Ralph Nader comes to Homewood this week as the first speaker for the Johns Hopkins 2001 Symposium on Foreign Affairs, which will focus on the relationship between the developed and developing world.
"Interconnections: The Interaction of Developed and Developing Nations" is the topic for this year's symposium. Arati Shroff, one of the symposium's two directors, came up with it after thinking a lot about how globalization has affected various nations. "I see it as a sort of postglobalization topic: Who wins out and who loses out?"
"It's a topic that to me always seemed important," she says. "I just think that everyone talks about the positive results of globalization, and we don't have to deal with a lot of the negative effects of it."
The other director, Mustafa Ahmed, found the topic appealing as it strikes close to home. Although he was born and raised in the United States, his parents are both from Southeast Asia and he's often thought about what responsibility someone like him has to the developing world.
"It's something you're confronted with on a regular basis," he says.
Nader, the long-standing consumer activist who made a failed bid for the White House last year, speaks at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Shriver Hall and will address "The Problems and Challenges of Globalization."
Other speakers will include international financier George Soros, who will talk about multinational corporations and expanding trade; Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, who will talk about technological revolution; and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., who will talk about ramifications of sanctions on Iraq.
Paul D. Wolfowitz, the dean of Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies for the last seven years, had agreed to speak, but with his recent nomination to become deputy defense secretary under the Bush administration, his schedule has become too busy and he won't be able to, said Ahmed. But Wolfowitz said he would help recruit a replacement speaker.
All events are free and open to the public.
In its fourth year, the symposium is a student operation from top to bottom and from start to finish, beginning with the selection of Shroff and Ahmed as directors last May. After agreeing on the topic, the pair assembled a staff of volunteers to help plan the event.
Shroff, a junior international relations major from Libertyville, Ill., had worked on two previous symposia as a staff member and publicity chair. She knew it would be a lot of work but still was surprised.
"It's like every minute of my life," she says with a chuckle.
While they've had past symposia to build on, Shroff says it was surprising to her that it still felt like "we started from ground zero."
Ahmed, a natural sciences area major from Martinsburg, W. Va., who plans to go to medical school next year, says the bulk of his and Shroff's time last summer was spent in fund-raising efforts. They approached numerous Baltimore businesses and professionals for support, in an effort to raise their approximately $30,000 budget.
One difference from past symposia was the fund-raising approach. Rather than just ask for any amount, this year they approached potential supporters with specific sponsorship packages, a technique Ahmed learned while helping out with the MSE Symposium.
"It worked really well for them, so we figured we'd try it."
The result, Ahmed says, was stronger financial support from outside the university, giving this year's symposium more money than last's.
With the first event just days away, Shroff says she is getting excited and is feeling like the hard work this year and in past years is paying off. Just last week, the staff held a meeting to recruit volunteers and were surprised by the strong turnout--and the fact that the students knew all about the symposium.
"They recognized us. They just don't say anymore, 'Oh, you're that other symposium,'" she says, referring to the older MSE Symposium.
For more about the Symposium on Foreign Affairs, including updated event information, go to www.jhu.edu/~symposia/main.html.