illuminate – award ceremony and prize-giving

20 September 2019

On 6 July this year, students from across London participated in an exciting new initiative by the Aga Khan Foundation at the newly built Aga Khan Centre in King’s Cross’ Knowledge Quarter. The one-day lecture event incorporated talks by two renowned experts in their fields – Jessica Fulford-Dobson, a photo journalist, famed for her ground-breaking work ‘Skate Girls of Kabul’, and Professor El-Nasir Lalani, Director of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi.

The winners receive their awards from AKF National Committee Chairman, Mahmood Ahmed and Guest Speaker, Cressida Pollock.

After hearing the inspiring talks, students were then set an essay competition question, which could either be submitted as a written document or in the form of a short video blog. The competition questions were as follows, with the students picking only one option from either category:


  1. How can the arts be used to challenge perceptions about people, places and cultures and offer an alternative narrative to the one presented by the media?
  2. To what extent has social media had a positive impact on journalism?


  1. In 50 years’ time, what do you think all the possible applications of stem cell research will be? Justify your answer.
  2. What are the ethical, legal and social issues around the use of stem cells and to what extent should governments regulate research?

After a careful and difficult judging process, joint first prize was awarded to Samuel Walker Evans (Charter school) and Ofure Toweh (Ark Globe Academy) for their essays on the ethical, legal and social implications of stem cell research. Both students impressed the judges with their thorough grasp on the topic and their considered and thoughtful exploration of the implications surrounding how the arts and science impact development issues. They were awarded £250 each in prize money.

The prize-giving ceremony took place at the Ismaili Centre in South Kensington on 14 September, where the guest speaker was Cressida Pollock, former Chief Executive of the National Opera.

Cressida Pollock, former CE of the National Opera, addressed the illuminate audience, discussing her work and how art and development can work together.

illuminate is an annual event, and next year will bring a new and exciting theme and some equally inspirational speakers – to encourage and inspire students to explore some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Find out more about illuminate

Watch the short video to learn more about this exciting new programme, and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about events like this.