What’s the matter at the Conference on World Affairs?



Rows of international flags will again be waving the Conference on World Affairs onto the University of Colorado at Boulder campus next week — and this time, it’s about what really matters.


The CWA, a free event funded by donations, is open to the public. Founded in 1948, the conference originated as a forum for discussing international affairs. It has since expanded to include panels on music, science, spirituality and a wide variety of other topics.

This year’s participants — speaking on panels with titles ranging from “American Optimism: Dead or Alive,” to “Comic Books Saved My Life” — will focus on addressing the overall theme of “What Matters.”

Bryan New, advertising and press liaison for the 63rd annual CWA, started volunteering for the conference in 2007 as a CU student. He says the 2011 conference will offer something for everyone, with timely topics from around the globe.

“If there is something that anyone has an interest in, we can almost guarantee it will be covered here,” New says.

New recommends Thursday’s panel, “Arizona: Coming to a State Near You,” with journalist Lou Dubose, former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack and Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. He says the discussion will likely include some differing perspectives on illegal immigration.

New also says that a few panels, such as Tuesday’s “Know Nukes,” with Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione, should provide some insight into the current situation in Japan and how it might influence nuclear policy in the future.

One participant New thinks students may be interested in is Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist and citizen journalist. Ibrahim, New says, is a 24-year-old who went to high school in California. She flew to Cairo in 2008 and became involved in the movement that led to the recent Egyptian revolution.

“She’ll be exciting, especially for students to come out and see, since she’s so young and had such a big impact worldwide with her role in the revolution in Egypt,” New says.

Mary Rochelle, CWA student volunteer coordinator, says that while panelists are each particularly skilled in a certain discipline, they do not necessarily participate in discussions based on that background.


“All of the participants that come are experts in their field, but when they come to the conference we don’t ask them what they’re an expert in — we ask them what they want to talk about,” Rochelle says.

CWA panels, New says, are organized to incorporate perspectives from participants who may have had a personal experience with their subject, as well as perspectives from academic experts.

Panelists like Colin Goddard, who was shot four times during the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, and who now works with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, will give a personal view on the topic of gun control.

New says that this melding of perspectives offers a well-rounded learning experience for CWA visitors.

Rochelle says that the conference is a good opportunity for CU students and members of the community to interact with each other and expose themselves to new ideas.

“It really opens your mind and reminds you that there’s something outside of you and outside of your life,” Rochelle says. “There are other things happening in the world.”

The 2011 Conference on World Affairs takes place April 4-8. For a full list of panels and participants, check the insert in this week’s paper.

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Details, details

The full Conference on World Affairs schedule is available as an insert in this week’s paper or at www.colorado.edu/cwa.