The 2021 College and University Educators Workshop convened professors from across the country for substantive expert briefings and group discussions on foreign policy issues, to learn about the wide variety of CFR and Foreign Affairs academic resources available, and to share best practices and educational tools for bringing international affairs into the classroom.
The full agenda is available here.
This workshop is presented by CFR Academic and made possible in part through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.
HAASS: Well, thank you, Liz, and let me welcome everybody to this virtual workshop. I look forward to the day when we can have our workshops again in person or at least hybrid, but today we’ll do it virtually. I’m Richard Haass, I’m president of the Council on Foreign Relations. I am told we have professors from forty-eight states. And just to be clear, not from the forty-eight states, but from forty-eight of the fifty states. I’m assuming, as well, the District of Columbia. This is a really interesting time to be doing what you do and a really important time to be doing what you’re doing. We’ve got the three decades after the end of the Cold War where you’re seeing the return of great-power rivalry in various forms. The very different kinds of great-power rivalries posted by Russia and obviously China. We are seeing a whole set of global issues, which are outpacing the willingness or ability of the world to come together to contend with them. We’re obviously in the middle, still, of a pandemic that began halfway around the world. But also, we’re feeling the effects constantly of climate change. We just had the massive intrusion in the realm of cyberspace. International terrorism has not gone away. There’s proliferation challenges. There’s all sorts of issues in the trade and monetary domains. So global issues, one way or another, are affecting us in fundamental ways. And all of this is taking place, the revival of these various forms of great-power rivalry, global challenges at a time that the United States is more divided than it has been in modern memory. Seventy-five years after this country essentially adopted an open-ended willingness to lead the world, we are, in fact that decision is being questioned by many Americans, and there is much less consensus on what the content of that leadership ought to be, if in fact, indeed, it ought to continue to exist. And I would just simply say that what you’re doing is the analog in many ways to a traditional civics education. Indeed, we’ve come to think of this as the other side of the civics coin, that in order for a young person leaving a campus today, he or she needs to have under their belt a real understanding of the world and how it will affect them and what it is we do and don’t do in the world will in turn affect it, as well as a real understanding of our political system and our political culture. We’ve made this a real priority at the Council on Foreign Relations. And in addition to our traditional work done in our Studies Program, within the magazine of Foreign Affairs, on the two websites, ForeignAffairs.com and CFR.org, we’ve also made a real commitment to reaching out to individuals and groups such as this one, and we’ve also made a real commitment to making available all sorts of resources that can be used in classrooms, or together with what you’re doing in classrooms, to hopefully, again, contribute to the education of young people.
It’s a good week to talk about all-star situations, given the National Basketball Association. And the fact that my New York Knicks finally have a representative in that game, but I digress. But we do have an all-star panel, and we’re extremely proud of the talent that we can bring to bear here at the Council on Foreign Relations. And no better person than Shannon O’Neil, who i’s deputy director of our in-house think tank, of our Studies Program, and also one of the country’s leading experts on all things Latin America. And who ‘is also just completing a book on supply chains, which has emerged as one of the interesting issues at the nexus of the geopolitical and the geoeconomic. So, Shannon, why don’t I turn it over to you to introduce people and just to say, this is obviously the beginning of the program. Today and tomorrow we’re also going to have a separate panel on the future of work, which is an issue that I think the significance of is going to be accelerated coming out of COVID. And we’ve also got all sorts of sessions dealing with using our resources and teaching and so forth, in many cases based on your experiences where essentially you’ll be able to help one another and to help us. So thank you for your interest. Thank you what you do day in, day out. And Shannon, with that, let me turn things over to you.
O’NEIL: Great. Well, thanks, Richard. And let me add my welcome to all of you to the 2021 Virtual College and University Educators Workshop. And we’re also sorry that we’re not in person, but hopefully down the road that will be a possibility. But given that, remember that this virtual meeting is on the record and we are going to kick it off. So this is going to be a discussion of the forty-sixth president’s incoming foreign policy inbox. And we have four of CFR’s finest to guide us through a tour around the world on what that may mean. You all have their bios so I won’t go into them but let me just introduce them and ask people to raise their hand assuming that others might not know all of your faces the way we do here inside at CFR.
So let me start. First is Steven Cook. Steven is our Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for the Middle East and Africa studies, and he is also the director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars here at CFR. You’ll hear more from him at the end of this panel about that particular fellowship and how it might interest you or some of your colleagues. Next, I’ll turn to Elizabeth Economy. She’s a senior fellow for China with us and she’s also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Next, I’ll go to Jendayi Frazer. She’s an adjunct senior fellow for Africa studies with us as well as the president and CEO of 50 Ventures. And then finally to Matthias Matthijs, who is a senior fellow for Europe with us, as well as an associate professor of international political economy at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
So we will do a tour all around the world for this thirty or so minutes in conversation between the panelists and then we will open up to all of your questions, so please start thinking about what you’d like to ask them. So to start it off, as we all know was vice president, now President Biden, is no stranger to foreign policy and to dealing with issues around the world. He had eight years very close and often inside the White House and other parts of the U.S. administration intricately involved and at sometimes even leading on some of these issues in various parts of the world. But as we all know, a few things have changed over the last four years from when he was last there in 2016. And so he and his new administration that he’s building will face very different challenges around the globe in different contexts than the last time that he was involved in all these things. So I’d actually like to start our conversation there and talk about, in the regions or in the country that you specialize in, what are the real significant changes and what are the issues that will be first up on this president’s inbox as they come to dealing with some of these foreign policy issues? So let me start with Jendayi and start with Africa. And somewhat famously, or let’s say infamously, this was an area of the world that Trump himself and the Trump administration didn’t show much interest in nor much regard, we could say. So as this different team comes in, or assumingly a different team comes in, what are a couple of the biggest challenges that the Biden administration is going to face as they try to reengage with the continent?
FRAZER: Well, thank you very much, Shannon, and good afternoon to everyone. I think that the Biden administration, particularly, whenever you come into office, there’s going to be some crisis that you’re going to face immediately and in different regions. And in this case the crisis that they’re facing is Ethiopia, the war with Tigray. And this is extremely important to the United States because, of course, Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, is the seat of the African Union, which is a continental organization that is, in fact, charged with peace and prosperity and good governance on the continent. It’s also the seat of many of the international organizations, and it’s just a symbol, it’s a country that has never been colonized. It’s a country that has peacekeepers that has played a huge role in terms of the stability of other countries by deploying peacekeepers around the region. It had the fastest growing economy and one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. And so this was really an engine of stability and progress in Africa, and now it’s moved into what effectively is a civil war and even some would say looking like an ethnic cleansing or even approaching genocidal levels in Tigray that has involved other countries like Eritrea that’s come in. And so they are faced and they are working—the Biden administration is holding principals meetings and deputies meetings right now dealing with this big crisis that they’re faced with.
Of course, every country, I mean, the Biden administration is going to be dealing with the COVID issue. And the key issue in Africa right now around COVID is, of course, the new variants and so there’s a second wave that’s coming. Africa actually didn’t get hit hard with the first wave, because it had time to prepare looking at what happened in Europe, looking at what happened in the United States, it was able to shut down the economy and put in place the mitigating factors that helped them to sort of not have a big push. But with these new variants, in fact, the rates are going up since January. And the other question, the other issue around COVID is, of course, vaccine efficacy and vaccine equity. And the continent has pushed to make sure that they’re not left out of receiving COVID vaccines, and so there’s a lot of focus on that. The Biden administration, again, is done well by announcing at least $2 billion that would go towards a Covax facility, which is global, but also looking at more money that could go toward making sure that vaccine equity—which is in our national interest—takes place. And so I think that’s another big issue.
Of course, the administration is faced with addressing the big footprint of China in Africa, which has been a growing presence over the last decade or so. It’s been there before, from the 1960s even, but really, it’s made a big footprint, a big impact on the continent. And so the administration has to address the questions of how can you, in some instances, work with China and in other instances, you’re having to balance and contain China? And specifically, how do you make sure that the relationship that is being built between China and Africa is not eroding American influence? There are suggestions that that’s happening, because if you look at the UN, more African countries are now voting with China’s political agenda at the UN than the United States, and that’s, I think, the effect of the last four years of inconsistent engagement by the Trump administration with Africa. I think it’s quite easy, in fact, for the Biden administration to put the United States back on the front foot because there’s latent support and appreciation of the United States within the population in Africa. The United States consistently in surveys is seen as more popular than China, despite China’s very heavy investment into the continent of late. So I think that those are three of the big issues.
And then the opportunity is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement just came into effect in January of this year, in 2021. It was delayed because of COVID. It offers the opportunity, if the United States and if the Biden administration can develop and leverage initiatives that we already have and develop new initiatives that support American business so that American business can become more invested in Africa and do more trading with a broader bloc. Because part of the problem for American investors has been Africa is so fragmented and the markets are so small, but when you get the Continental Free Trade Agreement in its implementation you have the largest free-trade zone in the world, other than, of course, the WTO. And that point about the WTO is important because it also now has the new director general is a woman from Nigeria. She’s Nigerian and she’s American—Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. And the Biden administration smartly and very early took away the suspension of her appointment that the Trump administration had put in place and blessed her appointment, allowed it to go forward. And so Africa, with a Nigerian former finance minister and foreign minister in that position and that Continental Free Trade Agreement, offers an opportunity. So I think those are probably the four big issues that are in the Biden administration’s inbox. There are the others that persist—governance issues, terrorism issues, just generally, anti-corruption issues—but the new ones that are both a threat and an opportunity for American interests are the ones I’ve just mentioned.
O’NEIL: Okay, great. That’s really helpful and we’ll come back to maybe what the Biden administration should be doing, but that’s a great landscape of what they’re facing. Let’s turn to an adjacent area not too far away. Let’s go to the Middle East. So Steven, talk a little bit about the biggest issues that this new team is facing already.
COOK: Well, there are so many of them. It’s the Middle East, so we always have a full agenda. But before I do that, I just want to say welcome to everybody who’s from forty-eight states who are joining us today for this conversation, and it’s great to be here with my colleagues. There are actually a lot of issues on the agenda, but what I thought I would do is I would lay out what is different for President Biden from the time he was the vice president of the United States, as well as many of the people that he’s appointed who had worked in the Obama administration that they are going to find is quite different. And I’ve come up with five new or newish issues for them. The first is that there are now five countries in the region that are in some state of collapse. There were a number of countries that were in a state of collapse when they left office, but conflicts have gotten deeper—Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya. And let me just highlight the fact that Lebanon is often one that people forget about, but it is the country that has truly collapsed in a way. And for our audience and educators, there is some talk of moving the famous and storied American University of Beirut to someplace in the Gulf, because they just don’t have the money or the security to run the university in Beirut any longer. It’s an extraordinary situation what’s happening in Lebanon.
The second new or newish issue on the agenda is that what now President Biden is going to confront when he turns his attention to Iran, which is a country that is much closer to developing its nuclear technology than when he left office as vice president in January 2017. The previous administration’s maximum pressure campaign has not worked. And it did not either affect regime change or bring the Iranians back to the table to negotiate a better deal. And what they’re confronted with is actually a much shorter timeline for Iranian proliferation than when he left office.
The third new or newish issue that this administration is going to have to confront is that China and Russia are in the region in kind of serious ways. Not just that the Chinese are investing in various places in North Africa and the Gulf. Not just that, in my last pre-COVID visit to the Egyptian Ministry of Defense, where they pointedly told me that the United States should not ask them to choose between China and the United States, because they’re not going to make that choice. It is that countries like Egypt that have been partners of the United States for a long time, countries like the United Arab Emirates, which is an important partner to United States, now have alternatives to the United States. So whatever leverage we tell ourselves that we have, we still may have some but they also have alternatives. And obviously, the Russians have saved the Assad regime to the extent that one saves the Assad regime. And that has had an impression, made an impression upon leaders in the region who looked at the way in which the Obama-Biden administration dealt with its long-term strategic partner in the Middle East, Hosni Mubarak, who after a few days of protest, was encouraged to leave. That has made an impression on authoritarian leaders who want their external patrons to support them to the hilt.
The fourth new or newish issue on the table, and this is something that’s related to the third one, is the emergence of China and Russia as serious actors in the region, is that American partners have, over the course of the last four years, five years, even six years, taking matters into their own hands. They have seen the United States as being feckless, as not necessarily living up to its word, and had taken matters into their own hands. In an interesting way this has driven a strategic consensus in the region among Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a number of others. And depending on the way in which the Biden administration approaches the Iran issue, the United States, which has been trying to drive relations among these countries for many, many years, may find itself on the outside of that strategic consensus, which could be a very interesting dynamic.
And then finally, the final new or newish issue in the Middle East is the debate that’s really happening here in Washington—I sit in Washington—about whether the United States should leave the Middle East or how the United States should remain in the Middle East. Does the United States require the kind of military investment in the region that it has maintained over the course of the last twenty years or so. I’d say the answer to that has been a resounding, ““No, we don’t,” but no one’s come up with a very good answer as to how we should remain in the Middle East.” So the default has been just to say, we need to reduce, we need to retrench, we need to withdraw. That’s not terribly satisfying, and it feeds the dynamic in which countries do take matters into their own hands. I can make an argument, I don’t have the time, but I’ll preview it here that part of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen was a function of their belief that, one, the United States was seeking to replace Saudi Arabia with Iran as its primary interlocutor in the Gulf, and two, was seeking to leave the region, the famous pivot to Asia, which was not something that was terribly original to the Obama administration by the way. This is something that George H.W. Bush talked about thirty years ago. But nevertheless, that drove in port some of the thinking that went into Saudi Arabia’s disastrous intervention in Lebanon. I could go on and on and on.
O’NEIL: But I’m not asking you to so I can get to the other panelists.
COOK: I haven’t slept in ten years because of the Middle East, at least haven’t slept in ten years, but I will hand it back to you, Shannon, to talk about two, I think, much more important regions of the world—Europe and China.
O’NEIL: We’ll come back to you, Steven. I’m going to stay in the same set of time zones and longitude and go to Matthias. We just saw in the last couple of weeks when President Biden went to the Munich Security Conference, and he said, ““America, we’re back. We’re coming back to Europe.”“ But what is he coming back to? So what are the issues for Europe, for European nations as they look to the United States? And how do you see them engaging or thinking about engaging with this new administration?
MATTHIJS: Yes, thank you, Shannon, that’s actually a great question. I mean, I think it’s fair to say that, I believe it was Saturday, November 7, when the network’s finally announced that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the presidency, that there was a kind of deep sigh of relief all over Europe, even including, I think, in Brexit Britain, at a kind of return to some normal transatlantic relationship. That said, you’re absolutely right. I mean, 2020 has also been the year that I think a lot of things that were undecided in the European context finally fell into place, right? So one is, Brexit was settled. It was settled, you could say even quite successfully against all odds. And I think Europe came out, the European Union at least, came out of that stronger and more united. Even the initial response to the COVID pandemic in March was botched and quite dramatic, especially for the Italians and the Spanish initially, Europe got its act together very quickly. I mean, I’ve been writing about these elusive Eurobonds for ten years, and I never thought that Germany would finally sign on to them. And you can see that the shift, because of Trump being in office and kind of abandoning Europe, Britain leaving the EU, that the French have gotten quite a bit more weight. And so Emmanuel Macron’s vision for a more European and more solidarity and of strategic autonomy, kind of came together in cooperation with Berlin and Germany around the Next Generation EU, so the European recovery fund of 750 billion euros that they put in place that’s starting in earnest now. They also, and that was more the pressure of Germany, signed an investment agreement with China, which they kind of concluded in record pace and it was meant to be done by the end of the German presidency and they managed to do this. There were ambitious climate agreements. And even they managed to keep Hungary and Poland within the tent, which, i’s a very, very hard problem for the EU because it goes to the EU values and backsliding and democracy and so on.
So on the last point, I think they actually very much welcome the Biden presidency and I’ll come back to this in the second round when we talk about opportunities. So that’s number one. The EU—which I’ve lived in Washington for long enough—many American analysts usually kind of say, ““Well, they never get their act together.”“ I think they did in 2020; it was a real decisive year. And so when Biden finally became president there was a sense amongst the EU, okay, well, how good is your word, right? I mean, we’ve been scarred, we have the scars on our backs from the Trump presidency. Four years from now who will replace Joe Biden—it’s not clear. So that’s, I think, one important point where I think that the Biden administration, the European officials especially, were maybe a little bit disappointed in the reception of Europe. It was nowhere near Barack Obama’s three hundred thousand people before he was elected in Berlin showing up in a, kind of, wave of enthusiasm in Europe, but it was more like, okay, this is great, but let’s be realistic of what we can achieve. And so that’s the other thing, right? So Europe doesn’t want to be part of a new cold war between the U.S. and China. And I imagine, Liz will talk about this next. They very much believe in this kind of concept of sovereignty or EU open strategic autonomy. And we can unpack that later. And so that’s number one. When it comes to Russia, Germany has very different interests, right? I mean, there’s a long relationship. Nord Stream II for them is purely an economic affair. Americans don’t see it at all this way. So there’s that whole dealing with the EU as the EU is trying to become a kind of independent actor in this emerging contest of superpowers that I think the Biden administration will find rather challenging.
And the second aspect that I want to talk about, just a little bit as well, is what to do with the UK now, right? Now that the UK is no longer a full member of the European Union, traditionally playing this kind of role of bridge between Washington and Brussels or between Washington and Berlin, it seems to me the Biden administration will have its hands full just dealing with a very tricky issue and that’s the Northern Irish issue, right? Because what has become awfully clear in just the last few weeks is that this deal that Boris Johnson signed with the European Union, it leaves this question hanging, right? There was always a question of where you’re going to put a border if you’re going to leave the single market and the customs union. It was settled by saying it’s going to be in the Irish Sea, but we’re going to pretend that it isn’t there, right? And so that’s been the kind of, if you want the technological solution that Boris Johnson has come up with. But just a few hours ago, the Loyalist Council of Northern Irish unionists has formally withdrawn their support of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. That’s just happened today. There’s real pressure on these inspections and these checks and these customs controls in the Irish Sea not to happen. Joe Biden is an Irish American, he’s very proud of this. Ireland looks to America to settle this. So I think he’s going to actually spend more time playing bridge between London and Brussels, than he’s going to be able to use the UK. Also, I think he’s going to have to disappoint the UK in their big dream of having a free-trade agreement with the U.S. that will somehow replace their relationship with the EU. But that’s another thing we will come back to. So it’s fair to say that the transatlantic relationship that Barack Obama found in 2009 has become a lot more complicated and it will be a lot harder to engage in.
O’NEIL: Great, thanks. And finally, Liz, let’s jump many time zones and move to China. And arguably, one of the biggest changes over the last four years has been the relationship between the United States and China on a whole host of issues. And so can you talk, frame a little bit what China is Biden going to be facing or engaging with? How has China changed and what is it that he’s going to have to deal with as he goes forward with foreign policy there?
ECONOMY: Right. Thanks, Shannon. It’s great to be here with you and thanks to Irina and her team for bringing us all together. So this is a good day to think about China. Tomorrow is the first day of China’s two sessions when they bring together roughly five thousand people. It’s the annual gathering of their National People’s Congress, their legislature, and their Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is their advisory body to the legislature. And they are on the cusp, this is their first year of their fourteenth five-year plan. So this is the moment in which they’re basically setting out the strategy for looking ahead. And the messaging that we’ve heard from Beijing is very positive, right? Xi Jinping has eliminated absolute poverty. The economy is in the process really of rebounding from the pandemic better than any other of the major advanced economies. China concluded the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which represents 30 percent of global GDP, it’s the countries of ASEAN and some other Asian countries. And as Matthias mentioned, also the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with Europe. And China really wanted to get both of those done before the Biden administration came into power because Xi Jinping was a little bit afraid that Europe might take a step back, which it clearly didn’t.
