Speaker Series to focus on Global Issues

- By Ankitha Rajendaran

Penn State's School of International Affairs (SIA) Spring Colloquium 2014 will address the challenges presented by globalization. This semester-long Colloquium beginning on January 16 will be an intense, multifaceted probe into the various global challenges and dilemmas of the world today. Open to the public, all presentations will be held on Thursdays from 11:15-12:30 p.m. in the Executive Education Building, which is adjacent to the Nittany Lion Inn in University Park.

Organized by Professor Dennis Jett, U.S. Ambassador (ret.), this year's lectures will cover a wide range of topics including Iran's nuclear program, poverty, intelligence, conflict resolution, cyber threats, terrorism, and the Arab spring. “The issues the Colloquium addresses are fundamental to understanding many important aspects of international relations today. From climate change to the role of the media in the internet age, these issues are among the most complex and difficult ones we face as individuals and collectively as nations,” said Ambassador Jett. “Understanding them is therefore not only relevant, but imperative, for anyone interested in learning about how the efforts to deal with them are succeeding or failing.”

The Colloquium is part of a required first-year course for SIA students, designed to provide broad exposure to a wide range of critical issues.

SIA Ambassador and second-year student Garrett Redfield said, “The colloquium is where experts come to speak on a variety of topics that are relevant to international affairs. I found it to be very beneficial in terms of fulfilling a vocational experience while here at the School of International Affairs. Having the chance to sit down and talk with expert academics and former professionals I feel is a chance that not many students are able to experience.”

The Colloquium will kick off with Dr. Richard Alley, Penn State Department of Geosciences, who will speak on climate change on January 16. While it is widely acknowledged that a significant amount of global warming is human-caused, there is growing skepticism about the matter. How and why we need to deal with this issue instead of denying the clear signs of climate change will be discussed.

Other renowned speakers include: Roger Thurow, former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent and author of The Last Hunger Season, Ambassador Theodore Kattouf, President of AMIDEAST, Ambassador Karl Hoffman,President and Chief Executive Officer of Population Service International and Steve Mufson, of the Washington Post.