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Strengthening International Alliances
GW’s Global Forum in Hong Kong examines the United States and Asia in a time of change.
November 16, 2009
“The world is watching, and for GW to stake an interest in Asia at this time is critically important,” said Zeb Eckert, B.A. ’03, a Hong Kong-based reporter for Bloomberg Television. George Washington’s inaugural Global Forum--which brought together nearly 200 faculty, alumni, friends and experts from Asia and the United States--was held in Hong Kong, Nov. 13-14.
President Steven Knapp delivered a State of the University address to participants gathered to exchange ideas about the international political, business, economic and security issues of the day. “Our aspiration now is to match the power of our teaching with the power of our research. As a matter of fact, our investment in our research is also an investment in our teaching,” said Dr. Knapp. “There is no more exciting way to learn than to work with a professor who is pushing the frontier of knowledge, whether the field is neuroscience, literature, environmental engineering or international law. So without in any way lessening our commitment to the classroom, we are building our stature as a university that contributes to the solution of national and global problems.”
During the forum, participants heard from distinguished guests and panelists, including keynote speakers--the Honorable Susan C. Schwab, Ph.D. ’93, American educator and former U.S. trade representative; and Admiral William A. Owens, M.S. ’76, chairman and CEO of AEA Investors Asia--on the issues of U.S.-Asia trade relations and trade politics and peace and security in Asia, respectively.
“It’s fashionable these days to talk about China’s rise and the perceived fall of the United States, but they shouldn’t exaggerate either,” said Amb. Schwab. “The United States cannot and should not be expected to do it alone. Countries, particularly in this region, that have relied on exports for growth need to be stimulating domestic demand. And each should recognize that this is not a temporary phenomenon just at least until we come out of this global recession, but rather a fundamental shift.”
Admiral Owens stressed that the United States must become trusted friends with China. “I’m confident that this is the Asian century, and I want to be part of it,” he said. Mr. Eckert moderated a panel focused on economic and business trends in the Asia-Pacific region, which covered myriad topics ranging from globalization to media entertainment in Asia. Panelists were Donald C. Clarke, GW law professor; Christopher Fussner, B.A. ’79, president of TransTechnology; William Ireton, GW parent and president and representative director, Warner Entertainment Japan; and Susan Phillips, dean of GW’s School of Business and professor of finance.
Director of the GW School of Media and Public Affairs Frank Sesno’s panel comprised experts on U.S. foreign policy in Asia, including Amb. Ralph “Skip“ Boyce, B.A. ’74; David Shambaugh, B.A. ’78, director of GW's China Policy Program and professor of political science and international affairs at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs; and James T.H. Tang, professor of politics and public administration, Hong Kong University. The distinguished panel debated topics prevalent in the news, such as the United States’ efforts to re-engage Asia.
Zoher Abdoolcarim, Asia editor of TIME, moderated the forum’s final panel on international security issues. Participants heard dialogue on the topics of North Korea, nuclear proliferation and the regional balance of powers.
Panelists were Michael Brown, dean of GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs and professor of international affairs and political science; Koji Murata, M.Phil. ’95, professor of international security studies, Doshisha University in Japan; Chu Shulong, Ph.D. ’93, professor of political science and international relations and deputy director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at the Tsinghua University’s School of Public Policy and Management (Beijing); Amb. Yim Sung-Joon, president of Korea Foundation; and Phongthep Thepkanjana, M.C.L. ’79, M.C.L. ’83.
Asia is a significant region for George Washington University. More than 1,000 students from the region currently attend GW, and more than 3,000 alumni are concentrated in Asia—almost 50 percent of the University’s international alumni.
The University has academic partnerships with prestigious universities across the world, including Ewha Womans University, Fudan University in Shanghai, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong University, Korea University and Sogang University in Seoul. Additionally, GW’s Study Abroad program is ranked 11th in size among the more than 3,000 institutions of higher education in the United States.
In his remarks, Dr. Knapp gave several examples of academic research relevant to Asia:
• James Clark, Ronald B. Weintraub Professor of Biology, is working with the institute of Vertebrate Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Dr. Clark’s research has already produced a number of discoveries, including the oldest foreign dinosaur, a scientifically important ancestor of modern birds.
• The GW Law School is partnering with the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur to develop the new Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law in Kharagpur.
• The GW School of Engineering and Applied Science is collaborating with the University of Nagoya in Japan to identify new ways to ensure the validity of devices used to test products for child safety.
• Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Henry Nau and Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies Deepa Ollapally have received major grants from the Carnegie Corporation and the MacArthur Foundation to study the world views of aspiring powers over the next three years. The Sigur Center, based in the Elliott School, conducts policy and research analysis on Asia, and in 2004 was awarded more than $1 million in student fellowship aid.
“People take these conversations back, they build relationships, they learn something, they make new friends and they foster a deeper connection to the University,” said Mr. Eckert. “I think it’s GW’s real strength—the fact that the University has such a strong international presence and so many international students, and is willing to come to Hong Kong from Washington, D.C., to have this type of forum. It says a lot about GW.”’
The inaugural GW Global Forum was sponsored by FedEx. Official media partners of the forum were TIME and Bloomberg, and supporting organizations included the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and the Asia Society.