When I look ahead sort of at where I think China is going, I see two sort of big trends. The first is greater insularity at home and the second is a more expansive China on the global stage. And although I think there will be a few new opportunities for the United States in terms of cooperation with China, overall I think the kinds of changes that Xi Jinping is pursuing are likely to complicate the ability of the United States to pursue its own political and economic interests. So domestically, what’s going on in China now is a lot about self-reliance and self-sufficiency and increasing the trend toward decoupling. A lot of people blame the Trump administration for decoupling, and in fact, they did really initiate it on the U.S. side and accelerated the process. But you have to look back to 2014 when the Chinese announced their “Made in China 2025” program, because that really was a very significant move toward decoupling. Basically the Chinese said that in ten critical cutting-edge areas of technology, they wanted to control manufacturing of components. So that included things like new materials, new energy vehicles, medical devices, many things that the United States and U.S. industry is very good at. So now they’ve moved ahead. Xi Jinping has really used this “Made in China 2025” program and taking it up a notch to announce what they’re calling a dual circulation policy. And that’s basically China’ saying that they can have a closed loop of innovation, manufacturing, and consumption. They’re a country of 1.3 to 1.4 billion people, right? So they basically have their own mini global economy, and so what they’re looking to do—that’s one part of the dual circulation—and the other is they’re going to engage, of course, with the global economy but on their terms. They’re going to use the global economy for exports and they’re going to use it to import needed technology and know-how, and maybe some financial capital to the extent that they need it. But what we see now is a big expansion in the range of areas that they’re talking about for self-sufficiency. So agriculture—which, I haven’t heard since practically the 1980s or 19’90s, China talking about agricultural self-sufficiency—pharmaceutical products, cars, cosmetics, tourism, everything in the entertainment and cultural sphere, all of these things are areas where they believe that they can do as good a job if not better than the international community. And so there’s going to be a real push domestically to develop those industries. And I think that’s going to be challenging for the United States, because again, these are areas where the U.S. dominates, right, and our agricultural exports to China are a significant part of our export market with some of our trade. I also think that this new self-sufficiency and greater focus domestically is going to be matched by enhanced political control. We can talk about that if people are interested. But I think enhanced surveillance, national rollout of their social credit system, which is their system for evaluating the political and economic trustworthiness of their own citizens, a new digital currency that they’re planning to deploy, they’re aiming for the Olympics, but this has all sorts of implications in terms of being able to avoid the SWIFT system and the dominance of the dollar, so there’s a lot going on there.
On the global stage, I think China,’ Xi Jinping is going to increase its push as China as a global leader. The best example that we see right now, of course, is China’s vaccine diplomacy, but also, bold initiatives on climate change. Earlier this year, Xi announced that China wanted to be carbon neutral by 2060. They’re moving forward with carbon market. They’ve had an experimental platform that hasn’t really been very successful, but they’re nonetheless pushing forward to roll it out on a national level. I think they want to own green technology. I think Xi Jinping sees a real advantage here. And so they’re going to ramp up on electric cars, for example. So I think’ that is an area where we talk a lot about potential cooperation between the United States and China and climate change, but there also is the potential for a lot of competition when you look at the sort of manufacturing and production side of the green technologies.
I think we’re also likely to see a big shift in the Belt and Road Initiative. I think China’s going to pull back from the hard infrastructure projects—the ports, the railroads, the highways—and sort of emphasize more of the Digital Silk Road, so, fiber-optic cables, e-commerce, satellite systems, this new digital currency that I mentioned, and then the Health Silk Road, right? So one of the things also about, obviously the COVID-19 pandemic, is that China’s out there now pushing traditional Chinese medicine, pushing Chinese medical devices. They’re building some hospitals. They’re tracking surveillance systems for health that links nicely into the Digital Silk Road. So I see them moving into the Health and Digital Silk Roads and pulling back a little bit from the very costly, hard infrastructure, that landed them actually in a lot of hot water in a number of countries, especially, actually as Jendayi knows, in Africa where a number of countries are and have been attempting to renegotiate their debt with China.
And then, finally, I’d say we should anticipate that China’s going to push forward with what I would call “reordering the world order.” And that means its ‘sort of bigger strategic objectives. And I’ll just tick those off. I think reunification because for Xi Jinping and his great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation narrative, there is no great rejuvenation if China’s not reunified. So that, of course, as you know is Xinjiang, and Hong Kong, and the South China Sea and Taiwan in the first instance, but we also saw the border conflicts with India over this year. So China’s got territorial disputes with fourteen countries at least. So I anticipate that we’re going to see more effort in China to begin to try to reclaim what it claims as sovereign territory. Moving the U.S. out of East Asia, I think China’s indicated is interested in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the CPTPP, which was the new version of the TPP. So I think there’s going to be some pressure on the Biden administration to decide whether they’re going to push forward with that or not. I know the new USTR head, Katherine Tai, has said that there’s some openness there. So that’ll be something to watch.
And then, look, China is also trying to change norms and values. It’s had basically a free ride in the United Nations over the course of the past four years with the Trump administration until the very end of the administration. And I think this is an area where the Biden administration is likely to be, certainly is going to be, in fact, more active. But on issues like human rights and internet governance, technical standards, even development finance, its Belt and Road, it has made a lot of headway in terms of advancing its own norms and values in international institutions. So I think, we’ve got a much more ambitious China on the global stage. We have, I think, moving toward a slightly more insular China domestically, and then, is China going to try to clean up some of its mess? And I think, Jendayi got it exactly right when she talked about the fact that despite the Belt and Road, despite, China’s sort of outreach to Africa even when the United States was pulling back, Xi Jinping’s ratings, China’s ratings, in terms of sort of the trust across the globe that you see in polls, trust in China, do the countries want China to be a regional leader, for example, rates are very, very low. And so I think there is really an opportunity for the United States to step in and try to recover a little bit of it’s sort of global soft power and its image. And I think it’ll get a quick bounce, but it’ll have to work for the rest of it. And then finally, I think, what’s going on in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, there’s going to be a lot of countries now are having debates about the Olympics, should they boycott the Olympics? So China has actually a number of messes that it’s created over the past few years that it has to decide is it willing to tolerate all of this disequilibrium in the system or is it going to try to clean some of these up? Thanks, I’ll stop there.
O’NEIL: So we’ve laid out not a few challenges that the new Biden administration has and I want to turn to a bit of each of your thoughts on what they should be doing about it and sort of where they’re headed. Now, I want to make sure that we get to questions and everything, so I’m going to ask us all to do this in a more of a lightning round. So I’m going to just give you one of the issues that you all brought up and just have you expound a little bit on where they’re headed and or where they should actually be headed or how you would advise them if you were going to do that. So, Jendayi, let me have you focus on, you talked about, vaccine equity and that being a huge issue for the continent. And obviously it’s something that the previous U.S. administration did not focus on at all, thinking about that. So talk a little bit about how would you have a Biden administration engage on that, would be directly USAID? Would it be through multilateral institutions? How would be the best way for the U.S. once we supposedly in May we all have access, all U.S. adults have access to vaccines, where would you have them head?
FRAZER: Sure. Thank you, Shannon. Well, first of all, I think they’ve already made the most important right step, which is to rejoin the WHO—the World Health Organization. I think that is absolutely critical. And in doing so they’ve showed that they’re going to have a multilateral approach to their foreign policy. And so I think that it’s important for them to go ahead and support the COVAX initiative because it shows that they’re operating multilaterally. But I would also think if the Biden administration wants to take serious leadership, and I understand we have our issues at home, but they could do an initiative working with, African countries, working with like Gavi, or foundations and others, to do a major initiative on getting vaccine into Africa. They could work with Johnson & Johnson in particular, because that’s a one-shot vaccine that doesn’t require the type of cold storage. But they wouldn’t necessarily only have to work with Johnson &Johnson, because a country like Rwanda has already prepared with bringing in all the cold storage, so they’re ready for our Moderna vaccine that requires that much deeper cold storage. So focusing on, I’ll just put it this way, a PEPFAR-type initiative, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. An initiative at that scale, I think, would make a big impact. And I would also say that they need to look at the issues of intellectual property as well and moving quickly to generics so that other countries can actually produce these vaccines because there is an issue of too little production. We see it in the United States. That’s going to be the case, of course, globally and if you move quickly to a generic regime, I think you can address that. And so think big, continue to work multilaterally, and also focus on particular countries where you can get something done fast. I would adopt three or four or five or six countries and do the entire country.
O’NEIL: Great. Steven, let’s focus you on Iran. So Iran has now turned down the opportunity to come back to the table and have a conversation. What should Biden do now?
COOK: Well, I think—I am unmuted, okay, great. I think we should do the opposite of what Jendayi is suggesting in Africa, which is to go big. And I think when it comes to Iran and Middle East, we should go small. We keep trying to do things in the Middle East that have a level of difficulty of ten-plus. And we saw that the JCPOA, in some sense, destabilized the region, radicalized the region a certain way. Maximum pressure of the Trump administration also destabilized and radicalized the issue. Trying to get back into a JCPOA or JCPOA 2.0, again, raises the prospect of regional actors that I talked about before taking matters into their own hands, regional actors using their influence in places like Washington and playing the politics, the polarizing politics, of the Iran debate in Washington. And so I can understand the desire to get back into the JCPOA or negotiate a new, more comprehensive one, though that has significant problems given the fact that it’s very unlikely that the Iranians will give up their missile forces or give up their ability to influence the region through regional proxies, like we’ve seen in Iraq recently, like we’ve seen in Lebanon, like we see in Yemen. So it strikes me that rather than doing that, what we should really be doing is kind of—it’s not going to win anybody a Nobel Peace Prize, but very basic containment and deterrence of Iran. That doesn’t preclude negotiations with the Iranians. It doesn’t preclude hitting the Iranians where they deserve to be hit. What it does is it establishes rules of the road in the region that will actually stabilize the region and perhaps set the region up for more productive negotiations down the road. But right now, right now, it doesn’t seem that everybody is ready for these negotiations. Our primary partners in the region are all, for the moment, okay with what the Biden administration is doing, but they’ve all said in one way or another, a “bad Iran policy” is going to unleash us to undermine it once again. So I think we should go small here—deterrence, containment. We can contain Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy and through establishing actual red lines in the region. We just have tried this level of difficulty, either maximum pressure leading to regime change or this kind of Rube Goldberg device of a JCPOA or JCPOA 2.0, which is just too complicated at this point. I’ll stop there. Thanks.
O’NEIL: Matthias, turning to Europe, there’s a lot of talk out there that the place for Europe and the United States to begin the conversation to come back together is on climate change and green economies because Europe’s green and the Biden administration is green so this is the place to start. Is that true, is this the place to start? And why, if so, or why if not, why not? Why might it be more difficult than the environmentally friendly folks think it’s going to be?
MATTHIJS: Yes, it’s an excellent question, and I think it’s just something that Liz alluded to earlier about China as well, right, is that there’s obvious competition here. I mean, when you talk about carbon-free trade and things like this, right? I mean, if you want to, on the one hand, commit to multilateral rules and open-trade system and so on, there’s obvious competition going on as well, right, between the American companies and European companies. So I think that Europeans welcome the signing on to the Paris Agreement, right, but also very quickly pointing out that that’s easy to do, right? And actually that’s not where the action is. The action really is into kind of transforming these economies from a kind of old, dirty economy to a much greener, much cleaner economy. And that’s, I think, as far as I understand in the United States most of the action is not at the federal level, right? It’s at the state level, even at the city’s level, while the EU has a much more sort of comprehensive incentive system for all member states to do this and also to do this in a kind of fair way, right, where countries like Poland, like Hungary are having a much longer way to go and are getting compensated by European Union cohesion and structural funds and so on. So I think climate change will be relatively easy from that point of view, in that if both countries follow their own agendas, they will go a long way. But I think the most promising area for cooperation where I think the Europeans are actually hoping the Biden administration can give them support is on democratic values, right? And that’s when it comes to Hungary and Poland, it is incredibly hard for Brussels to incentivize these countries, and I think that kind of moral voice that was completely absent in the last four years from the United States. It was absent in the case of Turkey within NATO as well, right, but I think for Hungary and Poland, two NATO members, two EU members, where I think the EU is actually hoping a much more kind of strict commitment of the Biden administration to democratic values.
O’NEIL: Great. And then Liz, I’m going turn to you and then we’ll turn to the questions from all of you educators and those in the audience. So much for China, but let me ask you about the shift in Belt and Road and whether it provides an opportunity for the U.S. administration to sort of change the nature things or it just becomes a greater challenge. And as I look at the previous Belt and Road and it’s sort of hard infrastructure of rails and ports and roads and things, the U.S. was never there because the U.S. government doesn’t fund those kinds of things and the U.S. private sector wasn’t really doing it because of financing and all those challenges. And so it was really open space that we didn’t see a lot of challenge on. Now that you’re getting into health issues and digital issues and some of these others, in some places at least, there are alternatives, U.S.-based alternatives or European-based alternatives. Does that change sort of the calculus in terms of how the U.S. responds to this outreach? Or is it all the harder because China is making this big effort and we’re not there yet? How do you see that playing out?
ECONOMY: Yes, thanks. I do want to say one thing on Matthias’s point. So, Matthias, I’m glad to hear that the Europeans are up for the values, truly up for the values war because the U.S. is looking to Europe on China and so far, France and Germany are kind of like, “Hey, see you maybe later,” and we’re looking toward Estonia at this point. So I’m just putting that out there.
MATTHIJS: It’s Hungary and Poland and I guess you’re absolutely right, they look at China and—
COOK: Nothing wrong with the Estonians.
ECONOMY: No, I love Estonia. I’m just saying we’re going to have to arrange for an entire new sort of alliances for the United States at this rate. But in any case, to your point, Shannon, look, I think the Chinese have made an enormous amount of progress on the Digital Silk Road and the Health Silk Road just in the past few years. But this is an area where it’s not only the United States, but Japan, the EU, even Australia, there are many other countries who are also technologically proficient. And so if we are able to do what a lot of people have advised the Biden administration to do, which is basically, get together with a Tech 10 or a Tech 12 and sort of coordinate in terms of standards and technologies, then I think we have an enormous opportunity. And, I mean, but in the past four years China produced submarine cables, right, which connect underwater cables that connect telecommunications from one country to the next underwater, China’s gone from something like 2 percent to 18 percent of the world. Now, it’s still not where the United States is, right? But it’s the sort of trajectory that China’s on that’s so impressive. When you look at e-payments, they’re clearly far ahead of the United States. And so at this point, we are in a little bit of a place of catch up. You saw Janet Yellen come out recently just the past, I guess, week or so and talk about how the United States needs to be thinking about a digital currency, right? That was really not anywhere on the U.S. government radar, but it is now and that’s because China is launching its digital currency electronic payment system. And it’s already setting up partnerships. Some in the Middle East and it’s already trying to push through in Africa. So there are opportunities, but we’re going to need to be very nimble and move very quickly and in concert with our allies. So I think it can be done, but it ‘has to be one of the top priorities for the administration.
O’NEIL: Good, I’m going to turn to Liz to tell people how they can ask a question.
STAFF: Our first question is a written submission from Karen Linden: “What global impact has China’s Belt and Road initiative related to cross-border business mergers and acquisitions in emerging economies?”
ECONOMY: You know, and I’m not sure that—I guess I’ll take that—but maybe Jendayi has some thoughts on it as well from the perspective of Africa. I don’t think that the Belt and Road has been particularly aggressive about mergers and acquisitions. That’s not really what it’s set up to do. It’s really about funding infrastructure development. And it’s very much bilateral, as opposed to if we’re talking cross border among other countries, very much sort of bilateral dealing. So it’s about China, lending money even more than investing. Lending money to countries and then using Chinese machinery, Chinese labor, to build the projects, and then paying the Chinese back. So there is a lot of Chinese merger and acquisition, but where they tend to focus their energy is on high-tech merger and acquisition. So overall investment from China in Belt and Road is actually pretty low. It’s like 12 precent of overall FDI coming from China is in Belt and Road projects. So I would say it’s not particularly important but maybe, Jendayi, you have a different perspective.
FRAZER: No, I don’t. I would agree with you. When you look at Africa, they’ve done more acquisition, not merger, and acquisition out of other businesses but of all the projects, from the point of view of procurement when government is looking to give competitive bids and tenders out for whether they’re doing a railroad or doing the airport in Kenya right now. A Chinese company just won a bid to refurbish the terminals and the African construction companies are up in arms saying they’re not competing fairly and why are they getting all of, why are they winning all of these tenders. And so it’s really, they’re not even investing in African construction companies. Kenya, as an example, I spent a lot of time in Kenya, so I’ll talk about Kenya, in its new housing projects they’re saying to the Chinese companies that have all the technical expertise and the financial backing to win these bids that they have to bring on African suppliers, to try to make them help develop the industry itself, the indigenous industry. And so there’s that, but no, I haven’t seen them buying very many African companies across the continent.
O’NEIL: Let’s take the next question.
STAFF: We’ll take the next question from Biko Agozino.
Q: Thank you. I’m Biko Agozino from Virginia Tech. I can tell from the focus of everyone that China is seen as a big piece of the puzzle, but I like to follow on the comment from Shannon by asking whether we can see China not as an enemy because we buy so much from China, we sell so much to China. We don’t do that with enemies, right? So can we see China as a partner, especially in the context of Africa? What are the needs of Africa? And how can the U.S. and China work together as partners to serve the needs of Africa better rather than seeing China as a rival to be fought or defeated in Africa? That’s not what Africans want.
FRAZER: Well, I would agree with you 100 percent that no one wants a new cold war in Africa. And that would, that would be a waste of time and energy. And it wouldn’t work, there would be no winners in a scenario like that. So I did mention that I thought that there were probably some areas to cooperate but let me be very clear. In the Washington circles, to say that you’re going to cooperate with China globally will get you in quite a lot of trouble. And so the Biden administration is constrained in its ability to actually forge a policy that openly states that cooperation with China is what’s desired. And that’s particularly because Xi Jinping’s approach to the global ambitions are very different than his predecessor. And he, in fact, is looking to be the leader of the Global South, right? In many ways there’s a feeling that he’s looking to replace a liberal international order and so there is sort of an existential systemic competition there in terms of values. Let’s just say that. So yes, I take your point that on a day-to-day basis, we shouldn’t be seeing China as our enemy and we shouldn’t make, as some people say, China ten feet tall. It’s another country with all of its own domestic problems, and even when it goes into Africa, it faces the challenges that are there in terms of operating in Africa and it takes advantages of the opportunities there. And so what I say is that instead of the United States saying it’s going to compete with China, it needs to actually just get its own game in place. The United States needs to actively engage the African continent, and by actively engaging in the African continent, China will be properly balanced. Let’s put it that way. And I’m not saying balanced in a negative fashion. I’m not saying that we’re trying to stop China from engaging in Africa. What I’m saying is we need to project American influence, American values, and American power, and give space. I mean, let’s be clear, part of China’s ways of engaging in Africa, and this is a negative side, we haven’t said too much on the negative side, is they win these tenders because they’re in there cheating. Yes, they do bring expertise, but they also do quite a lot of corruption. You can look at these very overpriced infrastructure projects like the Chinese-built railroad between Nairobi and Mombasa, which will never make back the money because there’s so much corruption embedded in that project. And so we know that this is happening. We do know that, I mean, there’s a fear, I won’t say that we know but China’s winning all these bids for safe cities and we see China using that same technology to block out its own population, to not allow them to have access to the internet. So when you see China acting in that fashion at home then you’re wondering about how can that same technology be used by African presidents or others who don’t want to lose elections or who don’t want to face their civil societies. And so, ’I want to have a rosy picture of the areas of competition, but we have to be clear about what the real challenges are that China’s bringing to the continent and all the opportunities as well and on those opportunities the United States simply needs to compete. And I’ll just finish by saying that the Biden administration is doing extremely well. I have to give them credit. President Biden gave a message of greeting to the AU during its recent summit. Blinken has called Prime Minister Abiy [Ahmed], the foreign minister of Nigeria, the foreign minister of Kenya. Vice President Harris has called Félix Tshisekedi, who’s now the head of the AU. So they’re engaging and they’re engaging early and that is absolutely critical for the United States raising its game in Africa and not spending too much time thinking about how it’s going to stop China from doing what China’s doing. We need to do what we do and do it better.
