Global Forum Explores Economic Growth, Democratization

March 19, 2012

General Colin Powell, Alec Ross and Chris Anderson address hundreds in Republic of Korea.

When GW President Steven Knapp greeted General Colin Powell in Seoul, the general saluted the university president and said, “Reporting for duty, sir!”

Although Gen. Powell’s comments were made in jest, Dr. Knapp told the more than 300 attendees, "There is no higher duty that we as a university community have than to come together to reflect on and to shed whatever light we can on those events, issues and trends that are shaping the destiny of our shared world.”

The third GW Global Forum, held March 16 and 17 at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, brought together GW alumni and friends of the university from 18 countries to discuss global issues related to growth and innovation.

A video message from Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-Bak, former visiting scholar at GW and recipient of an honorary degree, kicked off the forum. Next, Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation in the Office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, discussed what he called the massive shift of geopolitical power around the world.

“This shift of power is made possible by the Internet and by increasingly ubiquitous and powerful information networks,” said Mr. Ross. “It’s moving power from hierarchies, including nation states and governments, to citizens and networks of citizens. The Internet shines sunlight and makes the world more transparent. And one of the things we know is that sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Following Mr. Ross’ remarks, Chang Dae Whan, M.A. ’76, chairman and publisher of Maekyung Media Group (Maeil), reflected on his concept of one Asia momentum
“The basis of one Asia is realizing one Asia through regional economic integration in Asia and eventually achieving cultural and political system integration,” he said. Trust, economic freedom and entrepreneurship are key to realizing the concept, he said.

Gen. Powell, M.B.A. ’71, delivered one of the forum’s keynote addresses in which he shared his optimism for the future and the importance of advancing technology and education. While the former U.S. secretary of state addressed the world’s current problems and dangers, he argued that the global community has overcome greater hurdles in the past.

“Accept the reality that more people are living in a democracy than ever before,” said Gen. Powell. “More nations are democracies than ever before. There are fewer wars than ever before. It is a different world.”

“People are moving to a different dynamic that will make the world a better place through innovation and change. The most important part of that is economic growth and wealth creation--wealth creation that brings all people up, wealth creation that creates jobs.”

Gen. Powell also stressed the importance of education.

“I see a world of promises,” he said. “I see a world that we can shape in a better way. I see a world where we can educate youngsters. I see a world where we can teach children to believe, believe in themselves, believe in their country, believe in their society. But the one thing girding all of this is the education of our children. That’s why we need such wonderful institutions like the George Washington University.”

Following a networking lunch, three concurrent panel discussions were held. Zeb Eckert, B.A. ’03, reporter for Bloomberg Television, Hong Kong, moderated a panel focused on the interconnectedness of financial markets. Sonn Young Chang, M.B.A. ’86, founder and chairman of Midas International Asset Management; Jae Woo Lee, M.B.A. ’83, managing partner at Vogo Investment; Sandiaga Uno, M.B.A. ’92, managing director of Saratoga Capital; and Scheherazade Rehman, professor of international business and international affairs, participated in the discussion.

Danny Leipziger, professor of international business and international affairs, moderated a discussion on how education and intellectual property foster creativity. Peg Barratt, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences; Paul Schiff Berman, dean of the Law School; Michael Feuer, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development; and Ki-Su Lee, chair of the Sentencing Commission of the Supreme Court of Korea, took part in this panel.

The third panel was moderated by David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and featured Lynn Goldman, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services; Young-Key Kim-Renaud, professor of Korean language and culture and international affairs; and Jie-ae Sohn, president and CEO of Arirang TV and Radio. This panel discussed how people interact, think, behave and access public health.

The forum also included a segment with Frank Sesno, director of GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs and former CNN White House correspondent, and Ms. Sohn, who discussed how media affects politics and policy. Nobel Laureate and University Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Ferid Murad spoke about the innovations that followed his initial discoveries related to nitric oxide almost 40 years ago.

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, provided the closing keynote address and shared his vision of a third industrial revolution fueled by desktop prototyping and new models of manufacturing.

“We have the capacity to be manufacturers,” he said. “This is a big deal. It's a combination of desktop prototyping and global access to manufacturing for anybody of any scale. It allows us to replicate the web model with physical goods.”

Michael Brown, dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, wrapped up the forum with a discussion on how to address global challenges and invent the future.

“One of the reasons I’m optimistic about the future is because I believe in the power of universities. Universities can do things that other institutions can’t do or they don’t do very well. Universities can look far into the future and make long-term commitments to long-term problems. Universities can adopt a more global perspective. Universities tend to be non-partisan, which makes our recommendations more credible in the eyes of many around the world. Universities bring scholarly weight and rigor to bear on certain problems, and understanding the problem is the first step toward devising a solution.”

“And finally, universities are engines of research and innovation. All of this makes universities extremely important as we think about tackling the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.

GW chose to hold the third Global Forum in Seoul because of the university’s deep ties to the nation. The Republic of Korea is home to nearly 1,000 GW alumni, the most alumni in any overseas country. The university has a special historic relationship with the Republic of Korea that dates back to the 1800s. Philip (So Chae-p'il) Jaisohn, the first Korean to get a medical degree in the United States in 1892, started his medical education at GW. The first president of the Republic of Korea, Syngman Rhee, attended GW along with President Lee Myung-bak, who spent a year and a half as a visiting scholar at GW.

The GW Global Forum-Seoul received support from leadership sponsors Booyoung Co., KCC, and Korean Air; sponsors Daerung Construction, Hansae Co., Midas International Asseet Management Ltd., and SAE-A Trading; and media partner Maeil Business Newspaper.

Past GW Global Forums were held in Hong Kong in 2009 and in New York City in 2010.

To see additional photos and watch a video from the event, click here.

Politics and Society, Learning & Research