February 27, 2012

John Ashcroft opens foreign affairs series

The annual student-run Foreign Affairs Symposium at The Johns Hopkins University returns on Tuesday, Feb. 28, when former Attorney General John Ashcroft will be the first of six prominent speakers to visit the Homewood campus during the spring semester.

Ashcroft’s talk, at 8 p.m. in Shriver Hall Auditorium, begins the series of topical lectures and a panel discussion under the 2012 theme, The Paradox of Progress: Chasing Advancement Amidst Global Crisis. Ashcroft served as attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, overseeing a historic era of safety and security in the wake of 9/11.

The next event, at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, also in Shriver Hall Auditorium, will be a panel discussion about the Occupy Wall Street movement. It will feature representatives from Occupy sites across North America and has been planned in tandem with Occupy Baltimore and its affiliate organization, B-HEARD.

Other speakers making on-campus appearances this spring are columnist and author David Frum (Thursday, March 15, at 8 p.m. in Shriver Hall Auditorium); Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Wednesday, March 28, at 8 p.m. in Mason Hall); former CIA operations officer and author Valerie Plame (Tuesday, April 3, at 8 p.m. in Shriver Hall Auditorium), whose visit is sponsored by the President’s Office; Wall Street Journal senior economics writer and editorial board member Stephen Moore (Thursday, April 12, at 8 p.m. in the Glass Pavilion); and the series’ keynote speaker, Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and longtime adviser to President Barack Obama (Tuesday, April 17, at 8 p.m. in Shriver Hall Auditorium).

This year’s symposium was headed by Krieger School of Arts and Sciences undergraduates Andrew Davis, a junior majoring in international studies; Eleanor Gardner, a junior majoring in political science and philosophy; and Jillian Martynec, a senior majoring in international studies.

“The 2012 Foreign Affairs Symposium theme continues our tradition of encouraging dialogue and critical discussion about current pressing international issues,” Gardner said. “While technological, cultural and economic innovations help to solve many of the world’s problems, these same advances also pose new challenges to security, economic stability, equality and human rights. We are thrilled to host this year’s symposium and invite [everyone] to take a deeper look into the many different aspects of the paradox of progress.”

“Building off a successful symposium last year, we hoped to take this year’s symposium to an entirely new level,” Davis added. “On top of bringing in speakers like John Ashcroft and Robert Gibbs, we strove to anchor our discussions of world issues right here at home. With this in mind, we spent much of the first semester working in tandem with organizations both on and off campus to produce two highly engaging events. The first of these will be a discussion with the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, on reinvigorating America’s cities. The second will mark an unprecedented gathering of representatives from notable Occupy movements across the country. While here, these representatives will spend their time fielding questions from audience members, explaining the movement’s complex past and outlining their plans for Occupy’s rather uncertain future.”

Each of the events, all of which are free and open to the public, is followed by a reception with the speaker (and a book signing, if applicable).

The Foreign Affairs Symposium’s executive directors and staff begin their planning a year in advance, contacting possible speakers and fundraising throughout the Johns Hopkins and Baltimore communities.