O’NEIL: Liz, unless you want to add, I’m going to go to the next question. Great. Next question, please.
STAFF: Our next question is a written submission from Mike Rosenberg with the University of Navarra’s business school. Directed to Dr. Cook, he asked, “You seem to imply that the Abraham Accords are the result of these countries moving on. Is that the case? Some would say it was Trump’s one success.”
COOK: So, yes, people do say that it was the president’s, the former president’s one success. It really was something that the United States came into at the very tail end of what was a multi-year process in which, particularly the United Arab Emirates and Israel, inched closer and closer and closer together. Everything from the Emiratis hosting Israeli athletes in multilateral games to there was essentially an Israeli embassy there. It was part of the UN, part of the International Energy Agency. Israeli cultural figures, for those of you who are Fauda watchers, Lior Raz showed up in Dubai and was mobbed by Emiratis because everybody was watching Fauda. And so there really was that in addition to the rather robust security cooperation between the two countries and a confluence of interests with regard to Iran and also Turkey, which has been throwing its weight around in the region quite a bit. So really what we have is two countries, then add Bahrain, which had a long-term Israeli embassy completely under wraps in its capital, Manama. And once the Emiratis and the Israelis came out into the open, the Bahrainis quickly followed, too. What happened was and why the Trump administration got so much credit was because the leaders of those countries wanted to give President Trump credit in case he won reelection and as is often the case with these types of agreements, they wanted the United States to seal the deal of the Abraham Accords with copious amounts of weapons, in which it did. The Israelis will get more on top of what they already get, and the Emiratis will get things like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a variety of other goodies that they have asked for. It was not something that the Trump administration was deeply, deeply involved in until the very end when it came to satisfying the wishes of the main players as they kind of flipped through the weaponry catalogs. I should say also that if you look at the history of peacemaking or normalization deals in the region, some of the big ones, Jordan, certainly the initial context between Egypt and Israel, these things happen not because of the United States, but despite the United States. And I will say things like Sudan, Morocco had a much more robust American role in it, but those are different kinds of agreements from what you see between the Emiratis and Israel and between the Bahrainis and Israel, which had been very warm. There’s real strategic reason for them and not something that the United States had to expend a lot of energy promoting.
O’NEIL: Let’s take the next question.
STAFF: We’ll take the next question from Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome.
Q: Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome and my question, I have a couple. You know, so the U.S. has experienced serious backsliding on democratic values and some of it is ongoing. So how does this affect the level of confidence with which it pushes democratic values in places where it finds it missing in the world? Then on vaccines, I really think that, yes, a lot of the strategies that were used after the activism on HIV/AIDS needs to be taken seriously. Making sure that there are generic versions of all these vaccines, especially for places where affordability is an issue. And then I agree with Jendayi that a PEPFAR-like initiative is necessary. But where are the allies that the U.S. is going to work on this? Is there going to be commitment on the part of the EU and other major actors in the world? Then on Yemen, doesn’t it make sense to kind of focus a lot on humanitarian assistance given the level of human suffering that’s happening there and also curtail Saudi aggression kind of more strongly than has happened? And on the U.S. and support for democratic values also, there’s Museveni in Uganda. There’s Kagame in Rwanda. There was Hosni Mubarak. So why is anybody going to believe that the U.S. doesn’t support dictators and this is what China does.
O’NEIL: I’m going to send the democratic backsliding question to Matthias because the Europeans think they’re all about democratic values. So how do these very provocative but justifiable questions relate to that and then if you want to throw in a word about European COVID diplomacy and if there’s a role there, let me know.
MATTHIJS: Yes, great questions. Thank you. I mean, there obviously is a division among analysts and foreign policymakers whether the U.S. should just not talk about this at all and just focus on rebuilding democracy at home and lead by example on this front, right? I mean, there’s all kinds of things that the Biden administration can do, right, from voting rights in the U.S. and all kinds of proposals that are in the pipeline. That said, it does seem to me that there’s a bit of a shift in this democratic administration continued from the Obama administration that they’re not actively going out there and promoting democracy in authoritarian regimes. So I mean, the goal is not to make sure China is democratic by 2030, right? I mean, it does seem to me, though, that they’re going to be much more defensive about democratic values in places that already are democratic and are experiencing some backsliding. Hungary and Poland are the obvious cases in Europe, but other parts of the world as well, right? I mean, Brazil, India, and so on, I think there’s going to be active engagement of these places and the U.S. is going to put forward this agenda. And that potentially is where the EU, the UK, and the U.S. will find each other, right? But I think Tony Blinken has said this very recently, I mean, the idea that they’re going to spend lots of treasure in going into countries and trying to impose or enforce democracy, I think that these are long gone. On COVID diplomacy, I mean, I trust you’ve all seen the news. If someone like Mario Draghi, the current prime minister of Italy, is willing to block exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia, of all places, then there’s something seriously wrong going on in Europe and there is’ a tremendous amount of domestic pressure here to deliver the vaccines. I mean, think about it, the UK has administered more vaccine shots than Spain, France, Germany and Italy together as of today, right? So that is, I think, where Europe will struggle because they were the first ones to oppose vaccine nationalism a few months ago and now they’re the first ones to reintroduce it. So I think they’re going to have a very hard time on this at least in the short term.
O’NEIL: Did you want to jump in on Yemen in like thirty seconds, Steven?
COOK: Sure, I’ll do Yemen in thirty seconds.
O’NEIL: Just thirty seconds. (Laughs)
COOK: I’ll just say that the Biden administration, one of the first things it did was delist the Houthis. Not because the Houthis are good people, they are, having met them, including people who U.S. officials are meeting right now, they are among the worst people in the Middle East and I’ve met some pretty terrible people in the Middle East. But we delisted them in order to ensure that more humanitarian assistance could get into Yemen. On Saudi aggression in Yemen, we’ve also put a hold on weaponry. That is a standard practice with the new administration. Those holds are often released, but I suspect those holds will not be released in the case of the Saudis. But if we really want the Saudis out of Yemen, we’re going to have to pay a certain price in getting them to declare victory and go home by providing them the means to secure their own border. This is not a conflict that began when the Saudis waltzed in there in 2015 and thought that they could finish up in a number of weeks. This is a conflict that has a logic of its own. It’s a civil war inside a civil war inside a conflict and with extremist groups, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in the cracks in between. So just getting the Saudis out of Yemen is not going to resolve the Yemen problem. But I certainly agree that them being in there has not—everything that they tried to achieve by going in has backfired and it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So they need to get out. They know they need to get out. It’s a question of how. And we are working on the humanitarian— even actors in the region are starting to put up serious dollars in order to relieve the humanitarian suffering in Yemen, which is a mess.
O’NEIL: Let’s take the next question.
FRAZER: Can I just say one thing? Quickly on the last one, the question was about the United States supporting authoritarian governments or dictators mentioning Kagame and Museveni. But the thing I would say that’s very different about the United States is that the United States is very actively supporting civil society. The United States very actively supports election freedom in terms of monitoring and supporting groups that do the monitoring. And when Bobi Wine is thrown in jail in Uganda, it is the U.S. ambassador who’s going and putting pressure on Museveni to actually let him out. And so we don’t want to go so far as to be engaged in regime change, but we definitely, I think, stand for democracy, which is why when you do surveys of the public in Africa, they like the United States more and that’s because we’re seen to be upholding those values of good governance and allowing for change of political parties through a fair process of elections. So I think we do okay on that front.
O’NEIL: Next question, please.
STAFF: Our next question is a written submission from Jim Harrington with Nashua Community College. And this question is directed to you, Dr. O’Neill. He asked, ““I would love to hear about Latin America with a division of that discussion into Cone, Andean, and Middle America.”“
O’NEIL: Thought I was going to get off easy this panel, but no. No, I’m kidding. Well, Latin America is also a place that has had significant changes in the last four years. And particularly this last year it has been the region of the world hit hardest by COVID. You know, less than 10 percent of the population, a third of all deaths from COVID, and also high numbers of cases. It is a region where it has been hit harder by a COVID-related recession. So you’ve seen the region, all across the whole region, down 8.5 percent, which is harder than anywhere else and obviously variation between countries. It’s also a region that has changed over the last four years in terms of democratic backsliding, in terms of the end or the erosion of anti-corruption crusades and campaigns. Just this last couple of weeks the Lava Jato campaign in Brazil, which was very successful, was shut down. We’ve seen a lot of anti-corruption bodies, for instance, one in Guatemala also shutter its doors over the last couple of years. So it is a place that rather than being at one time, with difficulties but promising and growing, a place where it’s now on the backfoot and a lot of the things that the United States was working with governments the last time Biden was in there. So I think as the new administration comes in and sort of sets its policies and puts forth its agenda, one of its big challenges is going to find reliable partners and those that want to work with it on these issues. A little bit with what Jendayi was saying about Africa is what the United States will find as it looks at its agenda is a pretty vibrant civil society in a lot of places that want to work together. In some places, a private sector that’s pretty engaged and also wants rule of law and transparency in some of these issues. Parts of the private sector, other parts probably less so depending on the various countries. But you’re going to see, I think, a Biden administration looking for different interlocutors than just the president in some of these countries and particularly in places where you have pretty unreliable federal governments. Places like Honduras where the president is currently, allegedly—is brother has been convicted in the United States of drug trafficking and there’s allegations against the president similarly for being part of that.
We’re going to see a very different foreign policy from the United States than we saw in the last four years. And so this will be a values-driven foreign policy, we’re going to see a return of focusing on democracy, focusing on transparency, on checks and balances, on freedom of the press, things like that. We’re going to see a return of the issues of corruption focused there and sort of helping and then the U.S. Department of Justice and others getting involved in that side. We will continue to see a focus on migration, but a focus on a humane way of doing that, whether it’s Central Americans who end up coming up to the United States or whether it’s Venezuelans who are living in Colombia and other parts and the U.S. reaching out on the humanitarian side. So I think we’ll see a very different—and we’re going to see clean energy and clean economies be a big focus. And so that will sit unevenly or poorly with some governments, like the Brazilian government or the Mexican government that aren’t so interested in those issues, but I think it’ll also be an opportunity in other countries, like Peru or Colombia or others that are actually focused on those, Chile as well. So I think there’s going to be areas for the U.S. government to work together with these other countries, but it’s going to be a really difficult next couple of years for the region as they try to recover from COVID. And there too, I think, COVID diplomacy, the kinds of things we’re talking about in Africa or that have been talked about in Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America will be a place where the U.S. when they start looking beyond their borders in terms of vaccine many of the countries to the south will be a focus. Let me turn to the next question.
STAFF: Our next and final question will come from Sonia Mehta and is a written submission. She writes, “I teach education and global perspective and this intersects with development and governance issues around the world, particularly in the Global South in relationship to the United States. We have seen the entire idea of democracy as a form of governance and as a moral argument for inclusion, progress, and so on. This is a question for the entire panel. How do you see education as organizations and education as the process of teaching and learning figure in your perspectives?
O’NEIL: Who wants to jump in first?
ECONOMY: I mean, it’s a really interesting question. I guess I would just say coming from the perspective of someone who studies China and looking what’s going on in Hong Kong right now, education is essential, right? It is the foundation of democracy, teaching values, supporting civil society engagement, basic civics classes. You’re not going—in Hong Kong, that’s going to be transformed. So there’s a real question looking ahead now. What will Hong Kong look like in twenty years without those kinds of fundamentals of the education that they’ve been getting? So, I think, you don’t have robust democracy, you don’t have a strong liberal international order unless you have a populace, a global populace, that has been educated, and lives in that kind of system.
COOK: Let me just pick this up in a slightly different way. One of the countries that I specialize in is Turkey. And the last four years have been rather extraordinary just as an American as well as someone who focuses on Turkey because I don’t know how many times I would be walking down the street in Washington, DC, and my phone would go off and it would be a news alert. It would be something that the U.S. government, the president of United States had done and I would look at it and I would say, “Wow, that’s really a lot like Turkey.” And yet, this was something that I think—and this is not a political statement, just an observation—that large numbers of Americans either didn’t care about, didn’t understand, or wholeheartedly support it. And I think that that speaks to how diminished public education, civics education, our understanding of the world, our understanding of ourselves, what American exceptionalism, alleged American exceptionalism, what our ideals and principles by which we like to believe we live, what those actually mean. I, in a longtime actually living in the Middle East—now pivoting from Turkey—people in the Arab world would often say to me how much they admired our institutions and the positive myths by which we live. Their objection was our conduct in the world. Over time, I’ve heard less and less and less of that. So I feel strongly, we need, just to pick up on something that Matthias said before, I’m of the school that we need to actually repair our institutions and inject them with meaning once again before we can go out in the world and tell people about things. I realized that our struggle is admirable, but we really do have to be struggling rather than backsliding. I’ll stop there.
MATTHIJS: One other quick point, Shannon, is where education will be important in addressing a kind of perennial problem in all democracies of widening inequality, right? I mean, anyone who studies kind of U.S. history at some point will learn that the great pride of American progress and social upward mobility was its public school system, right? And I think that’s one thing that the Biden administration has a huge job in repairing this and kind of addressing the inequities that have emerged over the years just by zip codes, and things like this. But it’s also true, I think, in Europe and other parts of the world, because in the end we know that the biggest driver of inequality is technological change. Little you can do about this, but what you can do something about is educate people and give them the tools to kind of deal with that change. And it doesn’t have to be liberal arts education, Yale University, per se, I mean, this could also be vocational training and much more technical training that I think some countries have been very good at and maybe others haven’t.
O’NEIL: Great. Well, we have many more questions and terrific ones that I can see in the Q&A that we could not get to but we’re hitting the end of our time. So thank you all for submitting them. And please, bring them back for the next time. But what I’m going to do first is thank you all. That was an incredibly impressive array of talent and answers and perspectives. And what I’m going to do after thanking you all, so thank you very much, is turn to Steven and, Steven, I’m going to let you talk about the International Affairs Fellowship. And hopefully some of those here on the line will want to come join us at CFR on the fellowship.
COOK: Great, thank you so much, Shannon, and thanks to all of you for staying on. In addition to being the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies, I’m also the director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars, which I realized is a mouthful and if someone could come up with a better name, I’d love it.
What the IAFTIRS does is it provides tenured faculty an opportunity to spend a sabbatical year working in the executive branch of the U.S. government on Capitol Hill, for the legislative branch, or in an international organization like the UN. It’s a wonderful opportunity for folks who are teaching about international relations, broadly defined. You don’t have to be a political scientist or historian. You don’t have to be teaching international relations, per se. But it’s a wonderful opportunity to come to Washington or go to someplace where a major international organization is located and get hands-on experience in the policymaking realm. The idea is that your expertise as faculty members would benefit the agency or the offices that you’re working for and you would gain some wisdom by working for them that you can take to your research or take to the classroom. Just some details. It’s a great deal. The Council will pick up half of your sabbatical salary and we’ll do our best to help you get placed in the place that you’d like to spend your sabbatical year. We’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in you can email me directly at [email protected] Or I encourage you to go take a look at the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars at CFR’s website. There’s a whole section on fellowships and we’re one of those tabs. So if you’re interested, or you know someone who’s interested, or you know someone who knows someone who might be interested, it would be great to hear from them. I’m available to answer questions. My assistant director is Devin Ferguson, who you can also find at CFR.org, is available to answer questions about the fellowship as well. That’s really all that I have on it. Again, I welcome those who are interested in it and I will be happy to hand it back to Shannon to close this out. Thanks so much.
FASKIANOS: Thank you. Welcome, everybody, back to day two of the College and University Educators Workshop. It’s wonderful to connect with you all again today even if only virtually. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. We have a full day planned for you. We will begin with a conversation on the future of work, which is integral to CFR’s Renewing America series, a major initiative at CFR looking at how to tackle the major economic challenges facing the United States. I am pleased to introduce my colleague, Edward Alden, who will moderate our distinguished panel. Ted Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at CFR and is the Ross distinguished visiting professor at Western Washington University. Formerly the Washington bureau chief for the Financial Times, he’s authored several books, including the Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy. And he has served as a project director of two CFR-sponsored Independent Task Forces on immigration and on the future of work. Both of these reports you can find on our website, CFR.org, so go there to look them up. So without further ado, let me turn it over to my good friend and colleague, Ted Alden.
ALDEN: Thank you very much, Irina. It’s wonderful to be with you all today, and I’m especially delighted to be joined by Shelly Steward, Kian Gohar, and Susan Lund for this conversation. I’ll just give a brief introduction. Their full bios are in your material.
Shelly is the director of the Future of Work Initiative at the Aspen Institute, which does tremendous work on this whole range of subjects. Her work focuses on nonstandard workplace benefits and protections and the gig economy. As I said, Aspen does some of the best work out there on this entire range of issues. And I’m pleased to say that Shelly is a Berkeley grad like me, though, unlike me, she managed to finish her PhD.
Kian is founder and CEO of Geolab, an innovation advisory firm based in Los Angeles that helps organizations solve complex problems. He was an executive director at the XPRIZE Foundation, which is a technology nonprofit dedicated to solving global grand challenges through incentive competitions. He has a forthcoming book titled Competing in a New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest, which is going to be published by Harvard Business School Press. He holds an MBA from Harvard.
And then Susan is a partner at McKinsey and Company, leader of the McKinsey Global Institute. Her research focuses on globalization and trade and the impact of technology on work and workers. She is the author of too many groundbreaking studies on these topics to even try to name, but I would direct you all to her most recent which is titled “The Future of Work After COVID-19” and is among the materials we have shared for this session today. I like Susan’s work enough that I’m going to forgive her for being a Stanford grad. The full bios, as I said, of our speakers are in your material.
So Susan, let me start with you because the timing is perfect given the work you’ve been doing. You and Kian and I all worked together on the Council on Foreign Relations’ future of work task force, which was just a delightful experience for me. We focused heavily on issues like the impact of automation in the workplace. But we’ve now all lived for the past year through the pandemic, which has been a great disrupter to work across the country and has changed, I think, some of the assessments about where we are headed. So please start us off by telling us about some of the major findings of your new research. And thank you all again for being here. So Susan, over to you.
LUND: Thanks for having me. So I think the world does look very different than when we did that task force a few years ago. COVID has accelerated some of the trends we talked about, but it’s created some entirely new dynamics. So I’ll focus on three. So one entirely new thing is the fact that we’re all interacting over video conference. So remote work or partial work-from-home models are here to stay. Most companies are realizing that there will be some people who want to come into the office every day, and there may be a minority that work permanently from home, depending on their role. But for the vast majority, companies are now thinking about some kind of hybrid model where you come to the office a few days, you work from home a few days. When you’re in the office that means you’re doing very collaborative things like coaching and mentoring, bringing new people on board, brainstorming, doing innovation. If you’re just sitting at your computer, you can do that from anywhere, anytime. That then opens up the aperture for how you even think about recruiting talent. If you can work from anywhere, that has implications for geography.
I think a second big finding that we had is that a lot of the changes, for instance, a shift to telemedicine to e-commerce to the delivery economy is really hastening a decline or a lot of frontline low-wage service sector jobs in food service, in retail, in hotels, and in other entertainment venues. And traditionally, in the past, for the last twenty years, we saw lots of growth in high-wage jobs. We saw automation take away a lot of middle-wage jobs and manufacturing and office work. And then we saw growth in these low-wage service jobs. That dynamic could be different going forward. And a lot of those low-wage jobs may not grow or even decline over the next ten years. And so this just increases the importance of people having some kind of skill or credential to remain employed.
