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FSU professor joins Nobel Laureate campaign on future of humanity

Florida State University’s Sir Harry Kroto, Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry and Nobel Laureate, joined the Dalai Lama, former President Bill Clinton and a host of other Nobel Prize winners who met with actor Richard Gere for a recent conference aimed at righting the wrongs of modern humanity.

King Abdullah of Jordan hosted the two-day meeting, “A World in Danger-Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates,” May 18-19.

Authors Elie Wiesel and V.S. Naipaul were among the artists and scientists in Petra to discuss the way things are — and the way they should be.

Kroto, who sees science education for the world’s children as critical to a better future, joined the FSU faculty in 2004. He sees an important role his new home campus can play through FSU’s commitment to educational outreach through Internet technology.

Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, former Northern Irish political leader David Trimble and Nigerian author Wole Soyinka were among the 24 Nobel Laureates and 28 public figures who also joined the conference. Participants included the prime minister and education minister of Jordan, as well as senior ministers from several other countries.

In opening the conference, King Abdullah said the modern world was at a “critical crossroads.” He called for renewed efforts for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a fresh emphasis on Islam as a religion of peace.

“A process begins here – a process that all of you will shape, and by your effort, help shape our world,” the king told delegates.

Delegates discussed four key themes: terror and peace, economic development and poverty, health and environment, and education and media.

Following the Petra sessions, recommendations were presented to political and business leaders at a meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Kroto has long been involved in science education through his foundation, the Vega Science Trust, which has made more than 100films for television and internet broadcast and through outreach work both locally and internationally.

Kroto feels strongly that education is the most vital component for human development and that children must be reached in their formative years in order to become good citizens, develop respect for others and reach their full potential.

Because of the power of the media in shaping public opinion, Kroto is passionate about the role that the Internet can play in promoting equality of education and access to information throughout the world.

His aim in participating in the Petra conference was to sow the seeds of a program aimed at making the best teaching material possible available to every teacher by extending Internet access to every classroom worldwide.

Kroto is working to gain support in every developing country to realize this aim, and he believes that Florida State University can help. He said, “One reason for coming to FSU was the strong commitment I found here which saw educational outreach as a priority to be supported.”