International Relations

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    Higher Education Webinar: The Role of Joint Venture Universities in China
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    Denis F. Simon, senior adviser to the president for China affairs and professor of the practice at Duke University, leads a conversation on the role of joint venture universities in China.   FASKIANOS: Thank you and welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I am Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic, if you would like to share it with your colleagues. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Denis Simon with us to talk about the role of joint venture universities in China. Dr. Simon is senior advisor to the president for China affairs and professor of the practice at Duke University. From 2015 to 2020, he served as executive vice chancellor at Duke Kunshan University in China. He has more than four decades of experience studying business, competition, innovation, and technology strategy in China, and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He served as senior advisor on China and global affairs at Arizona State University, vice provost for international affairs at the University of Oregon, and professor of international affairs at Penn State University. He has extensive leadership experience in management consulting and is the author of several books. Dr. Simon, thanks very much for being with us today. I thought we could begin by having you give us an overview of joint venture universities in China. What has the last two years in U.S.-Sino relations and COVID-19 meant for joint venture universities and their long-term goals? SIMON: Great. Well, thank you, Irina. I really am happy your team was able to arrange this. And I can’t think of a more important subject right now. The president of Duke University, Vincent Price, has called our joint venture a beacon of light in the midst of the turbulence in U.S.-China relations. And so, this is a rather appropriate time for us to take stock at where this venture is and where it may be going. So let me just give an overview, talk a little bit about what joint ventures are, how they operate, and some of the challenges of operating them, and some of the effects of the last, as you said, two years, with the tensions growing in U.S.-China relations. Well, I think the first thing to recognize is that while there are over two thousand joint venture projects and initiatives involving foreign schools and universities, there are really only ten joint venture universities. These are campuses authorized to give two degrees—a Chinese degree and a foreign degree. The last one that was approved is Julliard, from the United States. So there are four U.S. joint ventures, two from the U.K., one from Russia, one from Israel involving the Technion, and the rest from Hong Kong. And so they’re not growing by leaps and bounds. Everyone is taking stock of how they are working. The one from Duke is a liberal arts or a research-oriented university, and I think the same can be said for NYU Shanghai also in the same category. Joint venture universities are legal Chinese entities. This is very important. So, for example, our campus at Duke is not a branch campus. It is a legal Chinese entity. The chancellor must be a Chinese citizen, because they represent the legal authority of the university within the Chinese law, and also the Chinese education system. We are liberal arts oriented. The one involving Russia and Israel are polytechnic. They’re more for engineering. Kean University, which is the State University of New York, has a very big business-oriented program. The U.K. programs also have very big programs. So some are liberal arts, like Duke, but others are also polytechnic. So they span the gamut. And finally, these are in many cases engines for economic development. In the cities in which they occur, these universities are sort of like Stanford in Silicon Valley. They’re designed to act as a magnet to attract talent, and also to train young people, some of whom hopefully will stay in the region and act as a kind of entrepreneurial vanguard in the future as they go forward.   Now, the reality is that they’ve been driven by a number of factors common to both the Chinese side and the foreign side. One is just the whole process of campus internationalization. U.S. universities, for example, over the last five to ten years have wanted to expand their global footprint. And setting up a campus in X country, whether it’s been in the Middle East or been in China in this case, has been an important part of the statement about how they build out a global university. A second driver has been government regulation. So in China in 2003, the government set in place a series of regulations that allowed joint venture universities to be established. And I think we need to give kudos to the Ministry of Education in China because they had the vision to allow these kinds of universities to be set up. And I think the impact so far has been very positive. And then finally, they’re a vehicle for building out what I would call transnational collaborative research. And that is that they’re a vehicle for helping to promote collaboration between, let’s say, the United States and China in areas involving science and technology, and their very, very important role in that. That’s why I said we’re not just a liberal arts university, but we are a research-oriented liberal arts university. And I think that NYU Shanghai, Nigbo and Nottingham, et cetera, they all would claim the same space in that regard. Now, why would a city like Kunshan want to have a joint venture university? After all, Kunshan is rather unique. It’s one of the wealthiest cities in China, the largest site of Taiwan foreign investment, but it never has had its own university. So somebody in the leadership did, in fact, read the book about Silicon Valley and Stanford. And they decided, I think it was a McKinsey study that helped them make that decision, that they needed to have a university. And the opportunity to work with Duke was there. And it’s a little bit a long, complicated story, but we’ve ended up where we are today with a university which now will embark on the second phase of having a new campus. But this clearly, for Kunshan, has been a magnet for talent, and an effort to help Kunshan transition from a factory to the world economy to a new knowledge economy, consistent where—with where Xi Jinping and the Chinese leadership wants to take China during the current period, and into the future. It also provides a great bridge for connectivity between the high-tech knowledge communities in North Carolina, and particularly around Research Triangle, and the companies in the Kunshan area. And that bridge at some times or others can be very vibrant, and there are people and activity moving across it. And it’s also a place where internationalization of Kunshan gets promoted through the visibility of Duke. Every year during my five years, we had 2,000-plus visitors come to our university, both from abroad and from within China, to understand: What do these universities mean and what’s going to happen to them? Now, for Duke, a lot of people think it’s about the money. They think that these joint venture campuses make a lot of money. And I can tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. This is not about money. This is about, as I mentioned before, internationalization. But it’s also about the opportunity for pedagogical innovation. You can imagine that in existing universities there’s a lot of baggage, lots of legacy systems. You don’t get virgin territory to do curricular reform and to introduce a lot of edgy ideas. Too many vested interests. But within an opportunity like DKU or NYU Shanghai, you get a white piece of paper and you can develop a very innovative, cutting-edge kind of curriculum. And that’s exactly what has been done. And so you get a kind of two-way technology transfer, obviously from Duke to DKU, but also interestingly from DKU back to Duke. And the same thing again happens with these other universities as well. And I think that’s important. So there’s a great deal of benefit that can accrue to Duke simply by having this campus and watching it go through this kind of evolving development of a new curriculum. Now, we must not forget, these ten joint ventures, and particularly in the context of Sino-U.S. relations, are not all that’s there. Starting with Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and its relationship with Nanjing University, the United States has had projects like this going on in China. There are joint colleges. So, for example, the University of Pittsburgh and Sichuan University have one in engineering. And similarly, Michigan and Jiao Tong University also have similar kinds of ventures. And these all seem to be working very nicely. And then there’s a whole array of two-plus-two programs, three-plus-two programs. All of these are part of a broad landscape of educational engagement that exists between the two countries. It is much more extensive than anyone could have imagined in the late 1970s, when the two countries signed the bilateral agreement. Now, what are some of the things that happen when you manage these joint venture universities? First, let me mention the operational issues that come across. So you probably, you know, ask: How do you find your partner? Well, in a joint venture university, you must have an educational partner. So for Duke, it’s Wuhan University. For NYU Shanghai, it’s East China Normal University. And for Kean University it’s Wenzhou University. And you go through these—finding these partners, and the partners hopefully form a collaborative relationship. But I can tell you one of the problems, just like in all joint ventures in China, is the sleeping in the same bed but with two different dreams phenomenon. Duke came to China to bring a liberal arts education and to serve as a platform for knowledge transfer across the Chinese higher education landscape. Kunshan wanted a Stanford that can provide commercializable knowledge that can turn into new products, new services, and hopefully new businesses. And so they