And then the third big shift, I think, is what skills do people need. So even more than before, we see that activities and tasks that require just basic literacy, numeracy, or data entry skills are being automated. Importantly, this time around, we find that demand overall for a bucket of skills that we call higher cognitive skills is actually declining and that’s because some of the higher cognitive skills like quantitative and statistical work—so think about the finance and accounting programs, a lot of the entry-level finance and accounting positions—can be automated through robotic process automation. I hate to say it, Ted, but advanced literacy skills are in less decline. All those first-year law associates that were poring over case documents—that can be done by AI machines and they can even summarize what they’ve read to a decent degree.
So what skills are in demand? Well, it’s things machines don’t do particularly well. So socio and emotional skills, that killer salesperson is always going to be in demand, the teacher, mentor, coach, somebody who works well with others, and of course, technology skills. So everybody’s got to be able to use technology in their job, and we just have increasing demand across the economy for the creators, deployers, and maintainers of this technology.
ALDEN: Thank you very much, Susan. That’s a fabulous overview. And I suspect in the questions that have been in our conversation we’ll get back a lot to the, you know, what this means for educators in education. Kian, I want to turn to you, you have been conducting a series of interviews, quite a few, in fact, I think, with companies for your forthcoming book, looking at those that are adapting well to this new world and maybe the companies that are not adapting so well. What have you learned so far? Tell us a little bit about your insights as a result of talking to corporate leaders and others.
GOHAR: Thanks, Ted, for that. And it’s great to be here with you guys today, especially with Susan back after a couple years on the task force. Over the last, let’s say, ten months, we’ve done an extensive research project with Harvard to better understand what were the key skills that allowed executives who thrived in the pandemic to be able to succeed and what were those skills so that that could be replicated in the future. We’ve spoken to about two thousand different executives from all across the industrial spectrum, from large companies, to smaller companies, to entrepreneurs, to all kinds of executives to better understand what were the skills that allow them to really thrive and succeed. And we’ve actually been able to whittle it down to four key characteristics that I think is not rocket science or earth-shatteringly eye-opening, but it just reinforces these key findings that we had from the task force three years ago.
These four skills are, one, foresight. The second one is agility. The third one is inclusion. And the fourth one is resilience. We know that the future is going to be radically uncertain, and we don’t know what it’s going to provide or predict. And so in a rapidly accelerating world of technology and uncertainty, how do you develop the kinds of skill sets within your leaders to be able to do anything that the world throws at you? And so these four skills, the first one, foresight, how do you look around corners? What are the skills that leaders deploy to be able to see the trends that allow them to act in advance of when they actually happen? The second one is agility. I think the world of 360-degree annual performance reviews and long-term planning really has gone out the door, because the world is so uncertain. So how do you run your projects? How do you run your teams now in a very agile way in sprint formats to be able to do things very quickly? The third one is inclusion. And by inclusion, we mean a very broad definition of it. How do you collaborate with people inside the organization, outside the organization, bring them in through your stakeholder conversations, to be able to ideate and figure out solutions to solve problems collaboratively. This inclusion has been really critical over the last year as many people didn’t know how to deal with the many various things that happened in the pandemic. So they’ really crowdsourced a lot of these ideas and solutions through their internal teams. And the fourth one is resilience. How do you think about having a team that has the energy to be able to bounce back from any adversity that throws a stone at you? Having that kind of energy is really critical.
So these are the kind of four skills that any leader that has succeeded over the last year and has had outsized performance in their business, we’ve identified as sort of the skip the skills that need to be developed going forward. At the same time, we’ve also seen companies really think about redesigning their workforce dramatically. Many of the things that Susan talked about, in terms of automation and employment, we’ve identified six different decision dials that companies are deciding now—how do they think about their workforce, which they’re redesigning right now as we speak. The first one is along the spectrum of automation. Does the work have to get done by humans or by an algorithm? The second one is by employment. Does it have to be done by a full-time employment or does it have to be done by gig workers? The third one is looking at the world of environments. Is this done in an open ecosystem? For example, are you doing synchronous work that requires you to collaborate together or is this asynchronous work that really requires you to focus on the closed environments? The fourth decision dial is ecosystem. Are you doing the work internally or are you using your vendors to get your work done? The fifth one is presence. Are you working in the office or are you working hybrid? Are you working fully remote? And the last decision dial is does this work even have to be done here in the United States or can it be offshored or nearshored? So companies are radically redesigning their workforces, as we speak. We’re not going to see the full brunt of this until over the next twelve to eighteen months. And I think by then we’re going to see a radically different ecosystem for work than we’ve had over the last decade or so.
ALDEN: That is absolutely fascinating, Kian, and I think every one of us on the call would be happy if we never heard the word synchronous and asynchronous again. Every professor: “Are you going to teach your class synchronous or asynchronous this semester? No, I want to teach it in person.” Can I push you, because there’s a whole rich menu here but just one thing that, excuse me, your very first comment about foresight. Can you teach that? I mean, we often think of that as sort of, you know, experience or gut instinct or whatever. I mean, let’s just focus on that one piece, because there’s a lot of it. But can you teach foresight?
GOHAR: Yes, absolutely. So I’m actually a graduate of the University of Houston’s Foresight program. They have a fantastic foresight degree and Future Studies program, which teaches the skills of foresight. Foresight really is just three skills that you have to identify, and you can do this at any organizational level, whether you’re corporate or educational or nonprofit. One is how do you actually detect the various risks that are posed to your business whether in the short term or the long term? So what kind of detection process do you have to see the early signals of change? The second one is assessment. How do you assess whether these signals are high risk to you or low risk to you? So we suggest actually developing a risk radar that your organization can decide. Well, this particular early signal is really far away, but it’s really important so I got to focus on it. Or this particular risk signal is short term and not very important, so I don’t need to think about it. And the third thing is how do you actually act. So, many companies think about doing scenario planning for future scenarios where the future is uncertain and has not been developed yet. So how do you think about what kind of scenario plans can you develop in the event that this uncertain future does come to fruition? From our experience, only about 25 percent of the Fortune 500 is now actually practicing foresight within their leadership competency. It’s done in different kinds of language. For example, it’s called strategy in some places, other things in other places, but it’s not being done well enough. And that’s why I think so many companies and organizations are caught flat-footed by the pandemic. There were organizations that we studied over the last year who were not caught flat-footed. They were prepared, and they knew exactly what to do. And as a result, they’ve had a tremendously successful 2020, and they’ve deployed foresight as one of their key skills.
ALDEN: Thank you. Thank you very much. My erstwhile office mate at CFR, Paul Stares, runs the Center for Preventive Action, which is actually a foresight exercise. What are the conflicts that are most likely over the next year and what kind of planning can we do to try to prevent or mitigate those?
Shelly, I want to turn to you. The pandemic, as we all know, has shed incredible light on the enormous inequities in the workplace. You have done a lot of great work on the holes in the social safety net for workers and especially for part-time and temporary workers. Talk to us about some of the big issues here, and what we’ve learned as a result of the pandemic and the shutdown.
STEWARD: Yes, definitely. So, you know, the impacts of the pandemic have not been felt equally, and in a lot of ways they’ve shown everyone just how unequal all aspects of our labor market really are. And one that stands out the most is the safety net across the country and how it has been really a house of cards that for a huge number of people in the country over the last year has really fallen apart. We live in a country where health care is tied to employment that also does not mandate paid sick leave. So in the context of a national public health emergency, this puts a lot of people in a position of choosing between keeping their families and communities safe from a virus or being able to stay housed with food and shelter. And that’s, you know, that is not a reasonable choice to have to make.
When we look at both the economic impacts and the health disparities, these are drastically divided by race with especially Black and Latinx Americans facing much higher rates of infection, much higher morbidity rates once infected, much higher rates of unemployment, and much lower wages for those who do stay employed. What we’ve seen also is, you know, growing awareness of what has long been the case, which is there are not enough quality jobs in this country. Skills are important. It is important to equip people with skills for the future, but those skills are only effective if they can be put into place in jobs that pay well and that provide decent benefits. We have 42 percent of the workforce making less than 15 dollars an hour with the rates for Black and Latinx women are twice as high as those for white men. That’s the case before the pandemic. It’s been the case through the pandemic and without some real changes, it’s likely to be the case moving forward.
ALDEN: Do you—I mean, just to follow up on Susan’s point. I mean, do you see any evidence that the pandemic could have a silver lining in terms of eliminating some of the lower-paying jobs and in effect forcing people up? Or are we just going to replace those with other kinds of low-paying jobs? Think, you know, rather than doing retail work, you’re going to go work at an Amazon warehouse, which is a sort of different—any sense of what the pandemic effect is on low-wage work generally?
STEWARD: Yes, well, you know, the fastest growing occupation by number of available jobs is home health-care aides. That’s a job that’s not automatable. That’s a job that makes a median of twenty-five thousand dollars a year. That’s a job that has remained critically important during the pandemic. You know, we see a lot, we see low-wage service and hospitality jobs eliminated during the pandemic. We’ll see the extent to which those return, but we see a lot of frontline essential workers who were critically important during the pandemic who had to continue going to work. We’ve seen increasing conversation about the need to raise the quality of those jobs to get a fifteen dollar-an-hour minimum wage, to increase benefits and protections, to promote unionization. Hopefully those conversations will lead to real action and can improve the quality of those jobs, but many of them are here to stay and are critically important to our economy.
ALDEN: Excellent. Shelly, I’m going to keep you for one more minute here, shift the conversation a little bit from the discussion of trends and problems towards, you know, potential future solutions. The California Future of Work Commission, you brought this to our attention in the prep call, just released a big report Tuesday calling for a new social compact among workers, business, and government. Is that the right framework, were you pleased by those recommendations? Talk to us a little bit about where they’re thinking about going in the great state of California.
STEWARD: Yeah, I was very pleased to see the report. James Manyika of McKinsey was one of the co-chairs, along with Mary Kay Henry of SEIU, and, you know, workers were at the front and center of their entire process and of the recommendations, which really centered job quality and center equity as priorities. As we face increasing globalization, rapid automation, these kind of flashy topics that are often talked about, you know, they are happening in the context of drastic, drastic inequality that has characterized our labor market for centuries. They’re in the context of a very bifurcated labor market with low-wage, little opportunity-for-advancement careers as the norm for too many households. And, you know, it takes those as the focus of what needs to change. We need to focus on equity. We need to focus on job quality and that will prepare us to thrive no matter what automation does and no matter what globalization does.
ALDEN: Thank you very much. I remember a few years ago having a long conversation with Nora Todd, who was working for Senator Sherrod Brown at the time, and she’s now the chief of staff of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. And, you know, I was talking all about skills development and what people need to get the good jobs, and she was very much making the argument—well, there are a lot of jobs out there that just aren’t good jobs. And unless we raise those up, we’re not going to really tackle the core of the problem. So that was an enlightening conversation for me.
Susan and Kian, we have a big audience of influential educators here today. I’m teaching as well, having a lot of fun with it out here and on the West Coast of Western Washington University. From your work, what should all of us and others, you know, who are in the education field be doing to better prepare our students for this changing world? Susan, why don’t we start with you?
LUND: Well, I think that educators are an important part of the puzzle. I do agree with Shelley that there are a lot of jobs that are sort of dead-end and low wage. And the key to success over the next decade for this country is going to be to make sure that people get onto an upward career trajectory. So get a job, that’s the first rung in the ladder, whether it’s in health care, in sales, in other fields. And here, I think, educators obviously have an important role to play both in teaching university students. But I think the key will be to really expand your offerings. There are a lot of people mid-career that are not going to be able to go back to school for two years or four years to get a degree. So the question is, how can you have short-term credentialing programs that give people just the basic skills needed, for instance, to become a certified nurse assistant, which is the first rung in the nursing ladder, or, you know, an IT call-center person, which is one of the ways into a digital career. So I think expanding the availability and working with companies. So there are many large employers like Walmart that now have partnerships with, I’m going to say, up to a dozen universities to provide their workforce access to online programs to earn degrees. So I think that being part of this business ecosystem is important as well. And then the final thing I’ll say is, I think, Kian and I both talked about like what skills do students need. And I just can’t emphasize enough, I think what people now call STEAM—so it’s STEM, having that digital-math-scientific bent, but adding in an arts component—that duality of having both the socio-emotional skills but the technological literacy is just incredibly important.
ALDEN: And thank you, Susan. I will say I was very troubled by a piece in The New York Times this morning about declining community college enrollment. So Eduardo Padrón of Miami Dade played a big role in our task force, and the community colleges are so critical here. The article kind of went back and forth between the declining enrollment and what employers are saying, “We’re not able to get people for a lot of these new emerging fields,” you know, cybersecurity, a whole lot of repair and maintenance work, you know, and, you know, nursing, and on down the line. There are a lot of jobs that employers are worried they’re just not going to have the people for, because we’re seeing this big decline in community college enrollment.
LUND: Well this comes down to the funding model that the reason enrollment is declining is because education is very expensive, and students don’t want to take out the debt or can’t afford to if they’re uncertain about employment. So it really does come down to what does education cost. Who should be funding it? And how can we expand funding for, like I said, degrees that don’t take a matter of years but even short term. Even when you think about our unemployment insurance, like we pay people when they’re fired from a job; we support their income. But what about somebody who voluntarily wants to go back and take a three-month course to get a certificate in cybersecurity? Like, should we be supporting incomes in that case?
ALDEN: Okay, great question. Kian, same question, what should we be teaching our students? How do you prepare them for this world?
GOHAR: Ah, that’s a great question. I was in a conversation last night on the history club —at Clubhouse—fascinating conversation around why history matters and why we should think about it today. And I think as educators, um, I would ask everybody to ask themselves this question: Why is what I’m teaching matters? Why does it matter to my students? And how can that help them develop a skill set that will help them develop better in the future, as future leaders, as future citizens?
Obviously, many of the subjects that we teach are all important; they’re all important. But as educators, can we go one step further and say, let me connect why what we’re learning now and why it matters and how you can translate this into a practical skill set for the future. I think that would do a tremendous amount to help people be interested in some of the technologies, some of the subjects that we talked about, and then translate that to why it matters to them. So that’s one thing I would say to educators.
When I teach, I always ask, why does this matter? Why should they be listening to me? How can my listener, and my audience, my students think about what they can do to make their life better with this knowledge? That’s the one thing I’d say. The second thing I’d like to just piggyback off what Shelly said earlier. I think, it’s really tremendously important to think about the individuals who are disadvantaged in this economy because of the digital divide because of not access to education. So I was for many years an executive director at the XPRIZE Foundation, where we design competitions to try to solve real grand challenges for the world. These are oftentimes multimillion dollar, multiyear competitions. Last year in response to COVID in April of 2020, we designed a brand-new competition called the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling competition, which is a five-million competition that will last thirty months. And the idea is to accelerate the development of new technologies or new platforms that will allow disadvantaged citizens in this country to be able to be reskilled within a sixty-day timeframe at no cost to them and be able to do that in a much more fast way than what is traditionally possible now. And then once they are able to do that as a prototype, then the winning team has to scale that to five thousand individuals across five different state workforce boards. What we’re trying to do here is to incentivize the development of training programs that make it free or almost no cost for disadvantaged Americans to be able to train for jobs in the future within sixty days or less. I think it’s really critical to shorten this timeframe between the needs that people have now for job and work and being able to actually provide that access.
ALDEN: And that’s really powerful, Kian. I think it does speak to the need to really rethink some of our models. I mean, Susan was talking about these, you know, short-term credentials, and you’re talking here about a technological approach that maybe shortens that even further and makes it accessible to everyone across the country. So, I really agree. I think the need for creativity here is enormous. Thank you for leading that initiative. This wouldn’t be a Council on Foreign Relations meeting without some discussion of what’s going on in the other Washington, Washington, DC, and the new administration. Maybe Shelly, I’ll start with you and then Susan and Kian, if you want to weigh in. What do you think should be the priorities on these issues for the new administration and Congress? Shelly, why don’t you kick us off here.
STEWARD: Sure, is it okay if I jump back one second? Because I actually—
ALDEN: You can jump back anywhere you want. And let me just actually, let me just remind everybody who’s in, we’re going to turn to questions in about six minutes here. So begin thinking about what you want to ask. Shelly, go ahead, please.
STEWARD: Yes, just on the note of kind of how higher educators can, you know, prepare their students for the future, um you know, the chance of low-wage employment for a young person goes down percent if they have a college degree. It goes down percent if they join a union, and there is a real lack of understanding and information across workers, all types, all wage levels, about what their rights are and how to go about organizing. And if that can be a part of conversations early on, it really equips students to do well and have rights as workers no matter what field they work in. Yes, but—
ALDEN: Well, I mean, maybe, you know, maybe you can take that as your lead-off. I mean, the Democrats have wanted for many years now to make it easier for unions to organize and form. Is that part of the agenda? Should it be part of the agenda? Is it going to get anywhere?
STEWARD: We will see. You know, we’re at a very unique time in history where we have these sort of tiered priorities that all have to be attacked at the same time. We are very much in the middle of a devastating pandemic, and we need the relief that allows people to stay home, that allows people to stay housed, stay safe as we live through this. You know, we’re on the upswing with vaccines becoming more available. I remain optimistic, you know, but we’re not out yet. And we need policy priorities that allow a full and equitable recovery from a public health standpoint before we can start to think about really getting the economy where it needs to be—providing a good job to everyone. You know, that set of priorities, the current administration does have some real priorities there that are good to see that the PRO Act, for example, which really does boost unionization.
ALDEN: I’m sorry, can you explain that just quickly what that would do?
STEWARD: Yes, so it’s a kind of a suite of legislation focused on job quality and workers’ rights that would include raising the minimum wage, that would include reducing some of the various unionization, and addressing some of the classification issues, especially surrounding gig work.
ALDEN: Yeah, so and this is the issue of workers being classified as contract and temporary workers and therefore not getting benefits from their companies, because they’re classified that way.
STEWARD: And then with those two as priorities, we also need to really think about workforce development and training and what we’re going to do to keep a resilient economy moving forward. You know, we have seen in the last year just what a devastating impact an unforeseen event can have. And we are likely to face other unforeseen events in the future. And we need a resilient system that can weather those storms, potentially, literally, in the case of climate change, and make sure that workers thrive no matter what happens. And that’s an area where I hope to see more attention in the policy priorities, especially coming out of the pandemic and looking to what’s next.
ALDEN: Thank you very much, Shelly. Susan, same question. You know, you got the ear of the president, and there are a lot of things out there. What would your priorities be?
LUND: I think a couple things. So, first of all, closing the digital divide. So much of this recovery and pandemic is hinged on people being able to interact digitally. And we still have a large number of Americans who either literally don’t have access to broadband or can’t afford it. And this is now just a fundamental right, like electricity and running water. Access to broadband is a big part. And this is part of the reason I think you’re seeing declining community college enrollment. If classes are virtual, a lot of low income students don’t have the ability to do online learning. We’re seeing that in primary and secondary school as well. So that’s number one.
Number two, I do come back to this point that we need to think beyond K through 12. We have this mantra that everyone has a universal right to K through 12. But it’s got to be beyond 12. You’ve got to have some kind of access to either an apprenticeship, a vocational program, technical program, and of course, higher education, an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. Shelly points out, despite all we talked about, you know, graduates who can’t get jobs, it’s like there is still a wage premium to somebody who has a bachelor’s degree. So making, but I think expanding that aperture. Back when I was a kid, a million years ago, there were actually vocational programs in high schools. And there were a lot of programs with equity and how kids were tracked. But I think bringing back some of that. So for instance, IBM has set up a series of magnet schools called P-TECH where students earn a four-year high school degree and a two-year associate’s degree in six years. So it’s a combined program. And this makes sure that when they leave that educational setting, they can actually get a job. So I think there’s just a lot of different ideas.
