Waqas is founder of The DaVinci Network.
He is considered a world authority on multidisciplinary thinking, and his globally acclaimed book The Polymath (Wiley 2019) sets out how such thinking has always defined the highest performers in world history, and how it is now urgently needed to address the complexity of 21st century challenges.
Waqas’ ideas arise from over 10,000 hours of research as well as his own extraordinarily diverse career spanning art, science, international affairs and beyond.
He has been featured in or has written for the Financial Times, The Times, Fast Company, Philosophy Now, Forbes, Men’s Health, the BBC and The Lancet.
Waqas is Executive Director at the Khalili Foundation, where he works alongside The Khalili Collections – one of the most comprehensive and diverse private art collections in the world. He has initiated a major digitisation project in collaboration with Google and other partners to democratize art through digital curation, visual optimization and cutting-edge technologies.
He was also the curator and host of the 2019 Official Opening of the Leonardo da Vinci 500th Anniversary Celebrations at the National Gallery in London. He is also curating the 2023 World Festival of Cultural Diversity in association with UNESCO. He has now been appointed Curator-in-Residence at the Barbican Centre to design the forthcoming Barbican Arts Summit.
As an artist, his own paintings have been commissioned and acquired by major institutions worldwide. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and on the Steering Panel of Art UK. His art commentary has been featured on BBC Arts, BBC Click, BBC News at Ten, Europeana and Apollo Magazine and has lectured on Islamic Art to the Azerbaijan Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts.
Waqas completed his postgraduate studies in Neuroscience at King’s College London, where he investigated multidisciplinary approaches to the treatment of chronic pain. His research was published by the peer-reviewed journal The Indian Practitioner and selected by the IASP to be presented at the 2021 World Pain Congress.
Another strand of his research focuses on cognitive flexibility, and he is currently researching the neural underpinnings of cognitive flexibility with Professor Rand Spiro, the originator of Cognitive Flexibility Theory (CFT). His article on cognitive flexibility was published in Fast Company.
He teaches neuroscientific perspectives at the London Interdisciplinary School.
Born and raised in Britain, Waqās has since lived in several countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. For five years he was a diplomatic journalist and publisher, namely as Global Correspondent at FIRST Magazine, where his exclusive interviews included the Presidents of Egypt, Sudan, Liberia, Sri Lanka and Guyana and the Prime Ministers of Ethiopia, Malta, Romania and Mauritius. He was also editor of the Official Reports for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (2011-2015) and has advised numerous clients on international communications campaigns.
Waqas holds a Masters degree in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE) and was previously a visiting lecturer in International History at the University of the West of England. His paper on the Post World War Two movement for a World Government was published in the Federalist Debate.
His current areas of research include the the history of cultural bias and the concept of simultaneity. He published A Non-Western History of Versatility in The Historian (The Historical Association). and The Mind of Leonardo de Vinci in Philosophy Now.
Waqas is also a leading researcher on the history of non-Western art. He was awarded a grant by Wikimedia UK to investigate the nature and scale of the bias in favour of Western art across Wikipedia platforms, The paper was published in collaboration with Dr Martin Poulter.
He currently teaches Historical Methods at the London Interdisciplinary School.
Waqas was editor of Holy Makkah (FIRST 2017) – the first holistic exploration of the sacred city in the English language – which received praise from UNESCO, the Commonwealth and the Vatican.
He is Executive Director of the Khalili Foundation – a leading organisation that promotes interfaith dialogue through cultural diplomacy in collaboration with international organisations. He is Editor of the internationally acclaimed book on the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (20th Anniversary).
Waqas’ article on interdisciplinarity in international affairs was published in The World Today (Chatham House).
FITNESS & WELLBEING
As a qualified fitness professional, Waqas was resident trainer at the University of London Union and initially trained with an elite division of the British Armed Forces. He has since coached people in multiple countries in various fitness methods and is currently developing a hybrid physical training system that draws on indigenous methods from around the world.
Having been a youth athlete, playing cricket for Somerset and Gloucestershire, he served on the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s cricket committee.
INTERDISCIPLINARY & INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION
Waqas has been a strong advocate and practitioner of both interdisciplinary and intercultural education at primary, secondary, higher, further and professional levels.
He co-developed the curriculum for Interfaith Explorers – a leading digital resource for primary school pupils and and teachers across that is supported by UNESCO.
He also co-developed the Harmony Learning Experience – a module for The Harmony Project that encourages secondary school children to learn from Nature’s principles of adaptation and interconnectedness.
He was Chair of the Commonwealth’s panel of academics for Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and oversaw the creation of a module to integrate into tertiary education systems worldwide. He is also Global Citizenship Educator to the Prince’s Trust’s Young Leaders Programme.
Waqas is Assistant Professor and Founding Faculty at the London Interdisciplinary School (LIS), where is is involved with curriculum design, teaching and research.
Waqas has published articles on lifelong learning and UK liberal arts education in FE News.
“With eloquence, clarity and authority, Waqas made a powerful case for multi-dimensional thinking as essential to personal fulfilment and collective problem-solving in the 21st century.”
Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce
"A 21st century Renaissance Man"
"Fast emerging as a young Leonardo da Vinci"
Prof Nasser D Khalili Founder, The Khalili Collections
“Exceptionally well-read, well travelled and multitalented”
Prof Edward de Bono Originator of Lateral Thinking and bestselling author of Six Thinking Hats
"A great writer and thinker... a true polymath"
Prof Daniel Levitin Neuroscientist, musician and bestselling author of The Organized Mind
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