IAP Holds Symposium To Discuss International Issues

Featuring presentations by students and alumni, Phillips Academy’s classrooms were filled with discussion and debate this past weekend, as the International Academic Partnership (IAP) and the Class of 1970 co-sponsored a series of symposiums entitled, “The Gap is Growing: Our Global Development Challenge.” The symposium featured lectures by many of the school’s cultural organizations, as well as a keynote panel composed of prominent members of the Class of 1970, whose work influences policy in the developing world. IAP Director Christopher L. Shaw ’78 explained the motivation behind the day’s discussions, “We tried to encourage a much broader conversation on campus about the challenges that are faced by the half of the world that survives on two dollars a day. It was a remarkable opportunity for students to see a group of alumni that has gone into fields working for change in the third world.” The weekend’s symposium kicked off on Friday evening with a viewing of The Year of Living Dangerously in Kemper Auditorium. The film, which stars Mel Gibson, describes a story of political upheaval in Indonesia in 1965 just before the fall of the country’s president. Following the film, Sara Duvisac ’03, Laurie Ignacio ’04, and Bryce Kaufman ’03 led a Center for Global Justice-co-sponsored discussion on human rights in the Underwood Room. The following day, students, faculty, and alumni gathered in the Lower Left dining hall at Commons for the symposium’s keynote discussion. Panelists discussed the challenges faced by developing nations, including gender equality and economic development. The group of experts included Douglas Adler ’70 of the Export-Import Bank, current Phillips Academy parent Nata Duvvury of the International Center for Research on Women, James Galbraith ’70 of the Lyndon B. Johnson School for Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and James Steinberg ’70 of the Brookings Institution. A bazaar in the Underwood Room featuring the art, food, music, and culture of Africa, Asia, and Latin America was next on the day’s schedule. Also present at the bazaar were members of several community service organizations dedicated to human rights. Representatives from Oxfam International, the United Peace Corps, South Africa Partners, and the United Nations Association of Boston were all on hand to provide information on their activities and recruit volunteers for their respective organizations. The remainder of the day included a number of student-led discussions with members of the Asian Society, International Club, IndoPak, Afro-Latino American Society, and the Philomathean Society, as well as several students from the Economics and African Studies courses. “The student panels presented a great opportunity to listen to some extraordinary academic work,” Dr. Shaw said. “Too often excellent research is done here on campus and only one teacher gets to hear about it.” The first of these student discussions was led by International Club members Tiffany Chen ’04 and Duvisac, and dealt with the important issue of gender equality in developing nations. Next, Brandi Flournoy ’03, Krystal Freeman ’03, Caitlin Littlefield ’03, and Benjamin Stone ’04 presented their research findings on development challenges in West Africa. These presentations were followed by a panel discussion from members of IndoPak and the Hindu and Muslim Student Unions about their vivid experiences dealing with the Hindu-Muslim tensions that divide India. Among the speakers were Duvisac, Sumair Mahmood ’03, and Shaalini Ramanadhan ’03. Rounding out the day’s presentations was another series of student research presentations on the important economic aspects of globalization on the environment, gender equality, and health care in third world nations. Dr. Shaw and members of the Class of 1970 expressed enthusiasm with the student presentations. “[Several of our panel members] commented on how impressed they were with the students on their research and knowledge of their topics,” Dr. Shaw said. Planning of “The Gap is Growing” began when Andy Wexler ’70 approached the school about presenting a series of events to inform students about the issues that plague the developing world. A plastic surgeon from California, Dr. Wexler is a member of an organization that travels around the world providing life-changing cosmetic surgery free of charge to patients in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Founded in 1993, the IAP is an association between Phillips Academy, Aga Khan Educational Services, and the Institute for Educational Development. Composed of over 400 schools around the world, the Partnership aims to foster professional development and curricular innovation at its participant schools. Recently, the Academy has hosted a chemistry teacher from a school managed by Aga Khan Educational Services, and has sent a group of faculty members to Africa to educate local citizens about HIV/AIDS prevention.