The U.S. is great at innovation. We’ve got examples across the country of different types of short-term programs. We’ve got Kian’s technological solutions coming. We’ve got lots of different examples. But now the priority is, how do you actually scale those up to reach millions of people?
ALDEN: Fabulous. Thank you, Susan. I think your line on broadband being the electricity and clean water of the twenty-first century is a great takeaway. Kian, you’ve got one minute here. So, before we move to questions, so what would you tell the president and Congress ought to be at the top of their list?
GOHAR: Well, I’m a proud graduate of the vocational programs in high school that Susan speaks out in banking. So I 100 percent agree on that kind of workforce model from high school direct to jobs that are high value and provide a living wage. So really valuable.
I’d say two things. One is this never-ending conversation we’ve had around portability of benefits. Right now, we are so stuck to a particular job. And when we saw this last year that if you lost your job, then you have to fight for benefits, whether it’s unemployment benefits or health benefits. And I really, desperately think that this country needs to think about developing an additional form of benefit model that allows individuals who don’t fit into the traditional employment model to have a system of benefits that allows them to survive and thrive in this rapidly changing world. And the second thing I would love this administration to think about is we’ve talked about universal basic income and that is really valuable. I would love to see a UBI for entrepreneurs, to help them take away some of the basic cost of living so that they can actually start creating the jobs that we need in this country to continue the cycle of innovation.
ALDEN: Okay, the three of you have really reminded me why it was so much fun and fascinating to work on this set of issues on the task force. At this time, I would like to invite educators to join in our conversation with their questions. We will do our best to get to as many as possible. Veronica, would you please give everyone construction—constructions? So yes, that’s where my head is at that. Okay. So, Veronica, would you please now give instructions on how everyone can join the question queue.
STAFF: We will take the first written submission from David Shirk of the University of San Diego: “Do we need to rethink and reemphasize the very need for higher education? There are many good paying, non-exportable jobs that require skills that don’t require a college degree. If we don’t provide higher level interdisciplinary education for a general population about history, the arts, biology and the social sciences, it seems like that would lead to major social and political problems in a democratic society.”
ALDEN: Thank you for that question, David. And I was remembering the time we appeared together on the committee in front of John McCain. There’s a hilarious clip out of that I showed to my students sometimes, so it’s great to hear from you. Who wants to tackle that one first? Susan, go ahead, please.
LUND: Look, I think it’s a big tent. There’s room for everyone. I think the point is very well taken that there are many very good jobs that are high paying that you don’t need formal education and certainly not a college degree for. Um, you can be a part, you know, welders on an oil rig can make $150,000. Seventy-five percent of the store managers in Walmart started out as the hourly sales associate, and those, again, are a hundred-plus-thousand-dollar-a-year job. So there are many good opportunities, and we need to highlight those. At the same time, though, I think there are people who want to go to college who should and as you point out, that there’s value to critical thinking and diverse types of learning. I took several classes, like one devoted to studying Dante’s Divine Comedy. [Laughs] An entire semester on the Divine Comedy and I look back and I laugh, but it’s one of the things I remember most about college despite all my economics classes. So you don’t know how different types of learning are going to shape somebody’s thinking going forward. So there’s certainly room also, I think, for the liberal arts broader education.
ALDEN: Kian or Shelley, I mean, I think, you know, that’s one of the real challenges here is there’s a lot of value to a broad education. But people also need particular skills that, you know, I remember when we worked on our task force, very interesting burning glass studies showing that if you take someone with a liberal education, and give them, you know, an additional technical skill, say coding or, you know, ability to use Excel spreadsheets, that their employability goes way up. And the general education is very valuable for all the reasons Susan has talked about but having some of those skills as well, very valuable. Shelly, Kian, do you want to add to this at all?
STEWARD: I’d just briefly say, you know, college education needs to be more accessible and less necessary for everyone in the country. We’re at a point where it’s increasingly this baseline requirement that if you lack the degree, your options are very limited. But if you get the degree often going into high, high levels of debt to do so, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good job. And that is a problem and presents challenges for lots of people and especially people from low-income families who are disproportionately people of color. And so you know, that is a problem that we need to address.
ALDEN: Thank you very much. Let’s go to the next question, Veronica.
STAFF: We will take the next question from Sherice Janaye Nelson at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Please unmute yourself and state your question.
Q: Good afternoon, everyone. My question really is to this understanding of funneling students from the from high school into the trade schools or into higher education. We know that some level of training is necessary. But what we know historically is that oftentimes children of color, particularly Black children, were steered towards trade jobs and not steered towards college. And so the question that I have is, as we’re rethinking this whole workforce idea and what does it mean, how do we put in provisions to ensure that students who actually are prepared to go to college are going to college versus them being assessed based upon their skin color and what we think their abilities are based upon those traits?
ALDEN: Kian, would you be willing to feel that one first, because I think part of what you’re thinking about here is more creative ways so that we’re not locked into this sort of tracking discussion—that it’s a one or the other—and I’d like to hear from the other two as well, but maybe I’ll start off with you, Kian.
GOHAR: Absolutely. Like there’s no one-size-fits-all policy for education. And I think college education gives a lot of skills. Unfortunately, I think it also is a filter for a lot of companies to think about whether they should just hire somebody or not because there’s so many applicants. And so that then creates a challenge when the top of the funnel isn’t diverse enough and large enough to include people from different backgrounds. I think there’s many different ways of education. And, um, you know, I think, as we think about how do we get people skilled so that they can get access to jobs that are good and that are well paying and that are in growth industries. And I think it’s just really important that we think about this in a very diverse way from different angles, from different communities, from different ways of thinking.
I don’t think everybody should go to college. I think community college is a great platform that gives people a lot of skills. It’s something that this administration, I think, is committed, especially with the first lady and her experience as a community college professor. And I think they valued that access to education that community college provides for all different kinds of people. I do think that one of the things that is going to be so critical for the future is that we develop our citizenry to have clear communication capabilities. We are rapidly, rapidly, rapidly moving into a world where robots are not replacing our jobs, but they are helping us do our work. Instead of robots, a lot of people are now calling them cobots; they’re collaborative robots. And you actually need individuals in these jobs to be able to collaborate with this autonomous technology and then translate that back into human speak. And that actually requires really good communication skills. So as much as we as educators can do to help our students develop written communication skills, presentation skills, verbal skills, I think it’s just so, so critical that it will allow them to succeed in the future. And I’m sorry, I don’t think I answered the question well enough. I’d be happy to take another stab at it.
ALDEN: Let me, no, I mean, let me actually go to Shelly and Susan as well, because, I mean, I think it’s a really important question is how do we try to ensure that as we’re addressing some of these concerns, we don’t actually worsen the inequities in the system rather than mitigating them? Shelly, Susan, anybody want to kick in first on that?
LUND: I mean, I would say it’s about personal choice but information. So I look at my children who went through public high school. And there were no discussions about careers, alternative career paths, how do you get there. There was sort of an assumption—either you apply to college or you don’t. And if you don’t, then good luck to you figuring out, you know, what you’re going to do. I just think there’s a whole wealth of information out there. I know that companies in manufacturing always talk about how they struggle to attract young people, because they’re thinking about, like, factories a hundred years ago, right? And they don’t even understand what a factory looks like. You’re actually working on a computer running the robot making the thing, right? And so I think that there’s got to be a lot more just discussion about different careers and opportunities and how you get them. And certainly in our digital age, this should be able to be facilitated. But this way, it’s not up to a teacher or somebody else making a decision. It’s letting students self-select into what are all the options out there.
ALDEN: Thank you. Shelly, I’m not going to let all of you respond to every question. But I think this is a particularly important one. Shelly, do you want to weigh in as well?
STEWARD: Sure. I think it’s fundamental no matter what sort of program or policy we’re thinking about implementing that it’s done in the context of the systemic racism across all systems that we are operating in, whether that’s education, higher education, community colleges, workforce, labor market, and that that is front and center in how we design policies and how we impact what they’re actually doing and what their impact is and that we collect demographic information that we need to assess—are these improving or exacerbating our current inequities?
ALDEN: Yeah, I’m, you know, I’m hopeful about this administration. Cecilia Rouse, who was a CFR Task Force colleague of ours from Princeton is now the first African American to chair the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. She’s the first labor market economist to hold that position. She’s going to have a real impact. Another colleague of ours, Chike Aguh, is the first chief innovation officer at the Department of Labor where he’s going to be dealing with exactly these sorts of questions. So I’m optimistic this is going to get serious treatment by this administration. Veronica, let’s go to the next question.
STAFF: We will take the next written submission from Stephen Jones of Georgia Gwinnett College. This question is directed to Dr. Lund: “The McKinsey report identifies educator and workforce training as one of the fields likely to decline by 2030. What are the reasons for this predicted decline?”
LUND: Well, so part of this is just the demographics of the country. We’re getting older. We’re having fewer children, and so the need for some of the early education is going down because of demographics. But that said, I would say that, as we’ve been talking about post-secondary education, if anything, we need more of it in mid-career opportunities. So, there was a question earlier about lifelong learning, but it’s something that’s been a little bit of a cliché and a mantra. But I think we really need to think about how to make that happen. I know that there are some universities, for instance, like Michigan’s Ross School of Business has now said all MBA graduates can go back throughout their life for continuing education. So, opening up the aperture on lifelong learning, I think, is also going to be quite important.
ALDEN: Excellent, thanks. Thanks very much. Veronica, next question, please.
STAFF: We’ll take the next question from Amarilis Lugo de Fabritz at Howard University. Please unmute yourself and state your question.
Q: Hi. Thank you for such an interesting talk on a Friday. This is amazing. So my question has to do with exacerbation of regional inequalities when it comes to job preparation. I teach at Howard. I’m in the DC area; my children go to Montgomery County public schools. If you’re in high school, you can go part-time to the high school, get your core of basic there, and still get what you want. You can get a full building certification. You can walk away with your plumbing card. If not, if you’re low income, you get a state scholarship for community college. And Gaithersburg Montgomery College will give you a full NSA hooked-up, cybersecurity thing, right? Meantime, my family, my in-laws live in Iowa, right? And when we go we stopped by the John Deere pavilion, because it’s an interesting [inaudible] museum. It scares me. One of those combines with a GPS can now take care of about a thousand acres. It takes two people, basically, to take care of a thousand-acre farm. Meantime, I’m looking sort of at Iowa and less investment in education, less investment in the union jobs, right? So I’m looking sort of at my nieces there, and the whole idea of them going into sort of the traditional, rural agrarian, um, that’s just not going to happen. In the meantime, do they have the infrastructure to land in a diversified economy? No. So sort of what’s really scaring me is this bifurcation of—they call it coastal elites. But at the same time, if you look for diverse economies that will support this diversity of jobs to create economies that will have good jobs, both for those who work—
ALDEN: Could we finish it off with a question? These are a lot of good observations, but do you have a specific question?
Q: Yeah, sort of, do you see this regional balance getting better, or worse?
ALDEN: Let me let me actually throw this to Susan, because one of the things that I really glommed on from her recent report was some of the information on the potential impact of the pandemic on the geography of jobs. So Susan, maybe I’ll let you start with that and if the others have comments as well.
LUND: Yes, I think that that was a good observation, though, about just the inequality of opportunity that the fact that education is so locally driven has benefits, but it also means that there are staggering inequalities depending on where you happen to be born and grow up in terms of the opportunities you’re presented with. But one of the things I think that COVID could change—and I think it’s too early to say because we’re still in lockdown mode—but one of the trends we saw before the pandemic was that all the jobs and all the people were going to twenty-five top U.S. cities, and you know the ones, it’s Denver and Austin and New York and LA and so on. And then the rest of the country was sort of either treading water or falling behind. Now with the remote work and work from anywhere, um, there are companies, tech companies, for instance, saying employees can work from anywhere. There are lots of other companies, not tech, but in pharmaceuticals saying, well, maybe we should open up satellite offices in different places. So there’s some potential, I think, going forward that now that we’ve broken down this idea that people must be at their desk five days a week from nine to five, um, that we might see jobs and people moving out to places with a more favorable cost of living, a better quality of life, and spreading prosperity a little bit more broadly.
ALDEN: Thank you. Shelly, Kian, do you have anything you want to add to that?
GOHAR: I’ve definitely seen people move out of the big cities, and I think the hope is that over the long term, let’s say, in the next five years, the effects of the COVID dispersion of talent from big cities to small- and medium-sized cities will help ameliorate some of the inequities in access to education for those communities. I’m hopeful that we will have a reawakening in some parts of the country that have previously not had as much focus on access to opportunity.
ALDEN: Let me just add that I hope that that turns out to be the case, because I think the inequities in opportunity geographically across this country have a lot to do with our political divides. And I think to the extent that those were eased, I think it would help the broader healing we need as a country. Veronica, let’s go to the next written question, please.
STAFF: We’ll take the next written submission from Dale Lafleur from NAFSA: Association of International Educators. She’s “interested in hearing the panelists speak to the important role of international students and scholars that come to study in the United States as it relates to the economy, entrepreneurship, and the development of intercultural skills for all students.”
ALDEN: Who would like to take that on? I could add a few thoughts as well, because it’s actually an issue I’ve worked on a lot, but who would like to take this first?
GOHAR: I mean, I’ll just say from my own experience, I studied abroad in two different countries and that gave me a tremendous different amount of perspective to be able to work with people from different backgrounds. And if this country decides to limit the number of educators who come to America to teach, I think we would be at a disservice from the intercultural conversations that we’d be having and it’d be less which country. And so I do hope that we do see more access to high-quality international scholars to come to America and teach for short stints of time so that we can continue having those conversations.
ALDEN: Um, let me maybe just add quickly from the, you know, some of the research I’ve done on this. I’ve worked a lot on immigration. I mean, the pipeline of foreign students coming through American universities and going into the U.S. workforce, you know, it’s the secret sauce, I think, that has made us a world innovation leader. It isn’t the only reason, but it’s a big one. And so I think if we cut off that pipeline, we’re potentially in a lot of trouble in terms of our economic leadership in the world. But I would add, just because I think this is going to become an issue in a lot of your institutions, the real question going forward is going to be students from China, because they’re, you know, there’s growing concern in Washington about what’s seen as a growing strategic challenge from China. And a lot of questions about whether having Chinese students in the United States is a net benefit for the United States or in some ways is detrimental to our security. And so I think this is a conversation that educators at every school in the country are going to have to get involved in. I mean, my personal belief is that the benefits far outweigh the cost. If you look at the role of, you know, say, Chinese graduate students staying as part of our AI enterprise at companies like Google and at universities elsewhere, the value is tremendous. But this is a big controversial discussion that’s going to go on for some time now, I think. Veronica, next question, please.
GOHAR: Can I—
ALDEN: Oh, go ahead, Kian. Please, go ahead.
GOHAR: I actually lived in China and studied in China twenty years ago, and I was the reverse angle that was happening as Chinese companies and organizations were wondering like what, how threatening are Americans coming to China, and they made a strategic decision to limit some of that afterwards. I think what we should do in this country is we should invite every student who can come to United States to study and stay here and work. I would even say require them to work here for two years or three years or four years after they get their education so that we benefit as a society from the input that we give them to come here and study.
ALDEN: Thank you. I like that idea. That would be the opposite of the way student visas operate currently. Next question, Veronica.
STAFF: We’ll take the next written submission from Jim Harrington at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire: “The community college status within the education community—its value, how much it’s valued—has always been an issue. In New Hampshire at this moment, the governor’s proposed a single board to govern higher education of the state. Experience has shown that the community colleges take a backseat to the universities in that model. How would you accentuate the community college and its critical role?”
ALDEN: Anybody? I don’t know whether anybody on our panels necessarily got the expertise for that one. Anyone want to give it a shot?
LUND: I mean, I would just say that I think there’s just a huge role that community colleges play, especially with the cost of a four-year degree. I think it’s only realistic to say that community colleges are a big part of the solution, because they’re more affordable, They offer a faster path to a credential. And we had talked earlier about manufacturing companies, all sorts of companies that are looking for someone with some kind of associate’s degree in a specific skill. Cybersecurity, um, you know, a technician for manufacturing, that it’s just a critical piece of the puzzle. And I agree, though, with the question that I think in the United States, but not in other countries, it has sort of been seen as like the backseat option as opposed to certainly an equal party at the table.
ALDEN: Yeah, if I could actually pull another question off the Q&A and direct it to Shelly, because I think it’s related to this. You know, we seem to be setting up, you know, sort of this, and I think it’s frequent in these discussions, a sort of bifurcation between the community college path and the four-year path. And [inaudible] says, “How do you motivate students towards jobs that require higher education like a bachelor’s or master’s degree but are not providing necessarily living wages nor benefits on their own?” She says, for instance, you know, “A fair number of educators K-12 are adjunct faculty can only afford to do those jobs because of the secondary household income.” So there are challenges even when people are getting bachelor’s degrees, and they’re moving into the fields that really don’t pay all that well. Shelly, let me throw that one to you.
STEWARD: Yes, I mean, this goes back to the need for job quality across the board. Very right that adjunct faculty are in an incredibly difficult job in terms of pay, security, benefits. You know, we need to raise the floor across the board for all jobs. There’s several ways of doing that, from incentives provided to companies, basic protections in terms of minimum wages and standard benefits, and supporting worker power and worker voice to raise the conditions, you know, starting where it matters most. So across the board, this is not a problem that just affects a certain sector or a certain occupation. There’s job quality challenges, kind of in all fields.
ALDEN: Let me push you a little bit on that incentives to companies piece. Should we really be paying companies to pay their workers better and treat their workers better? Or are you talking about a different sort of incentive?
STEWARD: Should we be giving them, say, tax breaks for investing in their workers in the same way that we give them tax breaks for investing in R&D, and, you know, physical infrastructure? That type of incentive, you know, similarly for, you know, not just providing training but for providing quality jobs. Um you know—
ALDEN: That’s it.
STEWARD: —right now, companies are incentivized to cut costs as much as possible and raise profits as much as possible. There’s not a lot of attention to how workers fit into that. This has contributed to the kind of fissuring of work and the standard arrangements and that’s the result of conscious choices that have been made. And by that same coin, conscious choices that can be made differently moving forward.
ALDEN: Yeah, I mean, there’s no question the tax system enormously preferences investing in labor-saving technology as opposed to investing in workforce education. That is an incredibly important point. Veronica, next question, please.
STAFF: We’ll take the next question from Vesna Markovic at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Please unmute yourself and state your question.
Q: Hi, my name is Vesna. And I was just um wondering. A lot of buzz has been going around about the microcredentialing of individuals. That’s been something we’ve put committees together. I don’t know how valid you think that is, or is there a better way to get maybe students prepared with less credit hours? Thank you.
ALDEN: Susan, you want to kick that one off, because you raised it some in the discussion?
LUND: Yes, so I think that there are some very valuable things. Like similar, I live also in the Washington area. A lot of the big defense companies said they couldn’t hire enough cybersecurity analysts. So one of the big companies worked with the University of Maryland to create a certificate degree. Not a major because that would limit the pipeline. So students in any major could take just a handful of courses and then get a certificate that certified that they were eligible to work in cybersecurity. So I think that the potential of that is that it opens the aperture on who you’re going to consider and imparts very critical skills. Another successful, I think, example has been through the National Association of Manufacturers, where they’ve defined very different, very specific skills needed in manufacturing, whether it’s in tool and die or what have you. And then this enables workers who want to build up a set of credentials to take very specific training courses or demonstrate on the job that they have this very specific skill and that helps mobility. So if somebody is moving from one company to another, it’s a more transparent way of showing what you’re able to do. Um, and so I think that those are two examples where credentialing and these sort of micro, very narrowly defined credentials can sort of open the aperture for workers as well as be a more transparent way of showing potential employers what you can do.