kind of exist in parallel with one another, with the hope that somewhere along the future they will—they will come together. Another issue area is the issue of student recruitment. Student recruitment is very complex in China because of the reliance on the gaokao system. And the gaokao system introduces an element of rigidity. And the idea of crafting a class, which is very common in liberal arts colleges, is almost impossible to do because of the rather rigid and almost inflexible approach one must take to evaluating students, scoring them, and dealing with a whole array of provincial quotas that make X numbers of students available to attend your university versus other universities. And don’t forget, these joint venture universities exist in the context of over 2,000 Chinese universities, all of whom are trying to recruit the students. So you get intense involvement not only from the officials in the province level, but also Chinese parents. And the idea of Chinese parents make helicopter parents in the U.S. look like amateur hour. They are very, very involved and very, very active. A third area are home campus issues that we have to think about. And that is that a lot of people have always said to me: Wow, you know, the Chinese side must give you a big headache. And with all due respect to all my dear colleagues and friends, I can say also sometimes I got a headache from the Duke side as well. And I think anyone who sits in these kind of leadership positions must figure out how to balance the interests and the perspectives of the home country campus and the host country campus, and their ability to work together. And there are a lot of issues that come up along the way that make it very, very complex. And in particular, the idea of attracting faculty. Seventy-five percent of our faculty are hired locally. That is, they are in tenure or tenure-track jobs by Duke-Kunshan University. Twenty-five percent must be supplied by Duke. The reason is very simple: The Chinese authorities want to make sure that the quality of the education is no different than what’s offered at Duke. And because we have to give two degrees, a Chinese degree and a Duke degree, that Duke degree is not a Duke-B degree, or a Duke-lite degree. It is the same degree that you get at Duke University, signed by the head of the board of trustees, the president, the provost, et cetera, et cetera. So this is a real Duke degree. It’s not Duke-lite. The fourth thing I want to mention, which I mentioned before slightly, which is money. These are not inexpensive ventures. And they also are a kind of elite education. And the degree to which they can be replicated over and over again in China is something that remains to be—remains to be seen. We’ve had a lot of people coming from Congress who have looked at these joint venture universities and said, ah, you’re selling out American values and academic freedom or religious freedom, in return for a big payday. And as I said, that’s simply just not the case. These joint venture universities are very difficult to run. You must pay faculty according to the global faculty prices. And plus, there are lots of expat benefits that you have to pay to them. The tuition rates that you can charge to Chinese students are set by the provincial authorities. And therefore, in our case, they’re about 50 percent less than what international students have to pay. And so already you’re in a deficit, technically speaking, because Chinese students are getting a, you know, preferential price. Also, the idea of building up a research capability is not inexpensive, particularly if you’re looking at developing a capability in science and engineering. These are, again, very expensive propositions. Now, I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all hardship. There are lots of rewarding moments. I think, as I said, the pedagogical side is one of those. And also the opportunity to really build true cross-cultural understanding among young people has been very important. Now, let me just make a couple of comments about where we are in terms of the last two years in particular. No one—you know, when our joint venture was formed, and similarly for the other ones which were formed before ours—could have envisioned what was going to happen, particularly in terms of the U.S.-China trade war, the onset of the protests in Hong Kong, and the issues—human rights issues that have to do with Xinjiang, Tibet, et cetera. And also, as everyone knows, COVID also presented some amazing challenges to the campus. We had to, by late January/early February 2020, we evacuated the whole campus when COVID came. And for the last two years, all of the international students have been studying either in their home country or if they’ve been able to come to the United States, they’ve been able to study at Duke during this period. And the big question is, when are these international students going to be able to go back? Which of course, that raises the big question about what is the campus like without international students? Our campus has somewhere between 35 to 40 percent international students. NYU Shanghai has 50 percent international students. Those make for very interesting pedagogical challenges, particularly given the fact that the high school experiences of these young people from China versus all countries—you know, we have forty-one different countries represented at DKU—make for a very challenging learning environment and teaching environment. Now, a couple of the issues that really have been exacerbated over the last two years, first of all are visa issues. Delays in being able to get visas or sometimes denial of visas. Another one are the uncertainties about the campus. Many people think that as Sino-U.S. tensions have risen, OK, the Chinese side is going to shut the campus. No, no, no, the U.S. side is going to shut the campus. And there’s been the lack of clarity. And this also not only hurts student recruitment sometimes, but it also can hurt faculty recruitment as well—who are also wondering, you know, what’s going to happen in the future and what kind of security of their jobs. Most recently we’ve also had—particularly because some of the policies adopted during the Trump administration—national security issues. So we want to build a research capability. Let’s say the city of Kunshan says: We’ll support the building of a semiconductor research capability. Duke University has to say no. That technology now is a more tightly controlled technology and it’s not clear what we can and can’t do. And so some of these kind of initiatives get interrupted, can’t go forward. And everyone is very vigilant to make sure that nobody crosses the line in terms of U.S. law. And, of course, watching out for Chinese law as well. So where is this all going? I think these difficulties are going to continue. The most obvious one that everyone talks about is academic freedom, the ability to deal with these complex, controversial issues. I can say very proudly that up until this point, and at least until when I left in June of 2020, we had not had any kind of explicit intervention that stopped us from doing something, per se. We’ve had the national committee for U.S.-China relations, China town halls for several years. They didn’t have one this past year, but we’ve had it for several years. We have courses on China politics. We have courses on U.S.-China relations, et cetera. So we haven’t had that. But we’ve had to be flexible. Instead of having an open forum about Hong Kong, we created a minicourse to talk about Hong Kong. So those issues are out there. Academic freedom is a real issue that is one of those redline issues. And everyone is a little bit nervous all the time about getting into that. The other thing, of course, is the fluidity in the Chinese environment itself. We know that China continues to witness political changes, further economic reforms. And a lot of the commitments that were made, you know, five years ago, ten years ago, the ability to see them through. DKU is covered by a CEA, a cooperative educational accord, that promises academic freedom in the engagement of the university’s work on campus. Now, if you go out and throw a brick through the mayor’s window, well, all bets are off. But while you’re on campus, you should be able to have, you know, academic freedom. And this is not a political issue. This is an accreditation issue. If the pedagogy and the learning environment were to become distinctly different, the Southern States Accreditation, which accredits the Duke degrees, could not accredit the degree that’s coming out of DKU. And so there must not be any kind of significant gap or significant differentiation in order to preserve that issue of academic integrity. Now, finally, I would say—you know, looking now retrospectively, looking back at all of this, I think there’s no more important kind of initiative than these universities. Getting young people from all around the world to sit in the same classroom, engage with one another, even become uncomfortable. It’s great if they can do that when they’re eighteen to twenty-four so hopefully when they’re forty-five to fifty, they sit down and deal with these real issues, they can have some degree of understanding and some perspective of why the other side is thinking the way it does. This doesn’t happen automatically on these campuses. There’s a lot of orchestration and a lot of fostering of activity. But I would just say that he ability and the opportunity to do this makes this, and makes all of these joint ventures, really exciting opportunities that have larger impact than just the campus on which they sit. And let me stop here. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. That was really a terrific overview. And you really brought your experience to the table. Thank you. So let’s go to all of you now for your questions, comments. You can either raise your hand by clicking on the “raise hand” icon, or you can type your question in the Q&A box. Please include your affiliation so I can read it. And when I call on you, please unmute yourself and also say who you are and your academic affiliation, so to put it in context. I’m going to go first, raised hand, to James Cousins. There we go. Q: Hi. Yeah, this is Morton Holbrook at Kentucky Wesleyan College, along with James Cousins. FASKIANOS: Great. (Laughs.) Q: And thanks very much, Dr. Simon. A great explanation. Happy to hear about academic freedom. Could I hear a little bit more about, for example, textbook choice? Do you have to submit—do professors have to submit textbook choices to the party secretary, for example? I assume there’s a party secretary there. Is there self-censorship by professors who would want to skip over Tiananmen massacre or the Taiwan issue or the South China Sea issue? Thank you. SIMON: OK. Great question. So I’m happy to say that each professor creates their own syllabus, as they would in the United States. We have three big required courses, one of which is China in the world. And it is to look at the impact of the West on China, and China’s impact on the West. And in that course, which every student has to take, we discuss very, very sensitive issues, including the Taiwan issue, including Chinese security policy, including South China Sea, et cetera, et cetera. There are some limitations on books that can be imported through the Chinese customs, because those will be controlled at the customs port. But because we have unlimited access through the internet right directly into the Duke library, any book that any instructor would like to have on their syllabus, that book is available to the students. So we do not have to report any of these teaching intentions to the party secretary. In the case of DKU, the party secretary is the chancellor. That just happened when we got a new chancellor a couple years ago. And we also have a deputy party secretary. But for the most part, they do not intervene at all in the academic affairs of the university. And the main reason for this is that the university must remain accredited for giving out both the Duke degree and the Chinese degree. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to go next to a written question from Michael Raisinghani, who is an associate professor at Texas Women’s University. And two parts. What are some things you would have done differently going forward based on your experience over the last five years? And this is also—camps onto what the prior question was—does China censor the minicourse on Hong Kong? SIMON: So let me take the second one first. The minicourse on Hong Kong was a sort of an in-place innovation. We got a directive from the government indicating that we were to have no public forum to discuss the events in Hong Kong. And we had had two students who were in Hong Kong during the summer, witness to the events that were going on. And they came back to the campus after the summer wanting to basically expose everything that went on in Hong Kong. Now, obviously we wanted this to be a learning opportunity. And so we didn’t mind, you know, talking about the media, the press, you know, who’s vantage point, et cetera. So we felt that that could be best done within a minicourse. And so we literally, in real time, created an eight-hour minicourse. We had four of our faculty put together teaching about the society and the issues in contemporary Hong Kong. And each of those classes, you know, they discussed, you know, ongoing issues. I can tell you that there were lots of PRC students attending at the beginning of the session. There were fewer by the end. And we can, you know, extrapolate why they may have pulled out. But nobody pulled out because somehow someone was holding a gun to their head and said: You ought not to be here. So, you know, there’s a lot of peer pressure about academic freedom issues. And there also is some issues about self-censorship that exist. And we try to deal with them. We try to make the academic environment extremely comfortable for everybody. But I can tell you, look, there’s parental pressure. We don’t know who the parents are of some of these kids. They may be even party officials. And so we basically, you know, let the kids determine. But we let the kids say: Look, in the classroom, all—everything goes. And I instituted a policy which I would not have changed, and that is that no cellphones in the classroom. No cellphones at major events, without explicit permission of the participants. And that means that in the class you cannot record by video or by audio what’s going on in the classroom without special permission of the—of the instructor when that’s happening. During my five years, you know, that worked very well. It raised the level of engagement by all students. And I would say people felt much more comfortable. A hundred percent comfortable? No. That wasn’t the case. There is still some uneasiness. What would I have done differently? That’s kind of a very interesting question. It kind of comes up because I’m writing a book about my experiences. I think maybe, you know, I would have tried to build more bridges with Duke earlier on. I think that Duke’s involvement in this was really what the Chinese side bought. And I think that we needed to get more Duke involvement in terms of trying to sell the DKU opportunity to the faculty. I would have become a little bit more proactive in getting them to understand the benefits of spending a semester or two semesters at DKU. I think we—that would have helped to build more political support for the DKU project back on the DKU—back on the Duke campus in the United States. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to raised hand, to Maryalice Mazzara. Q: Hi. Hello to both of you. And, Dr. Simon, great to see you. I’m here at SUNY Office of Global Affairs at SUNY Global Center. And I must say, disclaimer, I had Dr. Simon as a boss, my first boss at SUNY. And he was wonderful. So and I’ve worked a lot with China, as you know, Denis, from when we started, and continuing on. What would you say you would recommend going forward? So you just had a question about, you know, what would you have done differently in the last five years. For those of us, and all of us on the call, who are interested—very interested in U.S.-China positive relations, what would you recommend that we can do at the academic level? SIMON: So one of the things I think we need to realize is that China’s Ministry of Education is extremely committed to not only these joint venture projects, but to international engagement as a whole. During my five years, I had an extensive opportunity to interact with a number of officials from the ministry, not only at the central government level but also at the provincial government level. And despite some of the noise that we hear about China regarding self-reliance and closing the door, I think that understanding that China is open for business. It wants to see more international students come into the country. There are now about close to 500,000 international students. China wants to grow that number. You know, there are about 700,000-plus Chinese students studying abroad, 370,000 of them, or so, in the United States. The ministry is very interested. And I think that we need to basically build bridges that continue to be sustainable over time, so that we continue to engage in the educational sphere with China. And that means that perhaps it’s time for the two countries to sit down and revise, update, and reconfigure the education cooperation agreement that was signed back when Deng Xiaoping visited the United States in ’78, and then formalized in ’79. I think that we need to think about altering the rules of the road going forward so it takes into account that China is no longer a backward, or a higher-education laggard. China how has world-class universities, offering world-class curriculum. Collaboration and research between faculty in the U.S. and faculty in China is extensive. We need to make sure that initiatives, like the China initiative through the Justice Department, doesn’t take hold and basically lead to the demise or the decoupling of the two countries. Basically, the bottom line is: Keep going forward. Keep being honest with your Chinese partners and your Chinese colleagues. Let them know some of the challenges that you face. And make them feel committed to playing by the rules of the game. And we have to do the same on our side. And if we can do that, I think that the basis for collaboration is not only there, but the basis for expanded collaboration is very real and can help, hopefully, over the long term overcome some of the difficulties and the tensions that we face because of lack of understanding and lack of trust that currently plagues the relationship. FASKIANOS: Great. The next question is from Emily Weinstein, who is a research fellow at Georgetown University. Curious about issues associated with intellectual property. Since JV universities are Chinese legal entities, in the case of DKU does Duke maintain the IP or is it the independent DKU entity? SIMON: Well, right now let’s assume that the faculty member is a permanent member of the DKU faculty. Then that faculty member, in conjunction with the Chinese regulatory environment, would own a piece of that IP. The university doesn’t have a technology transfer office, like you would see at Duke in the United States, or Stanford, or NYU, et cetera. And I think that probably no one really can see that there would be, you know, just a lot of new IP coming out of this. But I think that now, given the momentum that’s been built up in some of these areas, I think that that is an issue. And I think that that’s something that will get decided. But right now, it’s a local issue. The only way that would be different is if a faculty member from Duke came over, participated in a research project, and then laid claim. China has a—(inaudible)—kind of law in place. And of course, we know the United States does. That would tend to be the basis for a sharing of the IP. And I think that was the basic notion going forward, that as a joint venture whatever came out of these collaborative research engagements, they would be on a shared IP basis. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Wenchi Yu, who has raised a raised hand. Q: Hi. Thank you. Hi, Denis, good to see you again. A question about—first of all, just a small comment about China still welcoming collaboration internationally at higher ed. I think that’s been the case for a couple years. The question now is not so much about their will, but more how, right? So in order to collaborate in a way that neither side compromises our own values and principles, I think that’s more of the key question. So I think moving forward if you can just maybe go deeper on this point. How can we really collaborate without, you know, feeling that we’re making too much of a compromise? And the second related is, I think what we’re seeing in terms of the change of attitude is not just at higher ed level. You and I have talked about K-12 as well. It’s also been extremely difficult for international schools as well as online education to even, you know, try to connect students with anything international, whether it’s curriculum or, you know, international foreign tutors, educators. So, I mean, do you think, you know, this will impact higher ed? You know, and what is your interpretation of Ministry of Education’s attitude? And, you know, how much is what local officials can actually be flexible when it comes to implementation of those bigger policies? SIMON: So I think one of the—one of the challenges I didn’t get to mention, but I’ll talk about it now, is this issue of homogenization. I think that the Ministry of Education, because of its general approach to curriculum and things of that sort, would like all universities basically to operate very similarly and that there’s not a whole bunch of outliers in the system. The special provisions for these joint venture universities are indeed just that, they’re very special, they’re very unique. And in fact, just like lots of regulation in China, they couldn’t cover the entire waterfront of all the operating, all the administrative, and even all the political issues that might come across. And so many of these, the CEA agreement, or the equivalent of that, was signed, you know, are very unique to those nine or ten joint venture universities. And they—as you know, in China just because you sided with Duke doesn’t mean that if you’re up next you’re going to get the same terms and conditions. And I think that right now because of the tensions in the relationship, it would be difficult to actually replicate exactly what Duke, and NYU, and some of the other universities had, particularly because of the very pronounced way academic freedom issues had been—had been dealt with. But I think that each of our universities is very clear about the red lines that exist regarding issues as sensitive, like academic freedom. In other words, there are very few issues that would invite the kind of deliberation about potential withdrawal, but academic freedom is one of those. Religious freedom, in terms of what goes on on the campus is another issue. Again, the campus is sort of like a protected territory in the way an embassy would be, in many ways. And it’s not exactly the same. It doesn’t have that legal status. But what I’m suggesting here in terms of the operating environment is sort of like that. So up till now, we’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t felt the full brunt, you know, of some of the political tightening that some Chinese universities have experienced. And so we’ve been pretty—the situation has been pretty good for all of us. But I think that part of the problem is that we were dealing with China in a very asymmetrical, hierarchical kind of manner in the past. And that is that the gap between the two countries was very large in capability, particularly in education and higher education. And therefore, it was from the haves—Europe, the United States, et cetera—to the have-no country. That’s no longer the case. And so therefore, that’s why I think that in order to get more accommodation from the Chinese side, we have to bring China much more to the table as a co-equal. And as China sits at that table, then we have to secure commitments to say: Look, we commit to doing this when we’re in China. You have to commit to doing this, whether it’s regarding IP theft, whether it’s regarding the censorship of Chinese students in the United States, whether it’s all other kinds of things that we know are problems. And at the same time, as many U.S. university leaders have done, we promised to protect our Chinese students, that they don’t become the object of attack because we have a kind of anti-China, you know, fervor going through the country, and somehow these students are going to be, you know, experiencing some problems. This is a very difficult period. But I don’t see how we can continue to go forward based on a document, or set of documents, that were signed forty-plus years ago. I think we need to begin to consider, both in education and in science and technology, to sign a new agreement that looks at new rules of the game, reflecting the different status of the countries now versus what it was forty years ago. FASKIANOS: I’m going to ask the next question from Qiang Zha from York University in Toronto, Canada. Two questions: A rise in nationalism and patriotism can be observed among Chinese young generations. How is it going to impact the JVs in China? And whether and now the JVs in China impact the country’s innovation capacity and performance. SIMON: So it seems that there’s two questions there. Let me respond. Professor Cheng Li, who’s at Brookings Institution, has just written a very interesting article about this growing patriotism and even anti-Americanism among young Chinese, that I would recommend. And it’s a very important article, because I think we had assumed in the past that young Chinese are very global, they’re cosmopolitan, they dress the dress, they walk the talk, they listen to the same music. But I think that what’s going on in the country especially over the last ten years is an effort to say, look, you know, stop worshiping Western things and start attaching greater value to things Chinese. And I think that that’s sort of had an impact. And I think when you go and look at a classroom discussion at a place like DKU, where you have students from forty different countries talking about a common issue, Chinese students tend to band together and be very protective of China. I think that’s just a common reaction that they have. Now, in a—as a semester goes on, a few of them will break away a bit from those kind of—you know, that rigidity, and open their minds to alternative ways to thinking about problems and issues, and particularly in terms of Chinese behavior. And I know that I’ve advised a number of students on projects, papers, et cetera. And I’m almost in awe of the fact of the degree to which they in fact have broken away from the old molds and old stereotypes that they had when they entered the program back in 2018. So this is part of a process that occurs over time. And I think it’s something that we have to have some patience about. But I am worried. And I’ll just give you an example. You know, a young Chinese student comes to the United States, has their visa. They get to immigration in the United States, and they’re turned back all of a sudden and they’re forced to go home. No apparent reason, but somebody thinks they’re up to no good, or they don’t—they weren’t from the right, you know, high school, or whatever is the case. We’ve got to really be careful that we don’t start to alienate not only young Chinese—which I think that’s a big problem—but also Chinese American faculty and staff who are at our universities, who now feel that they’re not trusted or they’re under suspicion for doing something wrong. And I know in conversations that I have had with numerous of these people who have talked about should I go back, should I go to a third country? If I’m not in the U.S., should I be in—you know, in Europe? What’s a good place for me to go, because I don’t feel good—nor does my family feel good—now in the United States. We have created a big problem that’s going to have a very negative effect on our talent needs in the 21st century. And that includes young Chinese who would come to the United States for advanced education and hopefully stay here when they get their doctorates, or whatever degree they came for, and Chinese Americans who are here who have been loyal, who have been hardworking, who now feel that somehow they are not trusted any longer. And we’re in a big dilemma right now at this point in time. And I think that my experience at this JV university says, look, as I said, it doesn’t happen naturally that there’s a kumbaya moment that everyone gets together and hugs and is on the same wavelength. There’s a lot of intense discussion among these young people that we must recognize. But hopefully, through the process of being put together and making friends and building trust, they can begin to open their minds for different perspectives and different ideas. And I think that if DKU, or NYU Shanghai, or these other campuses are going to be successful, they must continue to push in that direction. Not to close the door, pull the shades down, and simply hide. But they must be open. And one of the things at DKU, all of our events, open—are open. Our China town halls, we invited officials from Suzhou and Kunshan to come and listen to whether it was Henry Kissinger or somebody else who was—Ray Dalio, who was on, or Fareed Zakaria. They’re all the same thing, we invited people to come to listen and to have an open mind to these kind of events. So I think that we are a beacon of light in the midst of a turbulence. I think President Price’s comment is very apropos to what this represents. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take two written questions. The first is from Peggy Blumenthal, who is senior counselor to the president at the Institute of International Education. Do you see a difference in the kinds of Chinese students who enroll in Duke-Kushan versus those who applied to study in Duke in North Carolina? Are they less from elite political families and less wealthy families? And do you have any students from Taiwan or Hong Kong? And then a second question from GianMario Besana, who’s at DePaul University, the associate provost for global engagement. How is faculty governance handled? Are faculty teaching at the JV tenured as Duke faculty? SIMON: OK. So, yes, we have students from Taiwan. And we don’t always get students from Hong Kong, but we’re open to having students from Hong Kong. So there is no limit. The only thing is, and I’ll mention this, that all Chinese students, PRC students, must have a quote/unquote “political” course. And that course has been revised sharply by our partner at Wuhan University to make it much more of a Chinese history and culture course. The students from Taiwan must take that course. Now, they don’t want to take it and they reject the idea of taking it, but that’s a requirement. And so they do take it. But I can assure you, the one that we have is much softer than some of the things that go on at other Chinese Universities. In terms of the caliber of the students, one thing is very clear. As the reputation of places like DKU and NYU Shanghai, et cetera, have grown, the differentiation between who applies to the U.S. campus and who applies to the DKU campus, that differentiation is getting smaller and smaller. And the reason is very simple: we cannot have a two-track system if we’re giving a Duke degree to the students graduating at DKU, and the same thing for NYU Shanghai. We must have near equivalency. And we have a very strong requirement in terms of English language capability. We don’t trust, frankly, TOEFL. And we don’t trust, you know, some of the other mechanism. We now deploy specialized versions of language testing so we can ensure that the quality of the language is strong enough so at the beginning of the engagement on campus, when they matriculate, they are able to hit the ground running. And that helps a great deal. In terms of faculty governance, the faculty in place, you know, at DKU, as far as I know, are able to—in effect, they meet as a faculty. There’s an academic affairs committee. We have a vice chancellor for academic affairs who oversees the faculty engagement, in effect. And the faculty do have a fairly loud voice when there are certain things that they don’t like. There’s a Chinese tax policy is changing. That’s going to have a big impact on their compensation. They’ve made their concerns well known to the leadership. If they don’t like a curriculum that is being, you know, put in place and they want to change it, they will advocate, you know, to redo some of the curriculum that has been done, and also alter the requirements. So their voice is heard loudly and strongly. But it’s through the vice chancellor for academic affairs to the executive vice chancellor of the campus. It doesn’t necessarily go through the chancellor. And I don’t mean to suggest that there’s full compartmentation of the Chinese side. But there are certain things in which we closely operate together and joint decision making. And then there are things in which basically, at least up to my time, the engagement was a little lighter on the academic side and more intense on the operational side. And I think that that was the model that we had hoped to sustain from the beginning. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to take the next question from David Moore from Broward College in Florida. Do you know of any issues the Chinese have with required courses at Duke in U.S. history or U.S. government/political science? And just to give context, he writes, Florida has recently imposed a new required test in civic literacy, which has questions related to the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and major Supreme Court cases. Next year students in China will need to take this test in order to graduate. Are you aware of any such requirements imposed by other states? SIMON: So I’m not aware right now that North Carolina, for example, has this kind of requirement. But I can tell you that we do teach courses about American government, American society, American culture. In other words, American studies gets a full, you know, treatment, if that’s what your major is or that’s something that you choose to study. Now, like many places, even on a U.S. campus, except from what you’ve just told me, I mean, you could go through an entire university education without doing American studies whatsoever. But I think from what I’m hearing from you, that’s not going to be the case in Florida now. (Laughs.) We don’t—we haven’t had that problem. The only requirement, as I said, is on the Chinese side, that Chinese students must have this one course on Chinese history and culture, and they also must have military service. They do this short-term summer military training that they must go through. And I’ve gone to the graduation. It’s a—it’s kind of fascinating to watch it. But, you know, it’s something that’s for bonding purposes. And, you know, that makes China different. Remember, this is not an island existing, you know, in the middle of in the entire China. In some ways, the campus and the fact that we’re in China become part of the same reality. It is not the case—you know, we can’t be an island unto ourselves. That’s when I think real problems would occur. I think the more that we can integrate and understand what’s going on in the larger societal context, it’s important for our students, particularly the international students who come. And the international students are such a critical element because they represent an alternative perspective on the world that they bring into the classroom, as does our international faculty bring new ideas into the classroom. And those are what basically can open up the minds of our Chinese students. We’re not here to make Chinese students think like Americans. We’re here to raise global awareness. That’s all we want to do. We want to give them alternatives and options and different perspectives on the world, and then let them make up their mind. Let them decide what’s the right, or wrong, or comfortable way to think about an issue, and then feel that on this campus and then, you know, further on in their lives, they have the power and they have the capacity to think for themselves. And that’s why—just one point I want to make—critical thinking is such an important part of our pedagogy. How to think critically and independently about issues and express yourself in a lucid fashion are part of what we call seven animating features that we want with each of our graduates. And another one is something called rooted globalism. And that is the ability to understand your own roots, but also the ability to understand the roots of others, and bring that to bear as you begin to look at a problem like: Why do these two countries have different views on climate change? Or why do they think different—so differently about handling pandemics, or handling even things like facial recognition and video surveillance? We have one professor who studies this, and he and I have had many numerous conversations about how to involve Chinese students in these discussions, so they don’t feel intimidated, but get exposed to these kinds of debates that are going on. Now issues like what’s the future of AI, in which we’re looking at moral, ethical issues that face societies—all societies, not just American or Chinese society—and how do these get worked out? These are what the opportunities are that we can accomplish in these kind of joint venture environments. FASKIANOS: A next question from Lauren Sinclair. I’m administrator and faculty at NYU Shanghai. I’m very interested in the notion of pedagogical reciprocity and cross-cultural exchange. Do you see any evidence that this is occurring? Do you have qualitative or quantitative measures through institutional or student-level surveys? SIMON: So this occurs—this kind of what I call knowledge transfer occurs because we do have, as I mentioned, 25 percent of the faculty on the campus at any time are Duke or Duke-affiliated faculty. So when we are doing things on the campus at DKU, there are Duke faculty who are exposed to these experiences, they get to hear the students’ presentations, et cetera, et cetera. They’re part of the discussions about the curriculum. And I can tell you that the Duke curriculum and the DKU curriculum are different in many respects, ours being much more highly interdisciplinary, for example. And we have a project called Signature Work. When our students do this, they get a chance to spend—under normal situation, not COVID—but a semester at Duke. And during that semester at Duke, that also serves as a vehicle for the students to bring with them the things that they’ve learned, and the way that they’ve learned them. And we also have vehicles for our faculty in certain cases to spend time at Duke as well. And one best example I have to give you is the COVID experience. DKU was online by March of 2020. With the help of Duke’s educational technology people we started delivering curriculum to our students in March, April, May, so that they could finish their semester. Quickly, by time June rolled around, Duke, as well as all sorts of U.S. universities, were faced with the dilemma of how to go online. The experience of DKU in handling the online delivery to students who were located all over the world, and the Duke need to be prepared to do that, had great benefit to Duke when it tried to implement its own online programs. That experience was very positive. The synergies captured from that were very positive. And I think that this serves as a reminder that knowledge and information can go in both directions. You mentioned cross-cultural. And again, I think the more faculty we can get to come and have an experience in China, and that they bring back with them the learning that’s occurred, we’ve seen that now get transported back to Duke, and delivered in Duke classrooms based on the experience that they’ve had in China. FASKIANOS: Well, this has been a fantastic hour. Thank you very much. We are at the end of our time. It came, alas, too quickly, and I could not get to all the questions. So my apologies. But we will send around the link to this webinar, the transcript, and other resources that Dr. Simon has mentioned. So, Denis, thank you very much for doing this. We really appreciate it. SIMON: My pleasure. And thank you for having me. FASKIANOS: And we will be having our next Higher Education webinar in January 2022. So this is the last one for this year. And we will send an invitation under separate cover. As always, I encourage you to follow @CFR_Academic on Twitter and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for more resources. I’m wishing you all luck with your finals, grading, all of that, wonderful things that you have to do as faulty and as academics. And hope you enjoy the holidays. And of course, stay well and stay safe. And we look forward to reconvening in the new year. (END)
