Join us for the presentation and a complimentary UQ reception, allowing plenty of time to network with fellow alumni. You can register for the presentation, reception or both.

Our esteemed speakers will address urbanisation, safety issues and the impact on residents living in our increasingly dense cities.


Professor José L. Torero
BSc (PUPC, Peru), MSc (Berkley, United States), PhD (Berkley, United States)
Professor and Head, School of Civil Engineering

Professor José L. Torero joined The University of Queensland in 2012 as Professor of Civil Engineering and Head of School. He is a leader in the field of Fire Safety Engineering where he specializes in the behavior of fire in complex environments such as forests, tall buildings and novel architecture, tunnels, aircraft and spacecraft. Prior to joining UQ, Torero held the position of Head of Institute for Infrastructure and Environmental, the BRE Trust/RAEng Professor of Fire Safety Engineering and Director of the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering. Torero is a Chartered Engineer (UK), a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2008 Torero was awarded the Arthur B. Guise Medal by the Society of Fire Protection Engineering in recognition for his eminent achievement in the advancement of the science and technology of fire protection engineering. Torero was recognized for advancing the field of Fire Protection Engineering through his guidance and mentorship to literally hundreds of students aspiring to be practitioners, researchers, and teachers in the field of fire engineering. In 2011, Torero was awarded the Rasbash Medal from the Institution of Fire Engineers (UK) for his achievements in the advancement of the science of fire safety. Torero has participated in global landmark projects such as the Buncefield, Sago Mine and Texas City Explosions, the collapse of the World Trade Centre and the design of complex infrastructure. He is recognised for leading edge research in a broad arrange of subjects associated to fire safety and for the development of many innovative educational programmes in several countries.


Dr Rosemary Scanlon
BEcon (StFX, Canada), Mgr Dev (Harvard, United States), Doctor of Laws honoris causa (StFX, Canada)
Director of Academic Affairs and Professor, New York University

Rosemary Scanlon is a noted expert and scholar in the areas of urban and regional economics. Scanlon’s distinguished career has included positions as chief economist for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and deputy state comptroller for the City of New York. She has taught at the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University, was a visiting research fellow, London School of Economics, and is currently director of academic affairs and professor at New York University, Schack Institute of Real Estate. Scanlon joined the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate in 2000 and has played a key role in ensuring the quality and stature of the Institute with its master’s degrees in Real Estate, Real Estate Development, and Construction Management. In her role as divisional dean, she also oversees NYU-SCPS’s prestigious continuing education program of noncredit offerings in real estate. Scanlon is beloved by students, faculty, staff, and alumni because of her dedication and commitment. She is also a highly-respected real estate professional. She is a highly-published author of economic studies, a sought-after consultant.


Professor Chris Letchford
BEng (Hons) (QLD), University Medalist (QLD), PhD (Oxford)
Professor and Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic, School of Engineering

Professor Chris Letchford specializes in wind engineering. He began his academic career at The University of Queensland in 1987. After developing a research program in Wind Engineering and Bluff Body Aerodynamics and reaching the level of Reader, Letchford left Queensland to take up a Professorship at Texas Tech University in the US going on to become Senior Associate Dean. During eight years in the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, he helped manage an annual research budget in excess of US$1million and developed several innovative simulators for thunderstorm downburst and tornado winds. In 2007 Letchford accepted the position Head of School of Engineering at the University of Tasmania, and was elected as the Asia-Pacific Representative of the International Association of Wind Engineering. Letchford also serves on several code writing authorities, including the International Standards Organisation, Australian Standards, and ASCE. He is also co-chair of the 2016 Bluff Body Aerodynamics and Applications conference in Boston. Letchford is a Registered Professional Engineer in Queensland, a Chartered Professional Engineer in Australia and a Fellow of Engineers Australia, ASCE and SEI. Chris joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as Head of Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering in 2011 where he has NSF research funding to investigate innovative ways to improve cross-wind response of tall slender buildings.