ALDEN: Yeah, maybe just one other initiative that I would mention as critical in this transparency piece. Jamie Merisotis of Lumina, who was also part of our CFR Task Force, is part of an exercise called Credential Engine. I don’t remember whether he’s working with the Business Roundtable or others, but the idea is to actually have a database that shows young people pretty clearly: here are the employment options. If you’ve got this particular credential or that particular credential, here’s what kind of salary you might or, so that students can really make informed choices if they’re going to do one of these microcredentials. I think very often, they really have no idea, right? They, you know, they take, you know, a microprogram hoping it’s going to lead to employment, but they don’t have a clear idea. So I think those transparency initiatives are encouraging. I would just throw in one more thing. There are a lot of interstate barriers on credentials that we really need to knock down so people who have a credential in one state can move easily and do the work in another state as well. Yeah, go ahead, Kian.
GOHAR: I think there’s a supply and demand, right? And so like there’s a supply on the university side to create microcredentials, but there also has to be a demand by companies to accept those as legitimate entry ways into careers, right? And so often, uh, despite lots of attempts, a lot of companies have bias in terms of their hiring practices. And because individuals have bias when they’re looking through resumes, and they’re looking through, you know, all sorts of different kinds of people. So I’m hopeful that as a lot of hiring, these initial stages of it becomes increasingly algorithmic in terms of filtering through different kinds of candidates, um, the microcredentials will be seen as something that is valuable and is not biased negatively by humans in HR who look at candidates. And so I think there has to be an increased demand by companies, as well, to hire for those microcredentials. We’re seeing some, but it’s still early.
ALDEN: Yes, that there’s a lot of interesting work going on there. Maybe, Shelly or Susan, you remember, but Byron Auguste, who was working on these issues in the Obama administration, has got an organization now I think that’s directed exactly to that to try to show employers how to hire based on skills rather than, oh, you know, X student is a graduate of this university that we’ve always hired from. Do either of you remember what his organization is called again? Sorry, Opportunity—what was that? Opportunity Network, Shelly?
STEWARD: [email protected]
ALDEN: [email protected] Thank you. I recommend it highly. He does a lot of great stuff. Next question, please, Veronica.
STAFF: We’ll pick the next written submission from Eric Weber at IESE Business School in New York, New York: “Upskilling is great, but does an overemphasis on skill training not risk that we lose sight of the value of longer developmental periods of instruction?
ALDEN: Any of you want to tackle that? I mean, I think it’s an enduring concern. I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer there. But who wants to have a go at that one? Shelly, go ahead, please.
STEWARD: To me it ties back to one of the first questions that the audience asked about kind of revisiting what is a college education for and then ensuring that it’s accessible to those who want it without being required by those who don’t in order to get good employment.
ALDEN: Okay, next question, please, Veronica.
STAFF: We’ll take the next question from Steve Knight. Please unmute yourself, state your affiliation and question.
ALDEN: Looks like you are still muted, sir. There we go.
Q: All right. Anyways, so my name is Steve and I work at Kennebec Valley Community College in central Maine. Our president, Dr. Hopper, is a big supporter of you guys. He sent me two years ago down to the last live one. Food was really good.
ALDEN: We’re sorry about that. We all miss the food. [Laughs]
Q: There are a number of issues that came up here. One is our declining enrollment in high school. I used to teach in high school, it’s down almost 40 percent. Every school around here is down forty, fifty, sixty, except for Portland, maybe Bangor. So our pool of applicants competing going to different schools has shrunk dramatically. I used to do recruiting and, you know, we didn’t have enough space for them, and now it’s the opposite. We have a fair number of immigrants coming in, until the last few years, and so that creates ELL [English language learners]. We’re working on some training for people on that. The high school in Augusta County High School has a huge program. They probably have seventy or eighty Middle Eastern kids there, um, and it’s a wonderful opportunity. But to train them up for the jobs, we don’t have enough electricians. We don’t have enough nurses. We don’t have enough technology. And I mean we train them, but we don’t have the money to train more, all right, and we’re not going to get it. And so we used to have a lot—in the last recession, we had a huge impact of middle-aged people coming back in which you guys mentioned. Paper mills were closing. We’ve had almost none in this recession, okay—
ALDEN: Sir, good observations. Can you form it into a question for our panel?
Q: How do you move forward with the funding problem, the population issue, like you mentioned in Iowa, you know, educated people moving out. I contribute it to the aging of the population. So exactly, how do you overcome this huge tangle?
ALDEN: Susan, I might throw this one at you one more time. It’s a sort of geography question. Again, I guess.
LUND: It is a struggle for so many parts of the country that are aging. Young people are moving out, and it puts a big strain. But I think that, two things, I mean, there are lots of examples of areas that have turned themselves around by focusing really on—it gets down to community development, economic development, like what industry can you attract and become, you know, successful at. And the other thing, though, is that I hope that remote work and spreading potential geography of work can allow people to go work for many more different places, which then provides a tax base to get to some of the funding constraints that you’re mentioning.
ALDEN: Thank you very much. There’s a written question I actually want to throw at Kian and Shelly as well. And it’s “automation will have significant effects on the future of work. In what ways can a universal basic income be used to mitigate the negative effects?” Of course, Andrew Yang ran a very strong Democratic campaign on this platform. And if you look at what’s happened over the last nine months or so we’ve kind of had a bit of an experiment in something like a universal basic income. Have we learned anything that’s valuable going forward? Kian, maybe I’ll start with you and then go to Shelly.
GOHAR: Yeah, we definitely had an experiment in UBI over the last year. We just haven’t called it UBI, right? We have expanded unemployment benefits to people who were previously nontraditional workers, who were freelance workers, gig workers, creative workers, and that really helped a lot of people survive the deepest parts of the pandemic recession. And, ah, you know, I think it’s been successful. I think going forward there’s a lot of policy issues and concerns by different individuals about whether we should continue this kind of activity or not. But I think it’s been very valuable to give people who really needed that level of support while the deepest parts of the recession to continue. I think in our task force, we didn’t have a consensus on whether America should have a UBI or not, and we invariably stumbled into it last year. I do think we should have a modified form of UBI to help us achieve particular goals, policy goals that we set as a country in a bipartisan fashion that we want to encourage. And I do think some form of UBI, if we don’t call it that, is valuable. Like I mentioned earlier, maybe we should be giving entrepreneurs and creatives the ability to pursue their work and create new jobs and create, um, intangible benefit to society through their activities that right now the market isn’t affording.
STEWARD: Yeah, I mean, I think one thing that there’s growing recognition of through the pandemic is that we need stronger social supports, especially targeted to those who need it most and possibly universally across the board. We have some really exciting pilots across the country in different contexts that show really promising findings for specifically universal basic incomes. We also have, you know, our experiment with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and you know, what that’s done for many families as well as the real challenges and equity concerns it’s brought on. And so, you know, whether it’s a form of UBI, whether it’s a wage guarantee, whether it’s a jobs guarantee, you know, there’s several possible paths to bolster the support we provide for working people.
ALDEN: Thank you very much. Veronica, we’ve got about four minutes left so this is probably going to be the last question. And I apologize to those of you who’ve put excellent questions in the chat or waiting in the queue if we don’t get to your question. Veronica, let’s take the final question here.
STAFF: We’ll take the last question from Earl Anthony Wayne at American University in Washington, DC. Please unmute yourself and state your question.
ALDEN: It’s good to see you, Ambassador Wayne.
Q: Well, it’s good to see you all, and it’s been a great conversation. So here’s my question. I have done a lot of thinking about this and one of the big challenges is getting people together to learn from each other. There are some really good examples in various communities and regions of this academic, business, local government working together. So how, as a nation and even more broadly, internationally, what kind of structures or mechanisms should we put in place and could we put in place, let’s say, at a national level to bring together all these good examples, hear each other? You can take them home and put them in practice and national leaders can put them into practice through laws and regulations. What should we do there? Thanks very much.
ALDEN: That is a great, great question. Susan, do you want to kick us off on that? And then I’ll ask either Shelly or Kian if they want to weigh in as final comments. Go ahead.
LUND: Look, I think you’re absolutely right that there are exciting programs. I think CFR should have mini conferences to educate everyone on what’s out there and what works. But more seriously I think that we should have the federal government get involved here, like some of the Race to the Top-type initiatives or Kian’s XPRIZE example. Like we need something national in scale, because we do have wonderful examples that are happening at the community level, but we need a more coordinated effort across the country. The question about, you know, the disparity between what’s available in Maryland versus Iowa was a great example. We need a national push to take what works, and then scale it up and roll it out at a very high level and that is what’s been missing. And without that we risk continuing to worsen inequalities and opportunity depending on where somebody happens to be living or born.
ALDEN: Thank you very much, Susan. That that would make a pretty good last word, but Kian or Shelley, do you have anything to add to that, please?
GOHAR: I would just say that the pandemic has democratized access to learning through virtual learning. And I hope that once we enter this new era of the post-pandemic times, that we don’t lose sight of all the various platforms that we’ve been able to connect with each other through in a virtual format. Like here we have hundreds of people that ordinarily would not be able to gather. And so I do hope that we will take the best of the pandemic in terms of learning, regardless of where you are, and being able to continue with that in post pandemic.
ALDEN: Shelly, last thirty seconds to you.
STEWARD: Sure. Preparing for the future of work needs to be a national priority, but locally carried out and locally targeted by people on the ground who understand the local labor markets. So I think that last question spoke to that sort of double need, which I hope we’ll see in the coming years.
ALDEN: Excellent. Thank you, Tony, for a great final question. And to our panelists—Kian, Susan, Shelley—thank you. This has been a very rich and fascinating discussion. It reminds me why I enjoyed working on these issues so much and still do. Irina has asked me to remind you all to encourage your students to apply for jobs and paid internships at the Council on Foreign Relations. One of the things I’m really proud of from our task force is that it prompted the organization, and Richard Haass personally, to take a look at our own hiring practices and recognize the barriers that unpaid internships pose for so many students. So I’m delighted to see the progress that we’ve been making there. So encourage your students to apply to CFR. There will be, as I understand, a thirty-minute break before the next session. Please use the link that’s in your confirmation e-mail to log back into the next session at 2:15 p.m. Eastern. Thank you again to our panelists and to all of you for excellent questions. It’s been a great session.
Introduction to CFR Educational Products, from 00:00 to 17:05
Online, Hybrid, and In-Person: Teaching With CFR Resources, from 17:06 to 1:21:09
NETCHVOLODOFF: Thanks very much, Irina, and all of your team for inviting me to participate in this terrific gathering today. I am Caroline Netchvolodoff, as you just heard. I’m CFR's vice president of education, and I oversee the development, implementation, and marketing of Model Diplomacy and World101, the Council's two digital classroom products that teach about the fundamentals of international relations and foreign policy. I look forward to sharing information about both of these products with you and to describing our mission to increase global literacy, which has evolved over the past several years. But before I dive in, I want to spend a few minutes talking about, of all things, zombies. And no, the zombies that you see on the screen right now are not part of a Netflix series. We're going to take a quick—this is actually a lesson from our global health module that's part of World101. I thought we'd take a quick look at this, a segment of it anyway, it's a four minute video, before we get started.
So believe it or not, we actually produced this video in 2018 long before anyone had heard of COVID-19. We thought it would be a compelling way to explain how the global health community would respond, not if but when faced with a pandemic. Little did we know that, unfortunately, the video was quite prescient, and we did not have any idea how soon it would be quite relevant to everyone. Fast forward to the spring of 2020, with COVID-19 up-ending life across the globe. We found ourselves in the Education department ready to meet the moment as educators like all of you, not to mention millions of parents, and needed online materials to help explain how the world was responding to the biggest threat of our generation. We created a full set of COVID-19 resources and also leaned on existing content to do that. It's not just zombies. So many times over the past year, I've been struck as I scan the news by the way Model Diplomacy and World101 really have anticipated the global challenges that come about and also about how useful both products' foundational content is in explaining the world.
So how did we get into the business of making zombie videos? Well, as all of you likely know, the Council has a long tradition of serving as a resource for those who are committed to understanding international relations and U.S. foreign policy, including, of course, those of you who teach these topics. But six years ago with the launch of the Council's global literacy initiative, the Education department began producing original learning resources specifically to help a much larger portion of the American public understand the world, especially high school and college students. It's worth clarifying that by “globally literate,” we don't mean folks who have read every great book or who can order dessert at a restaurant in five different languages. What we mean by globally literate individuals is folks who have a basic understanding of the world's most pressing issues, forces and actors, and how they come together to influence all of our lives. It's people who are committed to maintaining an open mind and to expanding their perspective. And it's those who possess the critical thinking, critical reading, and collaboration skills that are necessary to debate and act on those issues. In 2016, Model Diplomacy simulation launched as the first of CFR's global literacy products. And here we are five years later with a diverse cross section of high school and college students having had the opportunity to simulate what it's like to have a seat at the table where our country's most pressing foreign policy issues are addressed. Model Diplomacy now offers both basic and advanced versions of National Security Council and UN Security Council simulations for all of its—most of, not all—nineteen cases, making it accessible for a broad range of students in schools from community colleges to large universities and public high schools and underserved communities to independent schools across the country—schools of all sorts. The investment has really paid off. Model Diplomacy has grown to include users in all fifty states and 120 countries and hopefully including some of you in the audience. By the way, it's now actually a graduation requirement for all cadets at West Point.
Last year, we launched a new collection of what we call “pop-up cases,” short-term key scenarios for instructors who don't have the time to engage with a full simulation. The current library, which is growing literally by the week, of fourteen pop-up cases includes current events topics such as COVID vaccine inequality, Uyghur repression in Xinjiang, and tackling climate change after the pandemic. Other scenarios teach about relevant historical events, including most notably influenza and war in 1918. So while Model Diplomacy is designed for students who largely self-select into classes that cover global affairs, Education's second product, World101, is intended to welcome those with little or no background into the conversation. And World101 isn't just for students in formal classroom settings. It's actually useful for everyone, including all of us. I certainly have had an incredible education about the world while helping put together the World101 platform. So importantly, World101 is free, as is Model Diplomacy. World101 is a free modular course dedicated to explaining what lies at the core of the most important and enduring global issues of our time, as well as why those issues matter and how they're relevant. It's designed to be consumed all at once or in bite-sized pieces, whether as an individual lesson, group of modules, or a unit to supplement existing syllabi. It can also be used to serve as the foundation of a completely new syllabus.
The first World101 unit, called “Global Era Issues,” and home to our zombie content actually, is a collection of eleven modules that explain the fundamental global issues that drive today's news. I like to say that what we're doing with World101 is akin to setting a table. So if you think about while CFR.org, with its backgrounders and so forth, the fellows in the think tank, and Foreign Affairs tackle more nuanced topics, World101 addresses the most fundamental aspects of them. So questions as simple as— but big as—how does international trade affect my life or who will protect me if a pandemic breaks out? World101's second unit splits the world's nearly eight billion people and close to two hundred countries into six regions and explores each through six crucial lenses. I always miss one. Let me see if I can get them all: essential modern history, people in society, economics, geopolitics, politics, and U.S. foreign policy towards the region. Recently, we updated the unit to reflect how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequality in societies around the globe. This collection gives students a roadmap for understanding the issues, context, and trends that matter most but from a regional perspective. Each “Regions of the World” module is introduced through an overview video that focuses on the main trends and themes of that region as identified actually by CFR experts. The third unit, the development of the third World101 unit, was guided by the belief that empowering students with an understanding of how the world is designed to work will give them lifelong tools to recognize when those forces, norms and rules break down, which is why we added the dot, dot, dot, and sometimes doesn't work. Using that powerful idea is a jumping-off point. This collection explores the underpinnings of the modern international system from concepts of sovereignty, nationalism, and self-determination that are its bedrock to the forms of government and international institutions that help countries address the world's most pressing issues.
We're in the process of rolling out our fourth World101 unit, a collection of three modules that contextualize modern history as it relates to the development of international relations. This unit will ultimately comprise twenty multimedia lessons built around guided questions to drive home the ways in which history can be used to understand the present and to build critical perspective. “Prelude to the Global Era” is the first module in the historical context unit. It's up on our site and ready for you to use in your classrooms. The lessons in the module explore why we live in countries, where democracy comes from, and how we came to live longer and healthier lives than ever before. We'll be building on these modules with additional lessons, but for the early stages we've got the three eras and each comes with a compendium of lessons. The second and third modern history modules, “World at War” and “Global Era,” will be ready for use in your classrooms late next month. Our fifth and final World101 unit is slated for release in late fall 2021. That's six months from now. The collection will tackle all things foreign policy from the tools and approaches to how foreign policy is made in the United States. The lessons will impart the critical fact that foreign policy is complicated. It's important, and it almost always involves trade-offs. We plan to end this unit with a lesson focused on highlighting the connections between domestic and foreign policy, namely that what happens in the world and what the United States does beyond its borders really matters and is relevant to and affects all of us at home.
On that note, I want to circle back quickly to what I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation. As we plan for the future of CFR's Education department, I thought a good deal about the threats our democracy has faced in recent years and watched with great interest, and frankly, tremendous relief as not just the education community but policymakers at the highest level of government have responded by igniting, reigniting, but after many years a focus on civics education. It's abundantly clear that a comprehensive twenty-first century civics curriculum must extend beyond learning the domestic basics like the system of checks and balances and the Bill of Rights to include a fundamental understanding again of international relations and foreign policy. The bottom line is that civics education must include a global element. The nature of today's connected world simply demands that. I believe, as I hope you do, that Model Diplomacy and World101 are tailor-made to facilitate this critical work.
I'll end with a couple of exciting developments on that front. We've recently partnered with Educating for American Democracy, a diverse collaboration of three hundred academics, historians, political scientists, K through 12 instructors, district and state administrators, civics content providers, and students. It's a real panoply of folks to fundamentally rethink how history and civics are taught in this country. There's actually an article in the Washington Post today highlighting the work of Educating for American Democracy. And with our World101 and Model Diplomacy platforms, CFR Education is actually part of a select group of publishers included in their collection of resources, an acknowledgement that what we're building and creating is critical as our country endeavors to invest in the civil infrastructure needed to meet the modern and global challenges that lie ahead, and frankly, the challenges that exists today and that have been in front of us for quite a while. Through this collaboration and others, there is upcoming work with iCivics to create a game for an even younger middle school audience. We hope to deliver college-ready students to your classrooms, students who are prepared to engage on important global issues with greater knowledge and understanding. It's been a real pleasure to participate today and yesterday. There's no doubt in my mind that educators like you are essential and trusted custodians of our democracy, which makes our work together more important than ever. And I hope what I have shared has resonated that you'll use both Model Diplomacy and World101 in your classrooms and that the next time we can actually be together at CFR to greet one another and exchange ideas face to face. Please reach out with any questions. Sign up for our newsletter. You see some information here on the screen. Follow us on social media to receive up-to-date information about our latest content releases and our global civics content and partnership activities. Thanks very much.
STAFF: Thank you. At this time, we will now transition to the session on teaching with CFR resources.
ZAPPILE: Hi, and welcome to our session on online, hybrid, and in-person teaching with CFR resources both during a pandemic and pre- and post-pandemic, I'll add. So I'm so thrilled to be here. I'm an associate professor of political science at Stockton University in south New Jersey, and I will get started immediately with our panelists. So first up, we have William McRaven. Bill spent thirty-seven years in the Navy, including special ops, and retired as a four-star admiral. Then he became chancellor of the University of Texas System. He is now a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School. In addition to his professional experience and position as a CFR board member, Bill has experience with model diplomacy in the classroom. So I'll turn it over to Bill to get us started to talk for some time about your experience with teaching with CFR resources.