  • Energy and Climate Policy
    Academic Webinar: Energy Policy and Efforts to Combat Climate Change
    Play
    Jason Bordoff, cofounding dean, Columbia Climate School, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy, and professor of professional practice in international and public affairs at Columbia University, leads a conversation on energy policy and efforts to combat climate change.   FASKIANOS: Welcome to today’s session of the CFR Fall 2021 Academic Webinar Series. I am Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record. And the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have with us today Jason Bordoff to talk about energy policy and efforts to combat climate change. Jason Bordoff is cofounding dean of the Columbia Climate School, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy, and professor of professional practice in international and public affairs at Columbia University. He previously served as special assistant to President Obama and senior director for energy and climate change on the National Security Council, and he has held senior policy positions on the White House’s National Economic Council and Council on Environmental Quality. He is a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and is often on TV and radio. So, we’re really happy to have him with us today. So, Jason, thank you very much. We are just coming off the COP26 conference that took place in Glasgow that started on October 31, I believe, and concluded last Friday, November 12. Could you talk about what came out of the conference at a high level, if you think that the agreements that were reached went far enough or didn’t go far enough, and what your policy recommendations are to really advance and fight the countdown that we have to the Earth warming? BORDOFF: Yeah. Thanks. Well, first, thanks to you, Irina, and thanks to CFR for the invitation to be with you all today. Really delighted to have the chance to talk about these important issues. I was there for much of the two-week period in Glasgow representing the Energy Center and the Climate School here at Columbia. I think it’s kind of a glass half-full/glass half-empty outlook coming out of Glasgow. So I think the Glasgow conference was notable in several respects. We’ll look back on it, I think, and some of the things we will remember are—some of the things we’ll remember—(dog barking)—sorry—are the role of the private sector and private finance, I think, was much more prominent in Glasgow this year. I think there were commitments around some important things like methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, was much higher on the priority list in this U.N. climate meeting than in prior ones. You had pledges on deforestation and other things that are important. And then the final agreement did have some important elements to it, particularly around Article 6, how you design carbon markets around the world. But the glass half-empty outlook is still we are nowhere close to being on track for the kind of targets that countries and companies are committing to: net zero by 2050 or 1.5 degrees of warming. I think there were—there should be hope and optimism coming out of COP. The role of the youth—at Columbia, we were honored to organize a private roundtable for President Obama with youth climate activists. It’s hard to spend time with young people in COP or on campus here at Columbia or anywhere else and not be inspired by how passionately they take these issues. So the activism you saw in the streets, the sense of urgency among everyone—activists, civil society, governments, the private sector—felt different, I think, at this COP than other COPs that I have attended or probably the ones I haven’t attended. But there was also for some I saw kind of we’re coming out of this and we’re on track for below two degrees. Or, you know, Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, tweeted that when you add up all the pledges we’re on track for 1.8 degrees Celsius warming. He’s talking about all of the pledges meaning every country who’s promised to be net zero by 2050, 2060, 2070, and at least from my standpoint there’s a good reason to take those with a grain of salt. They’re not often backed up by concrete plans or ideas about how you would get anywhere close to achieving those goals. So it’s good that we have elevated ambition, which is kind of one of the core outcomes of the COP in Glasgow. But it is also the case that when you elevate ambition and the reality doesn’t change as fast or maybe faster than the ambition is changing, what you have is a growing gap between ambition and reality. And I think that’s where we are today. Oil use is rising each and every year. Gas use is rising. Coal use is going up this year. I don’t know if it’s going to keep going up, but at a minimum it’s going to plateau. It’s not falling off a cliff. So the reality of the energy world today—which is 75 percent of emissions are energy—is not anything close to net zero by 2050. It is the case that progress is possible. So if you go back to before the Paris agreement, we were on track for something like maybe 3.7 degrees Celsius of warming. If you look at a current outlook, it’s maybe 2.7, 2.8 (degrees), so just below three degrees. So progress is possible. That’s good. If you look at the nationally determined contribution pledges—so the commitments countries made that are more near term, more accountability for them; the commitments they made to reduce emissions by 2030, their NDCs—we would be on track for about 2.4 degrees Celsius warming, assuming all those pledges are fulfilled. But history would suggest a reason to be a little skeptical about that. The U.S. has a pledge to get to a 50 to 52 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, and look at how things are working or not working in Washington and make your own judgment about how likely it is that we’ll put in place the set of policies that would be required to get to that ambitious level of decarbonization by 2030. And I think the same healthy dose of skepticism is warranted when you look elsewhere in the world. But even if we achieve all of those, we’re still falling short of below two degrees, nevertheless 1.5 (degrees). And so, again, I think the outcome from COP for me was optimism that progress is possible—we have made a lot of progress in the last ten years—but acute concern that we’re nowhere close to being on track to take targets like 1.5 degrees Celsius or net zero by 2050 seriously. And we just need to be honest as a climate and energy community—and I live in both of those worlds; there’s a lot of overlap between them, obviously—about how hard it is to achieve the goals we are talking about. Renewables have grown incredibly quickly. Optimistic headlines every day about what is happening in solar and wind. Costs have come down more than 90 percent. Battery costs have come down more than 90 percent in the last decade. But solar and wind create electricity, and electricity is 20 percent of global final energy consumption. The outlook for electric vehicles is much more promising today. Lots of companies like Ford and others are committing to be all-electric by a certain date ten or twenty years from now. Cars are 20 percent of global oil demand. About half of the emission reductions—cumulative emission reductions between now and 2050 will need to come from technologies that are not yet available at commercial scale and sectors of the economy that are really hard to decarbonize like steel and cement and ships and airplanes. We’re not—we don’t have all the tools we need to do those yet. And then, in Glasgow, the focus of a lot of what we did at Columbia was on—we did a lot of different things, but one of the key areas of focus was the challenge of thinking about decarbonization in emerging and developing economies. I don’t think we talk about that enough. The issue of historical responsibility of loss and damage was more on the agenda this year, and I think you’ll hear even more about it in the year ahead. The next COP is in Africa. There was growing tension between rich and poor countries at this COP. I think a starting point was what we see in the pandemic alone and how inequitable around the world the impacts of the pandemic are. Many people couldn’t even travel to Glasgow from the Global South because they couldn’t get vaccinated. We need, between now and 2050, estimates are—a ballpark—$100 trillion of additional investment in clean energy if we’re going to get on track for 1.5 (degrees)/net zero by 2050. So the question that should obsess all of us who work in this space: Where will that money come from? Most of it’s going to be private sector, not public. Most of it is going to be in developing and emerging economies. That is where the growth in energy is going to come from. Eight hundred million people have no access to energy at all. Nevertheless, if you model what energy access means, it’s often defined as, you have enough to turn on lights or charge your cellphone. But when you talk about even a fraction of the standard of living we take for granted—driving a car, having a refrigerator, having an air conditioner—the numbers are massive. They’re just huge, and the population of Africa’s going to double to 2.2 billion by the year 2050. So these are really big numbers and we need to recognize how hard this is. But we should also recognize that it is possible. We have a lot of the tools we need. We need innovation in technology and we need stronger policy, whether that’s a carbon price or standards for different sectors. And then, of course, we need private-sector actors to step up as well, and all of us. And we have these great commitments to achieve these goals with a lot of capital being put to work, and now we need to hold