Scott Gabriel Knowles, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Interim Head for History, Department of History and Politics, Drexel University

Scott Gabriel Knowles is a historian of modern cities, technology, and public policy–with a particular focus on risk and disaster. His most recent book is: The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America (UPenn Press, 2011). He is also the author/editor of: Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City (UPenn Press, 2009); and, he has published articles, essays, and book reviews in the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Hill, Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of American History, Technology and Culture, Business History Review, The Next American City, Isis, Enterprise and Society, The Smart Set, and Annals of Science among other venues.

Knowles is presently working on a recent history of the "supertall" skyscraper phenomenon, as well as participating in the interdisciplinary Fukushima Forum project.

Knowles completed his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology in 2003, after completing an M.A. in history and B.A. in history and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.


About Global Leadership Series

The Global Leadership Series (GLS) is a lively program of events for alumni and community members. Join us for lectures and discussions with the best of the best UQ-related speakers on matters that impact your community and shape your ideas of the world.

The series is an opportunity for you to engage with great minds on global matters, participate in thought-provoking discussions and network with UQ alumni and community members. All alumni, parents, community members and friends are welcome to attend the Global Leadership Series events.

Subscribe and save

UQ Alumni can save up to 30% on tickets by purchasing one of our three subscription packages*.

Mini subscription:  Attend two events for $48 (Save 20%)
Standard subscription:  Attend four events for $90 (save approx 25%)
Premium subscription:  Attend all eight events for $170 (save approx 30%)

*Subscription packages do not apply for multiple tickets to the same event.

Registration for 2020 GLS events will open in late February 2020. To listen to podcasts of previous GLS events click here.

2020 Global Leadership Series Program 

Image of handcuffs

Real policing of true crime

Tuesday 31 March 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

Pop culture is obsessed with true crime stories that bring the most sordid details of criminal acts to the eyes and ears of the public. But what happens to our justice system when anyone with access to the internet can sell a good story? 



Image of cropsGood enough to eat? Climate, technology and food

Tuesday 21 April 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

With the global population expected to reach eight billion by 2040, food production will need to increase by 70%. This seminar explores how the transformational technologies of gene-edited food, synthetic biology and nanotechnology can reduce carbon emissions, prevent food loss, and help feed a growing population. 


Image of AustraliaWhat's it all about? Constitution, treaty, voice

Tuesday 12 May 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

Australia is facing big questions with regard to its First Nations People. What does it mean to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Australian Constitution? What is the Uluru Statement from the Heart? What is an Indigenous voice to Parliament? What is the relationship between Australian constitutional reform and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?


Image of cropsWho can you trust in a post-truth world

Thursday 18 June 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

Australia has seen national enquiries into institutional failures and trust breaches by the banking and financial services sector, aged care, and sporting organisations. Findings from these enquiries uncovered systematic failures of ethical culture, integrity and governance systems. In this session, UQ experts will draw on their research on how trust in our organisations and institutions can be built, restored and preserved.


Image of cropsCreating smart, sustainable cities for the future

Wednesday 29 July 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

Urban sprawl, rapid population growth, rising sea levels:  the need has never been greater to find solutions and reimagine urban landscapes to create sustainable, prosperous and resilient cities.  



Image of pillsIs it addiction?

Tuesday 25 August 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

What are we addicted to, the how, and the why. Our expert panellists will touch on the processes that underlie addiction and why our decision-making becomes problematic. 



Image of trumpUS election: Trump vs ___

Thursday 10 September 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

The election of Donald Trump to arguably the most powerful presidency in the world sent shockwaves through the global community. While many rejoiced his challenging of the global order from NATO to China, others feared he lacked the temperament and judgment to the US on the world stage. Our experts will lay out the issues and possibilities, and what the great powers of the past can tell us about the future. 


Image of a robotic eyeWill robots outsmart us?

Tuesday 17 November 2020  6:00pm - 8:00pm

For decades human-like robots have graced our screens. Performing everyday tasks, acting as servants and even sometimes forming complex plans to eradicate humanity. But is this an accurate representation of what Artificial Intelligence (AI) could do? What are some of the ethical challenges created by merging machines with our brains?


New York