MCRAVEN: Well, thank you very much, Tina. It is great to be here with you and the members of CFR and all those educators that are joining us today. As Tina mentioned, I spent thirty-seven years in the military and then three and a half years as the chancellor of the University of Texas System. And then in 2018, I stepped down from that job and immediately began teaching at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. And of course, being a new faculty member, I was trying to figure out how I was going to kind of shape the course and what I wanted to teach the students. And I knew from the beginning, based on, frankly, my experience working on the National Security Council staff in the Bush 43 administration and then as a commander under the Obama administration, I had spent a lot of time in the White House Situation Room. I really wanted to have an opportunity to expose the students to how decisions were made at that level. And the way I thought about doing this was I was going to kind of create the Situation Room, we would provide them scenarios, and they would roleplay the various actors in the Situation Room. And as I was kind of mulling this over, I happened to have a visit to the Council on Foreign Relations, and I was talking to one of their great staff members there and she mentioned to me and she said, "Well, you know, we have this thing called Model Diplomacy. You ought to check it out." And of course I went on and I went, "Eureka." This is exactly what I needed.
So let me walk you through a little bit about how I have used Model Diplomacy. So again, my class is a graduate class. I've got probably about three-quarters of the class are public policy at the LBJ School and we normally have about, you know, five or so law students, and then invariably a TOWER fellow. So a TOWER fellow is someone that has life experience. They are generally, you know, later on in life, but have come back for much more than a continuing education. They are embracing and immersing themselves in higher education. And so I take these students, and as I said, I put them in the White House Situation Room, and they play the roles of the National Security Council. So there is, you know, a Madam President or Mr. President, there is the national security adviser, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, the secretary of the Treasury, the attorney general, the ambassador to the UN, and the director of White House communications. And we, you know, we will adjust that as required for the scenarios. Then I went to the Model Diplomacy and I looked at the scenarios that I thought were going to be most applicable. And the ones that I have used on a number of occasions was one about a drone strike in Pakistan; a cyber clash with China; an infectious disease in Colombia, and this was a pandemic that originates in kind of Venezuela, Colombia and, of course, we've been using this scenario for several years now; Russia and NATO in the Baltics; and then a North Korean nuclear threat.
And so as the students sit around the table, they have to deliberate and provide me a solution to a very complex problem within an hour. So not a lot of time, but the fact of the matter is most national security meetings take about an hour. So as the class started, I've got an account, all the students log on to the Model Diplomacy website, and again, before the various scenarios began, they get the full scenario build up—all the slides, all the background material, there are videos on how to perform as a member of the National Security Council or the UN Security Council, there are premieres on the region, everything from the economics to the health. It is all there on the Model Diplomacy site. I have added a little bit to this because one of my co-faculty members is a former Army intelligence officer, so we will actually supplement some of the Model Diplomacy's with some of our own intelligence. But it's, again, it's all right there where you need it. Then once the scenario begins, frankly, I sit back and watch the deliberations. And, of course, there's nothing quite like seeing the interaction between the students who have a role to play. And part of the course in playing their role is understanding how the members of the National Security Council, how those particular roles play in making decisions. So you have the soft power, if you will, in the secretary of the state. You have hard power in Defense. You have economic power in Treasury. You have the power and the constraints of the international environment, kind of embodied in the UN ambassador. You have legal considerations provided by the attorney general. You have intelligence shortfalls and information that comes in provided by the DNI. And then, of course, you always have to message your actions through the director of the White House communications. And, of course, as they sit around the room and we go through these scenarios, the point I continually make to them is whether you are in the National Security Council, the city council, or the student council, how you make decisions is all the same. You have to understand how to make decisions. You have to understand that as a leader if you're sitting at the head of that table, you have to think about I've got soft power. I've got hard power. I've got to always look at the financial aspects. I've got to look at the legal implications of this. I've got to figure out how I'm going to message it. Again, no matter what decision you're having to make at what level.
My favorite scenarios, there are two of them that I particularly like. The first one I give the students is a drone strike in Pakistan. The reason that's the first one is because I set the scenario up the way it is displayed in the Model Diplomacy. I set the scenario up where it's a very black and white decision. The scenario is such that you have the current head of al-Qaeda is in a hideout in Pakistan. We know that they are planning to conduct a major operation that could potentially kill a lot of Americans, and the head of al-Qaeda is coming to this location. We have a drone overhead. We know that the munitions that are going to be used will kill only the head of al-Qaeda and a couple of facilitators that are with him. The women and children that are in the compound are away from the area we're going to strike. They will be safe. So that's the way I set up the scenario. And, of course, as the president and his various members are going through this, they're looking at this and, of course, it almost becomes a no-brainer. You have a threat to American individuals. You have the head of al-Qaeda. You're going to have a clean strike. So after about an hour of deliberation, I turned to the president and I say, "Well, Madam President, what's your decision?" And they will invariably say, "We've decided to do—" "Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, before you give me your decision, I need to let you know that now there are two women and two children on target, and they're probably going to die when you make the strike. Now, tell me what your decision is." And every single time you can all of a sudden see the students grappling with this conundrum of, "Well, I've got to protect American lives, but now you're telling me I'm going to kill women and children?" "Yep, so tell me what your decision is." And they struggle mightily with that as they should. And of course the point of that scenario is if you think this is easy, you're mistaken. Nothing about making tough decisions is going to be easy. And so that kind of starts it off, and then they get in the mindset.
The other one I liked, of course, was the pandemic in Colombia because there are so many aspects to how you're going to deal with that pandemic and how difficult it is. I also give them a framework for making these decisions. I talked about the fact that as you sit there at the head of the table, and again, National Security Council, city council, student council, you always have to begin by asking yourself, "Who are we?" I mean, who are we as a nation? We're a nation of laws. We're a nation of the people. We believe in universal human rights. And, of course, understanding who you are is going to drive all the decisions you make. You have to understand what your priorities are. Do you have all the facts? What are your options? Are your decisions going to be moral, legal, and ethical? Will we be in a better strategic position? What are the consequences of your action? What are the consequences of inaction? What if you're wrong? The model diplomacy scenario, I mean, again, it is remarkable for doing this and teaching the students these things because they realize how complicated things are. But the other thing that Model Diplomacy does for me is it teaches them how they have to act in a setting where there are multiple players all trying to come to, you know, an equitable decision. They find that they have to be collegial. They have to be respectful. They have to present the facts. They have to try not to get emotional. They've got to build trust amongst their peers because if they fail to do this, then they're likely to get an ineffective outcome. Certainly not the outcome they want. So it's not only about understanding the dynamics of the scenario, it's not only about understanding the geopolitics, but it is also teaching them how do you behave. How do you behave in a setting like this? Why is civility important? Why is it important not to get emotional, and, you know, point at someone? I mean, the little things that we think are important as well.
I tell you, CFR, in general, of course, has also been very, very helpful. My assistant faculty member works with the Model Diplomacy folks all the time. As I mentioned, we tweak it. It is both scalable and adjustable. I've also been very fortunate to have Richard Haass come to the class, the president of CFR, and along with a number of other Council on Foreign Relations members. So I would just offer to all of you out there the Model Diplomacy is absolutely one of the best tools I've ever seen for teaching students about the world, about the nature of foreign policy, and about the challenges of making tough decisions. And, you know, Caroline was talking about global literacy. I think the other thing I have found from this is when they have this global literacy, they also understand how it helps them make better local decisions. So the fact of that matter is you can make the connection between, you know, your global literacy and your local literacy. You can make the connections between how you're going to function in the White House, National Security Council, and how you're going to function on the student council. You can make those connections because, frankly, the frameworks are pretty similar. So with that, Tina, I will turn it back over to you. Thank you.
ZAPPILE: Thanks. You know, I do have a quick follow-up question before we move on to our next panelist. What would you say to educators who are interested in Model Diplomacy who do not possess the same experience that you have, for example, from your career?
MCRAVEN: You don't have to have that. I'm glad you raised that issue. So one of the things I find really enjoyable is when I put the students in these scenarios, you know, they do a lot of prep work. They know they're going to be the secretary of defense or the secretary of state. So they sit down and they read all the material that comes from Model Diplomacy. They get all the background information, and frankly, when they walk into the room, they have a level of confidence because they've done the hard work. They've done the studying. They know the material. You don't have to ever know anything about Tigray and Ethiopia, but if you read up on it and you study up on it, you're going to be, you know, pretty conversant on it. So you certainly don't have to have my background in order to be able to use it. I mean, it is, you know, it comes fully packaged and ready to be used. And again, I highly recommend it.
ZAPPILE: Well, thanks for sharing that. So we'll move to our next panelist. We have Carol Wise. Carol is a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Southern California. Carol is also the author of Dragonomics: How Latin America is Maximizing (or Missing Out on) China's International Development Strategy. And Carol has experience using Richard Haass's book with her students. So Carol, I'll turn it over to you to talk about your experience teaching with CFR resources.
WISE: Great, thank you, Tina. I'm so excited to be here because I walked off my campus at the University of Southern California on March 12. I was driving home in LA traffic and boom, I got some big alert from the university: "Don't return." I didn’t even get my gym bag out of the office. I don't return and I haven't been back since, and boom, right into online teaching. I was treading water through the rest of the spring, but over the summer I was able to pull it together—tech classes and, you know, Zoom classes and whatnot. The timing on the publication of Richard's book was so fortuitous for me personally. So let me talk about two things. The first is how I have used the book and the syllabus in an introductory course called "Politics of the World Economy." It's upper division, 300-level for undergraduate students. So the first thing I did—the book has four parts. I got a high-tech teaching assistant, Jake Buchman, at USC, to draw up PowerPoints of each of the parts, a maximum of twenty-five slides per part, right? I'm happy to share those with Caroline or whomever. Now these are heavy duty, right, so we would get ourselves up, say part one, we get ourselves up through 1945. Then we turn and as a core course in basically international political economy, I bring in John Ikenberry's piece on the Anglo-American consensus with the Bretton Woods. You know, I bring in Karl Polanyi. I've got to bring in some classics, which the students hate. Then we go back to The World, which they love. And I have mixed that up with the last dual classes 12 to 17. Classes 12 to 17 cover everything from climate change to nuclear proliferation, migration, etcetera. So rather than plodding through The World and getting up to the present, which is what, you know, in-person, we can make that much more palatable, what I did is bring in one of these cutting-edge issues, and I started with the section on the pandemic, well, global health and the pandemic. And the wonderful thing about the syllabus is it's got podcasts, TED talks, The President's Inbox, and Foreign Affairs articles. The students love it. They absolutely love it. So what you can do with those materials is set up debates, you know, one side take this position and other side take that position, etcetera. So that has been very successful.
Now the other thing that I taught, this was the fall, okay, so in the fall, I also teach what we call a capstone honors thesis seminar for seniors, high-end seniors, right? They're really the top, cream of the crop. And I don't know what it was, luck of the draw, but at least five of my ten seniors had chosen thesis topics that overlapped with these key parts of, you know, again, climate change, global health, nuclear proliferation. So, given that they're seniors and given that they're writing honors theses, I have to say CFR has been very, very welcoming. When I ask my senior honors thesis writer to participate in this session on Iran and, you know, nuclear weapons or, you know, can this one participate on, you know, the pandemic, COVID-19, etcetera, the answer has invariably been "yes." I have to say that the people are, you know, if you will, the professionals that are participating in the panels have been so gracious. I tell each student that participates—it's just one at a time at these events, you know, given their topic—I say in the Q&A, you know, ask a question, identify yourself as a senior thesis writer, and ask if it's possible to get some ideas or contacts from this person. And the people that are on the panels have been very generous, really generous. Now we're in LA, we're regional. I went to graduate school in New York at Columbia. You get to campus, and there's at least five events that you want to go to that day. And, you know, they're advertised all over. That's not USC. And so what is really fantastic, my students are international. They're also coming from fancy prep schools and whatnot, but Los Angeles isn't the hub of public policy, foreign policy, or high-end political debate, right? And so I have to say that at both the undergraduate core course level with forty-eight students and with the honor senior seminar, it makes them feel so important. They absolutely loved tuning into these events. And I think that just, you know, I have a lot of undergrads. So I think from that perspective, and this is kind of complements what Caroline was saying in the beginning, you know, what is the student response? How are the students responding to these educational outreach modules and whatnot that CFR is putting together? It's a great response. Now, I also just got a syllabus approved. I've taught every summer in the Renmin University International Summer program in Beijing. I didn't go last summer. I'm not going this summer. I'm teaching online this summer. They have just approved a syllabus that is not entirely The World, but certainly draws on what I talked about of classes 12 to 17 on the syllabus. The only criticism or request that I have is that you update the syllabus, Richard. Maybe it's time for a second edition of the book, but it's really been a success. Thank you.
ZAPPILE: Thank you, Carol. I really appreciate you sharing that experience. And we're getting some questions about the book and more information requests for your materials that you have so graciously volunteered. So we'll definitely make sure to follow up with you about that, Carol. So we'll turn to our final panelist. We have Masoud Kavoossi, who is a professor of international business, international business strategy, and international management at Howard University. He is the author of The Globalization of Business and the Middle East and has taught, worked, and lived in many countries. Additionally, he is a former CFR fellow in international affairs. Masoud has experienced teaching online well before the pandemic, in addition to experience with the CFR webinars. So I'll turn it over to you, Masoud, to talk about your experience with teaching with CFR resources.
KAVOOSSI: Thank you very much, Tina, and Irina, and everyone else who's put this awesome event together. It is a pleasure to join you. I want to ask Bill [McRaven] to please hold on to your drones while I speak, and maybe afterwards we can activate them. Once again, my experience starts way back as far as online is concerned. I just want to blend in my experience as far as online and the CFR's usefulness in regard to teaching online. I started—actually I'm a face-to-face and brick-and-mortar faculty like, I guess, most of us are. But I've also enjoyed being sort of online. Meaning what? I started teaching what used to be called distance education. We did correspondence. If anybody remembers that, you know, you actually made questions or lectures or things like that to students. And so it moved and graduated into online, and the transition was awful because the technology at the time—I'm talking about 1994 or so—the technology at the time was very rudimentary. You wished you had a web-based process. You wished you had anything but a DOS operating system with white font and black background and a telephone connection and no savings, no audio, and so on and so forth. So that's where I come from as far as teaching online. The issue as far as the pandemic is concerned, it exacerbated, and somehow accelerated, a larger number of faculty to move on into teaching online. For me that was a rather smooth transition, because I have taught entirely online courses at all levels—PhD, masters, and undergrads. And now I simply smoothly moved into fully online classes. By the way, just as an anecdotal example as far as the experience with the internationalization of online is concerned, a few years ago, maybe ten years ago or so, I set up for the first time the online teaching courses at UNISA, the University of South Africa. Just for your information the population student body at UNISA is about five hundred thousand students. The School of Business and Economics where I was setting up the international business online course for the first time—about one hundred twenty thousand students.
In any event, moving on in relation as the CFR is concerned, there are, you know, there's certain things that we can transfer from brick and mortar into the online and certain things that just cannot. They're not transferable. The online teaching requires, in my view, requires microlearning. In other words, I can't go on more than 15-20 minutes lecturing without losing some students before they look at their phone and try to find something else that entertains them. So what I do is I bring in CFR in this regard. Prior to 2015 or so, I used to simply assign a number of articles from, for example, Foreign Affairs if the course was graduate or other issue-specific publications that CFR has. You know, CFR has things on geoeconomics, geopolitics, health issues, and regional issues. So depending on the subject matter, I would include the readings. So, in fact, it was already built in to my syllabus. From 2015 or so I began to use—it used to be conference calls. CFR would have conference calls and it was on phone. Every time I could manage to have that live during my class time, I would gladly have the students join. I would give them a couple of readings from the speakers’ background or what CFR had recommended, and I would encourage them to ask questions. That really generated a lot of debate and discussion and periphery of the core subject matter sometimes.
You see, I teach international business. In international business, we are more concerned about the actual environmental concerns. I don't mean the climate. The environment of business, the sociopolitical cultural environment that the person or manager has to go. Otherwise management is, generally speaking, fairly similar. What is different, and where managers fail, is not understanding the sociopolitical and economic as well as cultural dimensions of the countries or regions that they're in. And that's what I emphasize. So my emphasis is a cross-border between international business, international political economy, international affairs, and so on and so forth. And the strategy has to take into account all of these nuances that exist. And I have used it more recently since we've gone entirely online. I have signed up more often, usually it is on Wednesdays, and I assign students to go and actually participate in the webinars. And they really like it because I asked them to give me feedback. And many of them, most of them actually, do give me feedback. One of the tricks as far as this online thing is concerned, because it's—I've taken online courses just to see how students feel. You feel like a silo. I mean, forget about pandemic, you're feeling like a silo anyway. But even when things were normal, you feel you're isolated. So you would want to engage them. And I engage them by asking questions. When they give me feedback as far as their takeaways, I give them feedback right away. I encourage them to exchange ideas and challenge each other. So that generates, I think, a lively discussion that takes place as far as CFR is concerned. Broadly speaking, CFR has been very useful in many, many ways that I have used it for life. I can use them, you know, when we have webinars. It’s like I use it as a guest speaker. And so I'll be looking forward if there is any questions. I'll be delighted to talk. Thank you, Tina.
ZAPPILE: Thanks, Masoud. I'm so glad you brought up engagement with students. Before we turn it over for the audience for questions, I do want to ask, you just spoke to your experience engaging your students. So I want to ask both Carol and Bill how are you engaging your students right now in the current circumstances where you and they are online in a way that you might not have been before?
MCRAVEN: Carol, please.
WISE: Okay. Since it's an undergraduate, it's a vibrant undergraduate population. I mean, I have doctoral students, but we're talking right now about mass use of CFR materials. And the creation of teams, all right, like maybe two or three students in the class are going to do the climate change module of the class, right? They're going to make a presentation. In other words, they are going to pull together everything in the podcast, you know, everything in the TED Talks and the articles and whatnot. The biggest way to keep them involved from my standpoint is to create participatory exercises because usually, I'm sorry, just turn off the video and schmooze out. I mean, it's tempting. I don't blame them. And so participatory exercises, lots of debate and discussion and interaction. And I will say that I've been teaching for thirty years and I've been doing extra office hours on Zoom, especially with the seniors. My seniors last year looked at, you know, no graduation, no ceremony, no nothing. They're looking at the same thing this year, and they're looking at a bleak job market. So you got to push a little harder, get involved a little more, which I love doing. It does require mentoring and office hours, but also, you know, internship possibilities, whatnot, to try and keep the world alive for them when it's pretty dead out there right now. So I feel very good about their response, particularly to all of this media material on The World syllabus. They really love it.
ZAPPILE: That's great. Thanks.
MCRAVEN: Yes, you know, when we were transitioning from in-person to online, Tina, I went back to the dean and I said, "I don't see any way that's going to work for my class." I mean, my class is a completely interactive course. We sit around the table. There are hot debates going on. People on the sidelines are engaging. I said, you know, "I'll give it the best shot I can, but I just don't see how it's going to work." Well, I'll be damned, it worked great. You know, I was fortunate the last week of when we went into the pandemic, I had already gotten to know the students so that transition was a little easier. But then when the fall came along, you know, they came up on the screen. You know, the great thing was their names were underneath there, so I had very quick name recognition. And because I can see them all at once, and of course, these students are not afraid to engage and they understood that, frankly, a large part of their grade was going to be their engagement. So I had absolutely no issues at all. And what I would do from a formatting standpoint was those that were sitting around the situation room table, they would have under their name block, you know, President Jones or Secretary of Defense Smith. And then the other ones would go black so that all I would see would be those that are interacting. But then when we opened it back up, those who were sitting on the sidelines had to comment on how all of the interaction went. So I've been very pleased. One, I think the students are used to doing this. So there was, frankly, I don't know that we missed a beat. The sad part for me it was, of course, I love personally engaging with the students. It's always the sidebar conversations that are fun. But the transition has gone unusually smooth and I've had no trouble at all. They've been very engaged even as much of a participatory courses as it is.
ZAPPILE: Great. Thanks for weighing in on student engagement, and I'm going to turn it over to the audience for questions. I have additional questions to add in, but I'm not going to, sort of, take the time away from the audience here. So we'll turn it over.
STAFF: Our first question is a written submission from Rhonda Breed from Martin Community College: "What would you say are best practices for addressing misinformation in the classroom in a very conservative area? I teach both sociology and psychology at Martin Community College, a very small community college in eastern North Carolina."
ZAPPILE: Any of our panelists can weigh in on the questions.
KAVOOSSI: Okay, I can say a few words. This is what I do. I live in Washington, DC. It is the capital of misinformation. [Laughs] Saying that, what I do is I do not allow students to use Wikipedia. I do not allow them to use Google. And I do not allow them to use CIA Factbook. The reason for CIA Factbook is not that they are misinformation, but I want to encourage them to go into the actual sources where CIA gets the information and puts it out. In other words, for example, you want the GDP of some country, the CIA gets it from the World Bank. So I want to encourage them to diversify and actually go to official formal authoritative sources. And I also require them to go to the library sources, which is refereed journal sources. There are many other ways I'm sure Carol and Bill have in mind, but that seems to minimize that type of misinformation that can seep into the coursework and discussions.
WISE: I'll say something. Luckily, I'm not Facebooked that much misinformation. We have other issues in California, but that isn't one of them right now. However, when somebody comes up with, you know, I had a class, you know, on China and the developing countries and a student that is not Asian comes up with a disparaging comment about, you know, China triggering the U.S.-China trade war and this kind of thing. I open it to student debate and let them figure out the truth. Because if I just sit there and say, "Oh, no, you know, that's not right, you're wrong." So really let them hash it over. I always invite students that are a little off in the causal, you know, the causal arrows or whatever. I usually invite them to bring material next week and we discuss it. There's no final answer. There's no right or wrong. Let's just discuss it. We can take a straw poll and see what, you know, what the weight is and the pros and cons of the statement. But it's really up to them. As far as I'm concerned, it's up to them to sort this out.
MCRAVEN: Yes, and I would offer I take kind of the same approach that Carol does. And, frankly, I have not had a lot of misinformation because we are scenario focused. So irrespective of what their personal feelings might be, when they're role playing the secretary of defense or the secretary of state or the secretary of the Treasury, back to Masoud's point, if you're the secretary of the Treasury and you're going to give me some information on GDP, you better make sure that information is exactly right because that's going to shape the discussion sitting around the situation room table. But when we do have, again, it's not all scenario based, but a lot of times we have discussions on current events. And to Carol's point, I let the power of the arguments kind of carry the day and hope that the students are smart enough—and they are—to figure out where ground truth really lies.
ZAPPILE: Yes, I'll weigh in quickly. Actually I do teach in a rural part of south New Jersey, and our faculty largely rely on a critical thinking approach similar to what Carol described, asking hard questions about where their evidence is coming from, where those conclusions might be drawn from, what additional evidence they're missing. I've been using that critical thinking, Socratic questioning framework. You can use it equally to people with all different types of views. So our faculty have had some success with that particular framework. So we'll look for additional questions.
KAVOOSSI: You know, if I can add just a quick follow up. What I do to minimize this actually, I ban students during discussions or in their papers to use adjectives.
KAVOOSSI: They're not allowed to use adjectives, because that's where they get into, you know, China is a great country. Okay, so what does that mean? You know, it's this or that? What does that mean? I'm not anti-adjective.
ZAPPILE: Thanks for sharing.
STAFF: Our next question comes from Dr. Jill Humphries from the University of Toledo. Please accept the unmute prompt.
HUMPHRIES: Yes, I'm unmuted. Thank you very much. I'd like to thank the panelists for their stimulating conversation. So my question is this. In listening to you all, but also listening to CFR's presentations, I have run into a conundrum and that is, as an African-American scholar but also practitioner who works in developing countries, I'm really interested in the way in which CFR develops its educational products and that is the diversity of the staff. The reason why I say that is when I'm actually listening to you all present I can hear a particular cultural context in which you're coming from, but it's not explicitly stated. So it appears as if it's neutral and natural, but it is not. So could you talk a little bit about the way in which you address your own cultural socialization, whatever that might be—gender, race, social class—because I heard several descriptors about students, which I thought was really interesting having taught across the U.S. and in Africa. And then also the way in which, I guess, the Council on Foreign Relations actually does select the composition of its educational curriculum developers. One last point is this. Having worked in Africa and having been a fellow just most recently in Ethiopia, I noticed that the U.S. embassy left out in our orientation some various critical issues. I thought this would be very interesting. I'm going to check out the resources around the way in which women, particularly women of color and African-American women who may be working in an African context, experience their jobs differently, particularly decision making, right, leadership. So even though it gets described that you should be quote-unquote, have these sort of "neutral ways in which you express yourself," that's coming from a particular cultural context. Could you talk a little bit more about how I could use these resources and/or revise these resources, because I would have to do that in order to make them really relevant at least from my teaching perspective? Thank you.
ZAPPILE: I want to thank you for raising this really important question as well. So we'll open it up to the panelists.
WISE: Well, really this is the elephant in the room, right? It just broke wide open—George Floyd, BLM. A lot of this has come up. And my university is, you know, retail, private sector. As you can tell you can buy—you know, our admission scandals and whatnot. And it's been, you know, how many billionaires do we have on the board of trustees, right, white guys, gray hair. So I mean we have so much work to do in terms of incorporating ethnically and racially diverse material into our classes. And I will say that we are making a very serious effort. We've got workshops that I'm attending, and, you know, it's not mandatory. The faculty has a huge commitment to doing this. But we have a ways to go. And I couldn't agree more with you, Jill Humphries, that what I've just described is what I'm teaching from The World in the syllabus. It's very, shall we say, un-diverse. But I do feel as a faculty member that it's on me to really get up to speed. I agreed to teach class I know nothing about next year, which is race, ethnicity, and gender. I'm going to just dive in and educate myself. It really takes an administrative effort, faculty effort, and personal volition like you and me. I have to want to do this, and I do want to do this. But I think you're raising a really important question.
KAVOOSSI: Can I say a few words, Tina?
ZAPPILE: Yes, please go ahead.
KAVOOSSI: Dr. Humphries, I have taught at Howard University, a leading HBCU for the past thirty-five years. I've also taught at two other HBCUs. And on top of that, I've also taught at a number of quote-unquote, "white universities," including University of Maryland, George Washington, Georgetown, American University as visiting professors. My sensitivity and the sensitivity that you raise are quite valid. I am from a developing country. Personally I'm still developing [laughs], but to say that what is going on is that on an individual base, when I bring in CFR is to diversify. CFR gives them more or less the sort of a common denominator of what is taking place in this country. I bring the alternative. So for me and Howard University students, among others, by the way, generally speaking, I could characterize them as antiestablishment. I wouldn't say the same type of things that I say to my Howard students at Georgetown. They would kick me out of the classroom, because it would be too critical for them. Or our wouldn't say that at American University or George Washington's Elliott School of International Affairs where I have taught. So I quite understand your sensitivity, but you just have to on a personal level be very diverse. I understand deeply what your concerns are. I'll be happy to talk to you if you ever wish to contact me.
MCRAVEN: And I would just offer, you know, from a CFR perspective being a board member, I will tell you that the diversity of the staff is something that Richard Haass looks at every single day. And we are struggling with it. Richard would be the first to tell you that. He and, frankly, the rest of the staff members are trying to find folks to come in to help diversify the thinking of CFR. So, frankly, the material they put out hopefully has a little bit more of that in it. I would offer from my perspective as the old white guy with gray hair, you know, I get as much out of teaching these classes as I think the students do. And I tell them that right up front. You know, I'm coming into this, I'm not a professional educator. I'm a practitioner, if anything, but my classes are very diverse. They're generally about 60 percent female and across all kinds of ethnic groups. It gives me an opportunity as we talk about these issues to really get from them their perspective on things that I frankly didn't have. And I have always been a big believer in diversity of culture of thought when it comes to making a decision. Because, you know, the more diverse the people sitting around the table, frankly, the better decision you're going to come to. And again, that's not just diversity of race or color or gender. It's also diversity of thought, and that's an important part of it. But the reason I enjoy teaching these classes is because, again, I walk away learning something every single day.
ZAPPILE: Thank you.
STAFF: Our next question is a written submission from David Benson at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Alabama: "Admiral McRaven, how would you recommend that U.S. Department of Defense Education, for example, PME [Professional Military Education], ASG [Advanced Studies Group], and IDE [Intermediate Developmental Education] and broader academia, can supplement each other to better teach foreign policy?"
MCRAVEN: Yes, that's a great question. You know, I've always been pleased that the military is very proactive when it comes to, certainly, officer education. I would offer that the Army and the Air Force have historically done it the best. The Navy, while we have some of the finest institutions of the Naval War College and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, I can tell you as a naval officer, if you went to those, the Navy said that's great. But if you didn't, you know, they wanted you to be in the cockpit, in the submarine, etcetera. But over the course of the last probably 15 to 20 years, the Navy has really invested a lot. And, of course, you have kind of these two areas of thought. Do you send your young officers to an LBJ School? So I almost always have a number of military officers in my graduate school class. Or do you send them to the Naval War College, the Naval Postgraduate School, or some other kind of military institution? And I think what they're trying to do is they're trying to figure out what the balance is. They want their officers to be able to think critically, to be exposed to, again, the diversity that I have in my classroom. But what you find at these other institutions when I went to the Naval Postgraduate School, I was stunned by the fact that 90 percent of the faculty were not military. They were from Harvard and Berkeley and USC and UCLA and they had taught there. And so I didn't feel like I was constrained by, you know, we're going to give you the military PowerPoint approach to—so I think that they're always grappling with it. It's always a bit of a balance. But the one thing the military has to recognize and constantly tend this garden is the officers, and certainly, I think, the senior enlisted as well. You need to be able to think critically. You need to be exposed to other cultures. You need to be exposed to other ideas. You have to be able to, again, recognize the problems you're walking in through whether it's in Afghanistan or Iraq. And the only way you kind of get this before the action is to get educated. So we just need to you know, keep at it.
STAFF: Our next question comes from Eunita Ochola from Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. Please accept the "unmute now" button.
OCHOLA: Thank you. I've really enjoyed this discussion given that it really centers on how to help the student better understand what we are giving to them. I also enjoyed the answers to diversifying content curriculum to cater to each groups culture diversity in our classes. The question I have is for Dr. Wise. I think this is a question that may appear to be simple. It's about online teaching and about your syllabus. You said your syllabus includes podcasts, videos, and other links. I understand you teach upper-level students. I teach English at Allen University. My question is the online syllabus is increasingly becoming very dense with information according to me. So, what is my question? Is there a way we can make the online syllabus less dense yet give the same amount of content to students? In other words, does a more dense information-wise of a syllabus discourage some students from even reading the syllabus before reading the other content?
WISE: Well, you came to the right place. Okay, so I'm in something called Dornsife College. It functions within the university as a liberal arts college. And extensively, let's take the 300-level class, the students are supposed to read a hundred pages a week. Hello. I don't know what they're doing, but I don't think they're reading very much. And no matter what I do, you know, they're not reading very much. So this really resonates with me because we have some of this hybrid stuff, right? Where it's like you're online Tuesday and then Thursday you're on your own to do reading. A lot of my colleagues are doing that, and they're stacking up all kinds of things like write a book review, get on a discussion board, and all these things to kind of compensate maybe their own guilt for, you know, not lecturing twice a week. And I think that—I've heard students complain about this a lot. What I do is I know they're not going to read everything, and I try to have no more than, you know, fifty pages, two articles. And then what's nice about these media inclusions in The World syllabus is they love that, right? They want to interact. They want to do podcasts. They want to watch TED talks. And so right now my attitude is, you know, the old-fashioned kind of learning that I've been doing for so long where I'm going to lecture. We're going to have Q&A. We're going to have an exam. It's kind of out the window. I mean, I'm not giving them exams. They are writing short papers and this kind of thing. But I really, really do think that—I've tried not to do it, but I can say some of my colleagues just loaded up the syllabus and it's counterproductive. Another thing, and I'm sure this is going to be familiar to some of you, we have major mental health problems. So many students because of the longevity of this, and the alienation of it, and the isolation in their homes with the quarantine, you know, I'm not going to overload them because they're already overloaded with an external price that is not of they're making and they're really getting worn down. We have a lot of mental health issues right now.
ZAPPILE: Thanks, Carol. So it looks like we have time for one more question from the audience. Maybe two if it's a quick one.
STAFF: Our next question is a written submission from Shimon Moore from Georgia Military College: "What are the top three soft skills you teach your students to cultivate students who will be able to compete and remain relevant in a global community?"
MCRAVEN: Yes, thanks. Well, again, part of my class involves leadership. So in addition to teaching them how to solve complex problems, you know, we talk about a lot about the role of a leader. And the first thing I tell them is everybody that joins an organization wants to be part of a great organization. I don't care whether you're flipping burgers at McDonald's or Whataburger, you know, nobody goes around and says, "Hey, where's that mediocre organization. That's what I want to be part of. I want to be part of a mediocre organization." Nobody does that. They all want to be part of a great organization. And if you're going to be part of a great organization, you need a couple of things. You need a leader that has integrity. Make no mistake about it, character and integrity matters. So we talk a lot about the role of a leader and the importance of this kind of servant leadership. And you know that term well, but I always quote, you know, Pope Francis, who said that a shepherd should smell like his sheep. A shepherd should smell like a sheep. I always liked it, because it tells you a lot. It means as a leader you need to get down. You need to be with the men and women that are part of your organization. You need to listen to them. You need to respect them. But also as a leader, you've got to set high standards. You've got to give the men and women that work for you the tools to achieve those standards, and then you have to hold them accountable when they fail to achieve those standards. That's it. It's not rocket science. It's come with good character, make sure you set high standards, give the men and women the materials, the resources to do the job, give them the latitude to do the job, and then hold them accountable. And if you do that, I'm sure you'll be successful.
WISE: I'd like to say something. Bill is operating at a much higher, more sophisticated level of student than I am. And for the undergraduates, the job market is extremely scary. It's not good, right? Now, even before COVID, well, I had the benefit of spending my first eight years as a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. And that is a place to go to get a good job. It's an amazing network, right? And so I brought some of those skills with me to USC. So here are the three—what did you call them—soft things I'm working on. I have banned the words "like," "uh," "you know." If people are giving a presentation I will stop it on Zoom and say, "like alert," "you know alert," "you really have to clean that up." The second thing is don't be putting weird stuff out on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. I mean, that can really follow you into the job market. There's numerous instances in, you know, the New York Times and the LA Times of students that something they wrote when they were, you know, seventeen comes back to them at twenty-two and really hurts them. The other thing, now this is California, trying to keep the tattoos, like, not on your neck and not visible. Or if you're going to get the big tattoos, please stay away from your neck and your face. But also, you know, wear long sleeves if they're on your arms. I make every single undergraduate student produce a writing sample that they can take on the job market and a resume. We've got a resume service, but I don't like what they're doing. So they have to have a resume and a writing sample, they have to clean up their diction, avoid these weird tattoos, and pretty much just cool it on social media.
MCRAVEN: Carol, how are you surviving in California?
WISE: You have no idea.
MCRAVEN: I want to come take your class.
WISE: I haven't even gotten to the skateboards and the electronic scooters they try—
MCRAVEN: I'm with you. I'm with you.
ZAPPILE: I'm going to move it over to Masoud as the moderator with some strange tattoos I admit to. [laughs] I'll turn it over to Masoud to talk about soft skills on your campus.
KAVOOSSI: Yes, because the tail end of this question was in the global marketplace. So I look at it not from the U.S. but also to make you presentable somewhere else. And I have five F's. Five F's that they need to understand. They're all culture sensitive, so they have to understand the culture, the content of the culture, and the context of the culture they're going to. It's firm, flexible, fave, friendly, and fun. If they can handle that, they'll work. But they have to understand the cultural context of every place they go. Fairness means different things to you and I and somewhere else in Pakistan where I've lived, or in Afghanistan where I've lived, and so forth and so on. So those are the kinds of things that I would suggest, and I have sort of built it into my syllabus, core competencies.
ZAPPILE: Thank you. So I would like to take the opportunity to highlight one of the questions in the chat that I think is critically important for us to grapple with. And the question is "are developments like the #MeToo movement, sexual abuse in the military,” and I would include UN peacekeeping in there as well, “or the rise of white supremacist movements in the United States and abroad, too, how are those relevant to international relations and domestic foreign policy? And how do we incorporate them into our syllabi, into our classes, into discussions with students? And is the critical approach the best way to address that?" But I do think that that's a good question for us to end on as we think about incorporating CFR resources and other directions we might want to go in in terms of focusing on the critically important issues right now.
MCRAVEN: Tina, if I can jump in there? Yes, interesting enough when we do the scenarios, as I said, sitting around the table, of course, you've got the soft power in the secretary of state, the hard power in defense, the legal, the economic, and so once they kind of get a handle on that then we do a speed round. And the speed round hits those issues. The students have no idea what's coming, but I have them sitting around the table and I say, "Okay, you are a university president. Your football team is about to go to the national championship, and your coach has just had a sexual misconduct allegation levied against them. What are you going to do? You got five minutes to come up with an answer." And so, we've also had the issue of you're the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You are sitting in front of Congress and a senator gets up and says, "I was sexually assaulted when I was in this service. How are you going to deal with that?" So to the person's question, you bet. Because these are the, again, what I'm trying to teach here is not necessarily about national security. It's about how to make decisions in a complex environment, and nothing gets more complex than how we see things like the #MeToo movement and these other social movements that seem to be confounding us at every turn. We've got to be able to grapple with those. Understanding how to make those decisions and work through them is important, very important.
ZAPPILE: Do either of our other two panelists want to weigh in on that question?
KAVOOSSI: I just want to say in addition to Bill, it may not be directly related to the question. I think we need to train our students to learn online. We need to give them workshops and have them learn how to learn online. We expect them to simply perform. We're talking always about the professors how can we teach. How can we—no, we need to see what are the best ways that they can learn. Psychologists tell us their six different ways of learning. Which one is most appropriate for online learning? None of our students go through any sorts of workshops to learn how to learn online.
ZAPPILE: That's a good point. Professional development for students of all ages, diverse professional development for all ages and abilities and skills.
WISE: One final thing. So, thank God for #MeToo because my campus was in the dark ages. The former dean of the, you know, Marshall School of Business at USC was recently fired because he had more than fifty sexual harassment complaints pending at our Office of Equity and Diversity. He had not attended to any of them. He claims he didn't know about it. I personally, on behalf of female students, have filed so many Title IX complaints, which is the title under the Department of Education rules, which deals with sex harassment, male or female, right? And it's, "Oh, well, you know. Oh, how do we really know that happened?" The student recorded it, and he got fired. He got fired. That was a huge breakthrough for us. Because, you know, if you've got an atmosphere in the classroom where, you know, old guys are telling dirty jokes about female students, which they do, and you know, all the men laugh, it's pathetic. It's really pathetic. So I think that, you know, we had one of the worst Title IX records in the country. That’s hard to achieve, right? In other words, just ignoring sexual harassment complaints repeatedly. And so that has really been a big boost for us, but you cannot let up on the pressure. This stuff is still going on. And, you know, it only relates to IR for me because these are IR majors that I'm protecting or I will go to the carpet to defend. But you cannot let up on these things. And it's still very prevalent in the academy. And the only way to, you know, do anything about it is to just fire people that engage in it and perpetuate it. The dean was shocked, as were a number of other deans, who quickly cleaned up their act.
ZAPPILE: Thanks for weighing in. Again, I think this is a critically important question. And I want to bring back not just gender issues, but issues of race as well and national origin. I think those are big questions that our field is grappling with. So I really appreciate the audience raising this. I want to take time to thank all the panelists for talking about your experiences in the classroom on all sorts of issues and how you engage students with CFR resources and some of the directions that CFR might go in the future to address some of these challenges. So thank you very much and I'll turn it over to the CFR staff for our transition.