people accountable to make sure that they do that. So, again, I look back on the last two weeks or before, two weeks of COP, the gap between ambition and reality got bigger. Not necessarily a bad thing—ambition is a good thing—but now it’s time to turn the ambition into action. We need governments to follow through on their pledges. Good news is we have a wide menu of options for reducing emissions. The bad news is there’s not a lot of time at our current rate of emissions. And emissions are still going up each and every year. They’re not even falling yet. Remember, what matters is the cumulative total, not the annual flow. At our current rate of emissions, the budget—carbon budget for staying below 1.5 (degrees) is used up in, around a decade or so, so there’s not much time to get to work. But I’m really excited about what we’re building with the first climate school in the country here at Columbia. When it comes to pushing—turning ambition into action, that requires research, it requires education, and it requires engaging with partners in civil society and the public sector and the private sector to help turn that research into action. And the people we’re working with here every day on campus are the ones who are going to be the leaders that are going to hopefully do a better job—(laughs)—than we’ve done over the last few decades. So whatever you’re doing at your educational institution—be it teaching or research or learning—we all have a role to play in the implementation of responsible, forward-thinking energy policy. I’m really excited to have the chance to talk with you all today. Look forward to your questions and to the conversation. Thank you again. FASKIANOS: Jason, that’s fantastic. Thank you very much for that informative and sobering view. So let’s turn to all of you now for your questions. So I’m going to go first to—I have one raised hand from Stephen Kass. Q: OK. Thank you. Jason, thank you for the very useful and concise summary. What specific kinds of energy programs do you think developing countries should now be pursuing? Should they be giving up coal entirely? Should they be importing natural gas? Should they be investing in renewables or nuclear? What recipe would you advise developing countries to pursue for their own energy needs? BORDOFF: It’s going to need to be a lot of different things, so there’s no single answer to that, of course. And by the way, I’ll just say it would be super helpful if people don’t mind just introducing yourself when you ask a question. That would be helpful to me, at least. I appreciate it. I think they need to do a lot of different things. I think I would start with low-hanging fruit, and renewable electricity is not the entire answer. The sun and wind are intermittent. Electricity can’t do certain things yet, like power ships and airplanes. But the low cost of solar and wind, I think, does mean it’s a good place to start, and then we need to think about those other sectors as well. I think a key thing there comes back to finance, and that’s why we’re spending so much time on it with our research agenda here. Access to financing and cost of capital are really important. Clean energy tends to be more capital-intensive and then, like solar and wind, more CAPEX, less OPEX over time. But attaining financing in poor countries is really difficult and expensive. Lack of experience with renewable energy, local banks are often reluctant to lend to those kinds of projects. And then foreign investors, where most of that capital is going to come from, view projects often in emerging markets and developing economies particularly as more risky. Local utilities may not be creditworthy. There’s currency inflation risk in many developing countries, people worry about recouping their upfront investment if bills are paid in local currency. There’s political risk, maybe corruption, inconsistently enforced regulations. And it can be harder to build clean energy infrastructure if you don’t have other kinds of infrastructure, like ports, and roads, and bridges and a good electrical grid. So I would start there. And I think there’s a role for those countries to scale up their clean energy sectors, but also for policymakers and multilateral development banks and governments elsewhere—there was a lot of focus in Glasgow on whether the developed countries would make good on their promise made in Copenhagen to send $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries. And they fell short of that. But even that is kind of a rounding error, compared to the one to two trillion (dollars) a year that the International Energy Agency estimates is needed. So there are many other things besides just writing a check that government, like in the U.S. or elsewhere, can do. The Development Finance Corporation, for example, can lend to banks in local and affordable rates, finance projects in local currency, expand the availability of loan guarantees. I’ve written before about how I think even what often gets called industrial policy, let’s think about some sectors—in the same way China did with solar or batteries fifteen years ago. Are there sectors where governments might help to grow domestic industries and, by doing that, scale—bring down the cost of technologies that are expensive now, the premium for low-carbon or zero-carbon cement or steel. It’s just—it’s not reasonable to ask a developing country to build new cities, and new highways, and all the new construction they’re going to do with zero-carbon steel and cement because it’s just way too expensive. So how do you bring those costs down? If we think about investments, we can make through U.S. infrastructure or other spending to do that, that not only may help to grow some domestic industries and jobs here, that can be its own form of global leadership if we’re driving those costs of those technologies down to make it cheaper for others to pick up. So I think that’s one of the places I’d start. But there are a lot of other things we need to do too. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question—and let me just go back. Stephen Kass is an adjunct professor at NYU. So the next question is a written question from Wei Liang, who is an assistant professor of international policy studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. And the question is: I wonder if you could briefly address the Green Climate Fund and individual countries’ pledge on that. BORDOFF: Yeah, I mean, it touches a little bit on what I said a moment ago about the need for developed countries to provide climate finance to developing countries. And so I think that’s—it’s important that we take those obligations seriously, and that we, in advanced economies, step up and make those funds available. And but, again, we’re talking—the amount we’re still talking about is so small compared to the amounts that are needed to deal both with the impacts of climate change, and then also to curb climate change, to mitigate climate change. Because we know that developing countries are in the parts of the world that will often be most adversely impacted by climate impacts—droughts, and heat waves, and storms, and food security issues—from a standpoint of equity are the parts of the world that have done the least to cause this problem, responsible for very few emissions. If you look cumulatively at emissions since the start of the industrial age, about half—nearly half have come from the U.S. and EU combined. Two percent from the entire continent of Africa. So they are using very little energy today, haven’t therefore contributed to the problems, and have the fewest resources, of course, to cope with the impacts, and also to develop in a cleaner way. Sometimes it’s cheaper to develop in a cleaner way. Renewables are often today competitive with coal, even without subsidy. But there are many areas where that’s not the case, and there is a cost. And we need to help make sure that, you know, we’re thinking about what a just transition looks like. And that means many different things for different communities, whether you’re a coal worker or an agricultural worker in California that may, you know, be working outside in worse and worse heat. But it also means thinking about the parts of the world that need assistance to make this transition. So I think we need to be taking that much more seriously. FASKIANOS: Next question is a raised hand from Tara Weil, who is an undergraduate student at Pomona College. Q: Hi. So, given that developed nations are the largest contributors to carbon emissions, as you’ve said, how can larger powers be convinced as to the importance of addressing global inequality with regards to climate change? And thank you so much, also, for giving this talk. BORDOFF: Yeah. Thank you for being here. I don’t have a great answer to your question. I mean, the politics of foreign aid in general are not great, as we often hear in events at CFR. So I do think one—we need to continue to encourage, through political advocacy, civil society, and other ways, governments in advanced economies to think about all the tools they have at their disposal. I think the ones that are going to be—I’m reluctant to try to speak as a political commenter rather than a climate and energy commenter on what’s going to work politically. But part of that is demonstrating what—it’s not just generosity. It is also in one’s self-interest to do these things. And just look at the pandemic, right? What would it look like for the U.S. to show greater leadership, or any country to show even greater leadership and help cope with the pandemic all around the world in parts of the world that are struggling to vaccinate their people? That is not only an act of generosity, but it is clearly one of self-interest too, because it’s a pretty globalized economy and you’re not going to be able to get a pandemic under control at home if it’s not under control abroad. Of course, the same is true of the impacts of climate change. It doesn’t matter where a ton of CO2 comes from. And we can decarbonize our own economy, but the U.S. is only 15 percent of annual emissions globally. So it’s not going to make a huge difference unless everyone else does that as well. There is also the potential, I think, to—and we see this increasingly when you look at the discussion of the Biden infrastructure bill, how they talk about the U.S.