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April 16, 2024

FAS announces 2023 spring speaker series theme and lineup

By YANA MULANI and PARKER HAN | February 7, 2023



The symposium will feature discussion on international shifts and patterns surrounding complex topics. 

The Foreign Affairs Symposium (FAS) announced that the theme of its 2023 spring speaker series will be “Paradigm Shift” on Feb. 4. The lineup features activist Heather Booth, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Professor Narges Bajoghli, climate change experts Amali Tower and Patrick Brown, former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and CEO of the National Constitution Center Jeffrey A. Rosen. There will also be a panel on workers’ rights featuring President of Amazon Labor Union Chris Smalls and employees participating in various unions. 

In an interview with The News-Letter, FAS Co-Executive Director junior Rachel Fink explained that this year’s symposium aims to present a positive viewpoint of contemporary foreign affairs following a period of disruptive changes.

“We were hoping to look at the current canon on foreign affairs and political science, but also trying to come at it with something optimistic in this huge moment of change and rediscovery,” she said. “‘Paradigm Shift’ is a positive look forward after the disruptive changes over the past few years as we come out of the COVID-pandemic stage. It’s confronting our changed world.”

Co-Executive Director sophomore Lucas Holloway stated in an interview with The News-Letter that alhough some of the topics seemed to be domestic in scope, the symposium will contextualize them as international phenomena and examine the structural causes. 

“[The event] will be much less focused around workers' rights but will be indicative of larger international shifts, like workers’ rights post-pandemic,“ he said. “We're seeing around the world a shortage of workers but realistically a shortage of people who are still willing to work within the current structure of labor.”

FAS’s first event features a talk by renowned American Civil Rights and Abortion Rights Activist Heather Booth. Booth is a founding member of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union in 1969 and played an instrumental role in the organization of the 1973 National Women’s Political Caucus.

In an interview with The News-Letter, FAS’s Director of Public Relations sophomore Gerardo Fontes highlighted some key points in Booth’s advocacy. 

“She started the Jane Collective in Chicago, which is one of the first underground abortion clinics in the country,” he said. “She's been a big advocate for abortion rights and women rights in general, and [played a role] in the gay-marriage decision [Obergefell v. Hodges].”

The symposium’s second event will present a lecture by retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Hertling was the Commander of the 1st Armored Division and Multinational Task Force Iron in Northern Iraq and was involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sophomore Nupook Suthisamphat, co-executive director of FAS, highlighted how Hertling’s background and experience in national security analysis will provide a unique perspective to the FAS.

“He can speak in detail about the Russo-Ukrainian War and the role that the U.S. can play going forward, like what the U.S. can do in order to avoid these conflicts and mitigate the impact these events can cause not only to the U.S. but to the world population,” she said. 

The third event will bring to the stage SAIS Professor Narges Bajoghli. A political and media anthropologist and documentary filmmaker in training, Bajoghli focuses her academic research on the intersections of media, power and military in Iran.

Fink noted that Bajoghli will be speaking about the current feminist movement taking place in Iran. She added that she hopes Bajoghli will bring a discussion on the international shift in the creation of language for militant feminist movements.

“[This shift] is specific to what we're seeing in Iran, but also what’s cropping up around the world and how the media has interconnected some of those movements,” she said. 

This year marks the first year that FAS will host events in the form of a debate. The fourth and fifth events are debates held in partnership with SNF Agora Institute’s debate initiative.

The fourth event features Amali Tower and Patrick Brown. Tower is the founder of Climate Refugees, an organization that focuses on refugees fleeing climate change, and a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network in Migration, Human Rights & Humanitarian Response. 

Brown is a climate and energy expert, who serves as Co-Director of the Climate and Energy Team at The Breakthrough Institute and also teaches as an adjunct faculty member in the Energy Policy and Climate Program at Hopkins.

“The debate will be on climate refugees and the energy transition related to climate change in general,” Fink said. “Amali is arguing on the side of more urgent policy-making and legislation in regards to climate refugees and our ability to host and support climate refugees as they become a bigger part of international affairs.” 

Also a moderated debate, the fifth event will be on court reform. Former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal is a leading expert in the fields of national security and constitutional law. Jeffrey A. Rosen is a distinguished legal scholar, currently serving as the CEO and President of the National Constitution Center. 

“[The debate] will focus on whether the Supreme Court should be reformed in aspects like term limits or how many justices are on the Supreme Court, especially given recent decisions by the court,” Holloway explained.

The sixth and final event of this year’s FAS will be a panel on workers’ rights. President of Amazon Labor Union Chris Smalls will be speaking in dialogue with the University’s dining workers union and graduate student union. 

According to Fink, the debate will be moderated by Maxmillion Alvarez, the Editor-in-Chief of The Real News Network in Baltimore. 

Suthisamphat explained that this year’s FAS will tackle a range of complex topics, from the abortion rights and workers’ rights movements, to the national security challenges posed by conflicts in various countries abroad.

“These topics are obviously very difficult and some people can find it to be very sensitive, but we want to provide a safe space for the Hopkins community members to discuss these issues freely and express their thoughts,” she said.

Editor’s note: Some quotes were misattributed in the original article and Lieutenant General Mark Hertling was mistitled.

The News-Letter regrets this error.

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