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World’s Brightest Minds Converge at UC San Diego April 26-27

School of Global Policy and Strategy 30th anniversary to feature author Stephen Pinker and former CEO of GE Jeff Immelt, among other prominent guest speakers

School of Global Policy dean Peter F. Cowhey. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

Is the U.S. heading toward a second civil war? Will we stop global warming before it is too late? And, who will be the dominant world powers over the next century?

Questions like these will be explored by some of the globe’s top policymakers, diplomats, academics and business leaders, who will be joining the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) in celebrating the school’s 30th anniversary April 26-27. The two-day event will feature panel discussions as well as TED-style talks on pressing topics likely to dominate the news cycles for the next thirty years.

The events, free and open to the public, will feature renowned scholars, such as Steven Pinker, cognitive psychologist, linguist, and best-selling author. Pinker will deliver his sold-out talk, cosponsored by the Helen Edison Lecture Series, at 7 p.m. on April 26. In a conversation with GPS Dean Peter F. Cowhey, Pinker will focus the powerful argument at the center of his new book “Enlightenment Now,” which conveys that despite significant challenges, the conditions of human life have been improving steadily by every measure for the past 200 years.

The April 26 daylong events will feature a keynote address by Jeff Immelt, former chief executive officer of General Electric, and a series of panel discussions with prominent voices like James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic; Enrico Letta, dean at the Paris School of International Affairs (Science Po) and former Prime Minister of Italy; Gabriella Ramos, chief of staff for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and emissary to the G20; Jennifer Harris, senior fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations; and more. Conversations will range from the evolving global order, to the fate of democracy, and the intersection between science, technology as well as policy.

“We look forward to hosting this symposium that will converge such forward-thinking experts to address the crucial societal challenges of the 21st century,” said Dean Cowhey. “With a well-established history of producing internationally-renowned research, this celebration is a fitting recognition of our school’s founding and its critical role in shaping solutions-oriented policy around the globe.”

Prominent faculty and leadership from UC San Diego will also participate in the April 26 panel discussions, such as Todd Coleman, professor of bioengineering; Stephan Haggard, Lawrence and Sallye Krause Professor of Korea-Pacific Studies at GPS; Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor for marine sciences and director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Stephan Savage, professor of computer science and engineering.

Jennifer Burney, GPS professor of environmental science, who designed the April 26 panel on the intersection of science, technology, and public policy, added “We are excited about the breadth of expertise coming together to discuss how technology can enable better policy, and how policy needs to respond to technological innovation, across a wide range of domains.”

On April 27, leading faculty from GPS will convene for a series of TED-style talks relaying their expertise on addressing the major challenges of the 21st century, such as security, prosperity, equality and sustainability. Specific topics include the the power of the status quo by economist Renee Bowen, hidden impacts of pollution by economist Josh Graff Zivin, America’s racial divide and its political consequence by political scientist Zoltan Hajnal, and the increasing polarization of the U.S. electorate by political scientist Barbara F. Walter.

The day will also feature digital poster sessions featuring research by GPS faculty, students and alumni, and a panel on combatting climate change with Luis Alfonso de Alba, special envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit as well as Mario Molina, UC San Diego’s distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Nobel Prize laureate.

For the full schedule of the April 26 and 27 “Forging the Pacific Century” GPS 30th anniversary events and how to register, go to the GPS anniversary event webpage.


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