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June 16, 2024

FAS to feature Gloria Steinem, panel on ISIS

By AMANDA AUBLE | February 5, 2015

The Foreign Affairs Symposium (FAS) hosted a launch event Monday in the Mudd Atrium to share information about the Spring 2015 speaker series, “Chaos / Catalyst / Clarity.”

“We look around at the news and all we see is chaos. But, there are so many people in this world who are attempting [to be] and are catalysts for change and who are bringing solutions and clarity to the world,” FAS Executive Director Sam Romanoff wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “The speakers we brought in are all catalysts who are bringing about good in the world.”

The two notable speakers whom FAS considers this year’s headliners are feminist icon Gloria Steinem (speaking on Feb. 25) and Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York (speaking on March 25). These lecturers are likely to convey a sense of social and political activism.

Through this season’s lineup, FAS aims to provide stronger stimulation to the Hopkins community, as speakers will not only discuss some of the world’s most current, pressing issues, but will also describe their own roles in shaping these events.

“This year we really wanted to think outside the box while also connecting the speakers to what was going on in the world and to current issues that were being talked about on our campus,” Romanoff wrote. “In previous years, a lot of the speakers were blatantly ‘foreign affairs,’ whereas this year I think we took a new approach to that word.”

Director of International Studies Sydney Van Morgan gave an address to students at the FAS launch event. Although newly appointed to her directorial position in July, Van Morgan expressed her excitement for this year’s lineup.

“I’m new to [FAS] so I don’t know what past lineups have looked like,” Van Morgan wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “All I can say is that this roster is top notch,”

Van Morgan said she was especially excited for Steinem’s lecture. Steinem, a journalist, author and political activist, has her own place in history as a prominent leader of the feminist movement, which gained momentum in the late 1960s. Some of her notable achievements include co-founding Ms. Magazine in 1972 and founding the Women’s Action Alliance. Steinem continues to travel and give lectures on feminist issues today.

“[Steinem] has been a hero of mine since my undergrad days,” Van Morgan said. “I admire her very much.”

Photographer and blogger Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York in the summer of 2010 with the aim of photographing everyday inhabitants of New York City. His pairing of photos and unique stories has caused his blog to draw over eight million followers on social media.

“I would say I am most looking forward to Brandon Stanton,” Romanoff wrote. “It’s rare to be able to hear someone who has become famous behind a lens speak about his project and about how he has created such [a] formidable front on social media; something that everyone in our generation is a part of.”

Jack Devine, who will open the 2015 FAS season on Feb. 11, has been the former acting director and associate director of the CIA’s operations outside the U.S., as well as chief of the Latin American division and head of the Crime and Narcotics Center.

In addition, David Plouffe will speak on April 13. Plouffe is a political strategist best known for his work with U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. He is the author of The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory. Since August, he has served as senior vice president of policy and strategy at Uber, the app-based transportation company.

“I think people are really impressed that these speakers are ones that the students can connect to themselves and ones that have been influential in current times,” Romanoff wrote. “We have gotten more reserved seating requests in the past few days than we had in all of last year’s symposium.”

Not only is FAS focusing on covering more popular news events than usual, but it also seeks to promote more student interaction with developing issues.

For example, on March 11, FAS orchestrated an ISIS Panel, in which experts will openly discuss the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This panel is composed of Robert Ford, United States Ambassador to Algeria and Syria; Hadi al-Bahra, president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and journalist Robin Wright, who has covered the Middle East extensively for The Washington Post. The moderator will be David Faris, a professor at Roosevelt University.

FAS will also host a smaller “unplugged” event, titled “A Discussion of Crime and Punishment in 21st Century America,” which will be held on April 7 in Mudd Hall in order to offer students a smaller venue for debate.

“FAS was born to create discussion,” Romanoff wrote. “When we decided we wanted to get a speaker that dealt with the current crime issues of the country, we realized that, because our generation has been so heavily involved in these issues, we wanted students to be able to ask questions rather than just be talked at. So, FAS unplugged was born, a smaller event where the students would have a chance to interact with the expert and speaker and create a discourse.”

All of the FAS Spring 2015 events are free and open to the public; however, reserved seats can also be purchased for $25. Each event, aside from FAS Unplugged, will start at 8 p.m. in the Shriver Hall Auditorium.

FAS will also continue to dissect prominent world events by co-sponsoring a discussion, alongside the JHU Islamic Studies Program and the International Studies Program, concerning the recent terror attacks in Paris and their aftermath on Friday from 3–5 p.m. in the Glass Pavilion.

Since its inception in 1998, FAS has scoured political, economic and social realms to find influential speakers for its annual series. Last year’s lineup included former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and writers from The Onion, a satirical news site. Previous FAS series included Jerry Greenfield, the founder of Ben & Jerry’s; Cady Coleman, a NASA Astronaut and an Occupy Wall Street Panel.

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