.

The researchers then split into their own projects and discussed their research in parallel sessions. For the first time, HeKKSaGOn x L-INSIGHT, a spin-off project of HeKKSaGOn, was included in one of these sessions. Meeting face-to-face for the first time, the young researchers discussed the importance of forming cross-disciplinary research networks and gave a presentation to the Rector on what is needed to achieve this.

In the Closed Presidents’ Meeting, the future of the alliance and strategies to develop further were discussed by the presidents and vice-presidents. It was agreed to ‘acknowledge the importance of AI in research and teaching’, ‘support early career researchers’, ‘collaboration in entrepreneurship and technology transfer’, ‘regular dialogue between universities and societies’ and ‘promote sustainability research with an awareness of climate change’, which was concluded in a joint statement.

The next 10th HeKKSaGOn Presidents’ Conference will be held at Osaka University in 2025.

As the HeKKSaGOn’s liaison office in Germany, the Kyoto University Europe Center will continue to play an important role as a bridge between Germany and Japan.