KI Professor now international educator

Published 2012-02-19 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:29

[NEWS 2012-02-17] Hans Rosling, professor of international health at Karolinska Institutet and founder of the Gapminder Foundation, is a familiar name in Sweden and abroad. He is equally popular as a lecturer at international science conferences and as a guest on television shows around the world. His next scheduled appearance is in a panel debate at the international AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver on 16-20 February.

Hans Rosling.

The theme of the conference is "Flattening the World: Building the 21st Century Global Knowledge Society".

"I´ll be testing basic facts and addressing the dynamic that drives population growth," says Professor Rosling. "The greatest problem with population growth is that so few people understand it."

He says that people mistakenly think he does research, but although he still works at Karolinska Institutet as a teacher and mentor, his own research he has abandoned in favour of adult education. He therefore likes to point out that instead of working with research information, he is an educator who devotes his time to explaining common public statistics.

"There seems to be a mix of ignorance and a kind of arrogance in the richest countries about the rest of the world, and I think people should know the facts so that they can re-evaluate old truths," he says. "But things haven´t gone that well so far. I might have been lauded for my efforts but I haven´t actually been particularly successful."

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is one of the world´s oldest and largest scientific conferences and, given the thousands of international journalists and reporters who cover it, an excellent forum for researchers to publicise their work to a worldwide audience. But this was not a conscious choice by Professor Rosling. Nothing he has done has been a conscious choice, he claims, not even the research to which he dedicated 20 years of his life:

"It´s just how things turned out, but of course my background in science comes in useful even if I work more today with understanding `fact-based gross simplification".

Also taking part in the panel debate on Saturday 18 February is Dr. James Hansen, head of NASA´s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University; and Dr. Olivia Judson, research fellow at London´s Imperial College. The moderator will be Professor Frank Sesno, a prize-winning US journalist, former head of CNN Washington and head of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.

The debate will be broadcast live as a video webcast.