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Global Leadership Forum hosts leaders from over 45 countries

Topics included economic growth, climate change, inclusion of women, minorities in government

The Presidential Precinct hosted the first of the two-day 2016 Global Leadership Forum Tuesday in the Newcomb Ballroom, bringing together leaders from over 45 countries to discuss challenges facing the world.

The Presidential Precinct is a non-profit consortium of the University, the College of William & Mary, Montpelier, Monticello and Ash Lawn connecting former presidents James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Forum was co-hosted by the Department of State.

Presidential Precinct Managing Director Neal Piper said the forum was held partly for the 75th anniversary of the International Visitors Leadership Program, which brings approximately 5,000 leaders from around the world for exchanges.

“We have leaders from over 45 countries today, including a group of IVLP participants and Foreign Fulbright [scholars],” Piper said.

Topics of the forum included the rule of law and stability, economic growth, climate change and sustainable resource management, governance and the inclusion of women and minorities in government.

Evan Ryan, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said finding solutions to these global challenges is the genesis of the program. At gatherings like these, participants also have the chance to meet one another and establish a network.

“We have a history of doing events like these all over the country where our exchange participants come and get to interact with people from around the United States, the core part of exchange being mutual understanding,” Ryan said. “We think the best way to achieve that is through the actual human experience of exchange.”

Forum attendees heard from University President Teresa Sullivan, Ryan and a number of professors from the University and the College of William & Mary.

“There were many highlights from the forum,” Piper said. “The overarching theme is leadership, and each of our keynotes provided lessons they have learned and thought-provoking research ideas to inspire students.”

Luke Nicholson, a second-year College student and forum volunteer, said over 100 students had attended various events throughout the day.

The focus of the forum was to bring “rising world leaders to talk about leadership and to solve the problems that nations are facing,” Nicholson said. “Prof. Zelikow gave a really interesting talk about the similarities between the Industrial Revolution and what he calls the Digital Revolution. He talked about how we don’t know where it’s going, just like how the government in the 1860s wasn’t prepared for the Industrial Revolution.”

Participants of the forum were invited to join the Presidential Precinct Network, which Piper said is the first digital platform that connects leaders to one another and to other business leaders.

“The network looks like a blend between LinkedIn and Facebook so leaders can continue sharing challenges and funding opportunities,” Piper said. “Even though the forum only lasted a few days, it is just the start of a long term relationship.”

Ryan said the Global Leadership Forum also provided an opportunity to encourage University students to study abroad. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently opened a study abroad office to help universities, students and parents understand how to study abroad and why it is so important.

“One of the things that we are really focused on right now is encouraging U.S. students to study abroad as an overall diplomatic and strategic goal of the United States,” Ryan said. “It helps bring us closer together globally; it helps U.S. students in terms of their own futures, and, in an increasingly shrinking global world, it is important that our college graduates have that international experience.”

The Presidential Precinct also hosted a dinner at the Boar’s Head Tuesday night, where the University gave an award to Madeleine Albright. The Presidential Precinct presented their inaugural young leader award to Sunday Punch Newspaper Editor Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye.