Here are comments from organizers and participants in the April 4-8, 2011 Conference on World Affairs.
Jim Palmer, director:
We have just completed our 63rd Conference on World Affairs. What a privilege for our staff, students, and community volunteers to serve this tradition, but not be tradition-bound. Each year we create a time capsule, a snapshot of our world and our concerns. Our responsibility to our thousands of conference-goers is to inform and delight, to remain committed to a free-thinking onference that remains “free and open to the public.”
The conference must be both timely and timeless, addressing both WikiLeaks and William Shakespeare. We know our audience is a participatory community of people of all ages and interests – people whose open-minded curiosity will resonate with the Irish writer who proclaimed that ”Curiosity will conquer fear more than bravery will.”
If you love music, want to have your assumptions challenged, enjoy listening to thoughtful dialogue between conservative and progressive thinkers, are enchanted by storytellers and appreciate multiple perspectives on hot-button issue, we have a conference for you.
Jane Butcher (IntlAf’66), co-chair:
The Conference on World Affairs brings the world to Boulder to interact with our students and community. We ask our 100 participants from many disciplines to have intelligent conversations in front of an audience. It’s not so much an academic conference as it is a conference of the real world of today – a chance to hear and interact with the movers and shakers of now and the future.
We provide a unique opportunity for students to hear, meet and make friendships with our many guests. The entire conference is produced by volunteers – many of them students who have many types of engagement. It is a unique opportunity for students to have face-to-face interactions with our guests.
The lasting appeal of our conference is the value we give our students by introducing them to the real world. I think we change lives in the process.
Collin Goddard, participant on the panel “When Psychotherapy Goes Wrong”
On April 16, 2007, Goddard survived the shootings at Virginia Tech University. Today he works for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; he spoke about the killer, Cho Seung-Hui . He spoke to the Boulder Camera prior to the panel:
“What happened to me is an example of a lack of psychotherapy. It didn’t go wrong. It didn’t start at all. People throw their hands up in the air when it comes to mental health. We need to have a serious discussion about that.”
Juli Steinhauer (Mus ex’60), co-chair:
Jazz was born in America and is our music. It molds the CWA into a community in one evening because of shared joy. The Jazz Concert emulates the CWA because the music statements are always innovative and progressive. Old songs become new and new songs become vocabulary. The music is ever evolving because of improvisation. The quality and diversity of the musicians give the concert a depth of feel from a world-wide perspective.
Joe Cirincione, participant, president, Ploughshares Fund, San Francisco:
The coolest part of the Conference on World Affairs by far is the Tuesday jazz concert. World-class music.
Adrean Ferrugia, participant on the panel “Music, Our Refuge From Misery”
Ferrugia teamed up in 2008 with the ensemble Ricochet and their album has received widespread critical acclaim. He’s a jazz pianist and composer on the faculties of two Canadian universities:
Speaking to the Boulder Camera, Ferrugia recalled one event when he was 11 and succumbed to the sounds of Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. “There was this real sense of being uplifted out of the sort of mundane existence I felt I was living in at the time.”
Tree is a fellow and director of the Institute for Policy Studies, working to end the war on drugs and replace it with policies that promote public health and safety:
“Twenty years ago I was fighting for basic survival,” he told the Boulder Camera, “and now we’re talking about rights and privileges that were thought to be so far removed back then.” But as a caveat, he noted, “If you’re spending the night [as a gay couple] in places like Oklahoma, you may not want to tell people you are fine with one bed… assimilation and acceptance are regionally specific states of being.”
Clare Murphy, participant, storyteller, Galway, Ireland:
It’s hard to sum up what CWA is like. Imagine being trapped in a beautiful villa for six days with a bunch of people, from scraggly haired optimists to hard-line realists, all with a wild bright look in their eyes. As soon as you break bread together the verbal tennis begins, no one is certain of the outcome but you have a wonderful time getting there.
Gigi Ibrahim, political activist and citizen journalist, Cairo:
Boulder is the most beautiful farm-empty-clean land with mountains, snow and sun all at the same time.