On Shifting Ground

The World Affairs Council in cooperation with Hostelling International USA, Golden Gate Council, is pleased to present an evening with Don George: Three decades as a professional world-wanderer have taught me that the planet is a glorious and fragile picture-puzzle of precious, unique and irreplaceable pieces. It has also led me to believe fervently that all of us who love to travel -- who, in a profound sense, live to travel -- are the guardians of that puzzle, for it is we who hold its pieces in our hands, and who celebrate and sanctify its existence in our lives. A new year, with a new administration in Washington, presents extraordinary opportunities and challenges for the American traveler. As 2010 unfolds, I’d like to share ten lessons I’ve learned in 30 years of travel to 70-plus countries: tips that can help us realize our potential as citizen stewards and everyday ambassadors to build bridges of understanding and connection around the globe.

Direct download: 01-27-10_Don_George.mp3
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In order to solve the current economic crisis, what aspects of our economic model do we need to rethink? Echoing Oscar Wilde’s observation that “people know the price of everything and the value of nothing,” Raj Patel argues that our faith in prices as a way of valuing the world is misplaced. Patel looks at the hidden ecological and social costs of common items that we currently take for granted, such as the hamburger which can be priced as high as $200. While we need to rethink our economic model, the larger failure behind the food, climate, and economic crises is the result of our political system. Dr. Patel has previously worked for the World Bank and the WTO, and currently serves as a Fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First.

Direct download: 01-26-10_Raj_Patel.mp3
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With war continuing in the west and a fragile peace in the south, decades of fighting have left Sudan to cope with the effects of conflict, displacement, and insecurity. Respect for human rights remains a complex and challenging issue throughout the country. It has also led its longtime leader, President Omar al-Bashir, to become the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, resulting in the International Criminal Court issuing a warrant for his arrest. A panel of Sudan experts joins the Council to examine the alleged human rights abuses committed by al-Bashir’s regime and the challenges in improving Sudan’s human rights situation. Also, what is the US policy toward Sudan and what new initiatives have the Obama administration implemented? The program will also explore the growing tensions ahead of the April 2010 national elections and the Southern Sudan referendum scheduled for January 2011.

Direct download: 01-25-10_Sudan.mp3
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With China’s growing role in the global arena, a new phase of China-US relations has taken center stage. During his recent visit, President Obama declared a success in establishing better diplomatic ties and pledged to treat China as a trusted global partner in future endeavors. Meanwhile, people in China have shown great interest in not just the President’s rise to the White House, but also in how furthering dialogue with the US will be an asset to both nations. Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong joins the Council to discuss the significance of strong US-China bilateral relations, as well as to offer the Chinese perspective on its growing role in the world.

Direct download: 01-19-10_Zhou_Wenzhong.mp3
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The world’s youngest country, the Republic of Kosovo, declared its independence in February 2008. Currently sixty-four countries have recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state, while it has also been admitted to both the IMF and World Bank. Kosovo’s independence has resulted in significant development for the country in all spheres and has proven to be a factor of stability for the region. Many of its international allies and partners, including the US, NATO, and EU remain committed to ensuring the stability of Kosovo. After almost two years of self-rule, the World Affairs Council and Commonwealth Club are honored to host the independent Republic first President to discuss the present and future for this new nation.

Direct download: 01-12-10_H.E._Dr._Fatmir_Sejdiu.mp3
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South Korea is recovering from the global financial crisis and ensuing recession much more quickly than most other countries. Byongwon Bahk, former senior economic advisor to Korean President Lee Myung-bak, will detail how Korea has been relatively successful in dealing with these acute problems, but he will argue that South Korea must implement major structural reforms if it is to sustain long-term growth. He will also explain why South Korea must draw lessons from the successes of its globally competitive manufacturing sector and apply them to weaker sectors such as financial services and agriculture. During the past decade, Mr. Bahk was in charge of the management of Korean macro-economic policy at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, reaching the level of vice minister, as well as served as a presidential advisor in Korea’s Blue House. Currently, Mr. Bahk is the Korean Studies Program Koret Fellow at Stanford University.

Direct download: 01-11-10_Byongwon_Bahk.mp3
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