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Addressing Global Challenges in a New Way

Panel at the Global Challenges Forum - Image Credit: Eric Bridiers, US Mission Geneva

Panel at the Global Challenges Forum – Image Credit: Eric Bridiers, US Mission Geneva

Last week I attended the latest installment of the Global Challenges Forum, held in Geneva and co-chaired by the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization.  Here is what NPS says about this effort:

The Global Challenges Forum will bring together representatives from governmental and non-governmental partners to explore joint policy research and educational partnerships at the nexus of globalization and security. Globalization has brought new challenges that appear to be beyond the ability of current institutions to address. In response, there is a need to generate new educational opportunities on a global basis. The Forum will allow the exploration of more partnership-oriented solutions to contemporary threats and risks, and aims to move dialogue and discussion forward into tangible programs of learning and actionable policy.

The specifics of the presentations and discussions were off the record, but I can report that an impressive group of people were assigned to take on a wide variety of challenges that face international organizations, governments, universities, NGOs and corporations.  In addition to analyzing the substance of the overarching global issues of the day,the Forum also engaged in the hard work of wrestling with how it can make a  real difference by developing multidisciplinary analyses that offer actionable options to key policymakers at the highest levels.  The process offers as many challenges as the substance of the issues. How to set the agenda and decide what issues to address?  How to make the analyses cross-cutting without being watered down?  How to ensure that they can get directly to policymakers  without the power of the message being filtered out by national and international political concerns?  These questions, among others,were discussed in a systematic and productive manner, which is no mean feat.

Some immediate substantive  issues were front and center at the meeting, such as the global economic crisis. Other more conceptual matters underpinned the entire meeting (ie, that the international system is still pitching and yawing in the wake of the end of the Cold War).  But this is a group that has the real potential to be able to work across borders, disciplines and types of institutions.  Clearly, this is not the only effort of this sort underway, but it is one that is diverse enough to be representative but small enough to actually produce objective and actionable analyses.  In addition, the communication among Forum members has a value in and of itself and I am certain that additional partnerships will be formed and research projects implemented.  Stay tuned for more from this promising effort.



James Ketterer

James Ketterer is Dean of International Studies at Bard College and Director of the Bard Globalization and International Affairs program. He previously served as Egypt Country Director for AMIDEAST, based in Cairo and before that as Vice Chancellor for Policy & Planning and Deputy Provost at the State University of New York (SUNY). In 2007-2008 he served on the staff of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education. He previously served as Director of the SUNY Center for International Development.

Ketterer has extensive experience in technical assistance for democratization projects, international education, legislative development, elections, and policy analysis – with a focus on Africa and the Middle East. He has won and overseen projects funded by USAID, the Department for International Development (UK), the World Bank and the US State Department. He served on the National Security Council staff at the White House, as a policy analyst at the New York State Senate, a project officer with the Center for Legislative Development at the University at Albany, and as an international election specialist for the United Nations, the African-American Institute, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He is currently a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association and has also held teaching positions in international politics at the New School for Social Research, Bard College, State University of New York at New Paltz, the University at Albany, Russell Sage College, and the College of Saint Rose.

Ketterer has lectured and written extensively on various issues for publications including the Washington Post, Middle East Report, the Washington Times, the Albany Times Union, and the Journal of Legislative Studies. He was a Boren National Security Educational Program Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and in Morocco, an International Graduate Rotary Scholar at the Bourguiba School of Languages in Tunisia, and studied Arabic at the King Fahd Advanced School of Translation in Morocco. He received his education at Johns Hopkins University, New York University and Fordham University.

Areas of focus: Public Diplomacy; Middle East; Africa; US Foreign Policy

Contributor to: Global Engagement