Monday, July 09, 2007

Social Entrepreneurship and Global Change

Date: Friday June 29, 2007
Time: 12:45 pm-5pm
Location: Academy for Educational Development (Greeley Hall), 1825 Connecticut Ave., NW

All of our interns attended this conference sponsored by Americans for Informed Democracy, and below are their reflections on several panels that were held during the event.

Presentation: Carol Welch, U.S Representative for Millennium Campaign
Attending Intern: Alex Martins

The Millennium Campaign in the U.S. works to increase spending on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 1% of the total budget in order to achieve them by 2015. Marketing the MDGs in the U.S. is the greatest challenge in this initiative, according to Welch. To increase support in the U.S. for international aid and development, the importance of these endeavors must be linked to national interests. Americans should be encouraged to think of the MDGs as a down payment on a long-term investment in a safer, more economically prosperous world. Appealing to morality, however, remains a good approach. Pointing to the suffering of Americans themselves - with the memories of Hurricane Katrina still fresh - will hopefully create empathy for those with similar experiences around the world.

Presentation: David Devlin Foltz, Global Interdependence Initiative
Intern Attending: Mike Heslin

The Global Interdependence Initiative, a policy scheme of the Aspen Institute, began in 1992 in an effort to address global integration both inside and outside the realm of economics. Mr. Devlin Foltz spoke about his own career and how to engage different constituencies within the United States for positive social change worldwide. Specifically, he noted the importance of developing a strong communication system and framing these communications on behalf of one’s cause. Mr. Devlin Foltz also explained the need for rigorous planning and evaluation in the field of issue advocacy, where progress can be hard to measure.

Presentation: Jessy Tolkan, Campus Climate Challenge
Intern attending: Peter Laidlaw

Ms. Tolkan, the director for Campus Climate Challenge (CCC), discussed the infrastructure that has made CCC nearly able to achieve its mission: engaging one million students at 1,000 universities and high schools in the United States and Canada to make their schools models of the clean energy future. Ms. Tolkan is a believer in the adage that one person truly can make a difference, and she encouraged her audience to do whatever they were able, no matter how small or inconsequential they thought it to be. CCC uses a student-oriented bureaucracy that has proven successful in spreading the goals of the organization to the target audience, and Ms. Tolkan spoke about how she viewed this grassroots approach as the most sustainable in the long run.

Presentation: Miriam Asnes, ONEVOICE Peaceworks Foundation
Attending Intern: Meredith Blair

Started in 2002, ONEVOICE Peaceworks Foundation utilizes grassroots efforts to unite the “moderate majority” who desire to see the peaceful existence of two states, Israel and Palestine. Ms. Asnes discussed ONEVOICE’s efforts to bring peace to the Middle East region by holding gatherings that give a voice to this region’s moderate majority. To get involved, see their website at

Presentation: Ms. Sarah Holewinski, Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict
Intern: Megan Niedermeyer

Ms. Holewinski conducted a group dialogue which focused on her organization, CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict). She elaborated on the organization’s philosophy of “you harm, you help,” and asserted the group’s strong advocacy for the recompense of victims injured or killed in military conflict. Though the links between this panel discussion and the theme of global social entrepreneurship were weak, Ms. Holewinski did attempt to address the problem of a small amount of people trying to create a large amount of difference.

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