-China relationship, which of course are the two most important countries from the standpoint of climate change. It is one of cooperation. That was one of the success stories in Glasgow, was a commitment to cooperate more. We’ll see if we can actually do it, because it’s a pretty difficult and tense U.S.-China relationship right now. So the question is, can you separate climate from all those other problems on human rights, and intellectual property, and everything else and then cooperate on climate? It’s been hard, but there’s a renewed commitment to try to do that. But also, a recognition that action in the clean energy space is not only about cooperation but it’s also about economic competition. And you have seen more and more focus on both the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle on thinking about the security of supply chains, and critical minerals, and the inputs in lithium and rare earth elements that go into many aspects of clean energy. To my point before about aspects of industrial policy that might help grow your own domestic economy, I think there are ways in which countries can take measures that help—that help their own economies and help workers and help create jobs, and that in the process are helping to drive forward more quickly the clean energy technologies we need, and bring down the cost of those technologies to make them more accessible and available in some of the less-developed countries. So I think trying to frame it less as do we keep funds at home, do we write a check abroad? But there are actually many steps you could do to create economic opportunities and are win-win. Without being pollyannish about it, I think there is some truth to some of those. And I think we can focus on those politically as well. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take an international question from Luciana Alexandra Ghica, who is an associate professor for international cooperation at the University of Bucharest. What type of topics do you think we should address immediately in university programs that provide training in climate, development, global policies, or international public affairs, so that a new generation of leaders really pushes forward the agenda on climate change? BORDOFF: Yeah. Well, I’ll say a quick word about what we’re doing at Columbia, and maybe it’s relevant to that question, because Columbia has made this historic commitment to build a climate school. There are many initiatives, and centers, and institutes. There was not only a handful of schools—law school, business school, medical school, engineering school. And it is the largest commitment a university can make to any particular topic, is something on the scale of a school with degree-granting authority and tenure-granting authority, and all the things that come with a school. And it’s just the scale at a place like Columbia, and many other places, is just enormous. That’s what we’re doing on climate. We have created a climate school. And I’m honored President Bollinger asked me to help lead it. And we’re going to build a faculty. We have our first inaugural class of masters’ students, about ninety students that are going through the program right now, and we have a building in Manhattan for the climate school, and on and on. The idea—but the question is, what is climate, right? Because academia has been historically organized into traditional academic disciplines. So you have people who you hire through a tenured search, and they go to the engineering faculty and build their lab there. And there’s law professors, and their business school professors, and on and on and on, social work. But for climate, you need all of those, right? They all kind of need to come together. And, like, interdisciplinary doesn’t even sort of do justice to what it means to think about approaching this systemic—it’s a systemic challenge. The system has to change. And so whatever solution you’re talking about—if you want to get hydrogen to scale in the world, let’s—you know, for certain sectors of the economy that may be hard to do with renewable energy, or in terms of renewable energy and, say, green hydrogen. You need engineering breakthroughs to bring down the cost of electrolyzers, or you need new business models, or you need financial institution frameworks that figure out how you’re going to put the capital into these things. You need the policy incentives. How are you going to—you need permitting and regulation. How do we permit hydrogen infrastructure? It’s barely been done before. There are concerns in the environmental justice community about some aspects of technologies like that or carbon capture that need to be taken seriously and addressed. There are geopolitical implications, potentially, to starting to build a global trade in ammonia or hydrogen, and what security concerns—energy security concerns might accompany those, the way we thought about oil or gas from Russia into Europe. I have an article coming out in the next issue of Foreign Affairs about the geopolitics of the energy transition. So we need disciplines that come together and look at a problem like that in all of those multifaceted dimensions, so we can figure out how to get from a lab to scale out in the world. And so when we think about the areas of concentration here, climate finance, climate justice, climate in society, climate in international security—I mean, a range of things that I think are really important to help people understand. And that’s going to be a major focus of what we do at the climate school here. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Let’s go next to Sean Grossnickle, who has raised his hand. A graduate student at Fordham University. Q: Speak now? Hi, this is not Sean but Henry Schwalbenberg, also at Fordham, where I teach in our international political economy and development program. I went to a conference about a month ago in Rome. And there was a physicist from CERN. And he was a big advocate of something I’d never heard of, and this is this thorium for nuclear reactors. And he was going through all the pros, but I wanted a more balanced perspective on it. And I’m hoping that you might give me a little pros and cons of this thorium nuclear reactor technique. BORDOFF: Yeah. I will be honest and say that nuclear is not my area of focus. We have a pretty strong team here that works in nuclear, and I think is optimistic about the breakthroughs we’re going to see in several potential areas of nuclear—advanced nuclear technology, that being one of them, or small modular reactors, and others. At a high level, I will say I do think if you’re serious about the math of decarbonization and getting to net zero by 2050, it’s hard to do without zero-carbon nuclear power. It’s firm, baseload power. It runs all the time. Obviously, there are challenges with intermittency of solar and wind, although they can be addressed to some extent with energy story. Most of the analyses that are done show not necessarily in the U.S. but in other parts of the world significant growth in nuclear power. The International Energy Agency just modeled what it looks like to get to net zero by 2050, and this pathway that got a lot of attention for saying things like we would not be investing in new oil and gas supply. The world has to change a lot pretty quickly. And they have about a hundred new nuclear plants being built by 2030, so that’s a pretty big number. So we’re going to need all tools—(laughs)—that we have at our disposal. And unfortunately, I worry we may still fall short. So I think at a high level we need to think really hard about how to improve nuclear technology. The people who know that really well I think are optimistic about our ability to do that. And I will follow up on thorium in particular with my colleagues at Columbia, and happy to follow up with you offline about it. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to take a written question from Stephen Bird, who’s an associate professor of political science at Clarkson University. He thanks you, and he wanted you to talk a little bit more about political will. The overall dollar amounts are clear. Much cheaper to address climate change than to ignore it. That said, countries are, clearly, lagging. Is it a case of countries just don’t want to take action now because of issues of fairness or because of lack of domestic political support, i.e., citizens aren’t convinced that they should pay costs now with payoffs that come later, and what might we do to improve that issue in terms of persuading or arguing for more political will? BORDOFF: Yeah. It’s a question for, you know, a political scientist as much as an energy or climate expert, and I wish I had a better answer to it. I think it is—climate is one of the trickiest problems for so many reasons but one of those is there is no acute event now that you sort of respond to, hopefully, and pull everyone together. It’s a set of things that, you know, of course, there would have been storms and droughts before but we know they’re intensified and made worse. It’s hard to rally public support. We often respond to a crisis kind of proverbial, you know, frog in the boiling water kind of thing. So that makes it hard. There are huge issues—we talked about a just transition a few minutes ago—there are huge issues with intergenerational equity when we talk about climate. There are, clearly, climate impacts and damages today but some of the worst will be in the future, including for people who may not be born yet, and we don’t do a great job in our political environment about thinking about those and valuing them today and how you do that, and from an economic standpoint, of course, there are questions about discount rates you apply and everything else. I think, politically, one of the things that has mobilized stronger climate—support for climate action, so it is encouraging that if you look at polling on climate change, the level of urgency that the public in many countries, including the U.S., broadly, ascribe to acting on climate has gone up a lot. It’s higher today than it was, you know, a decade or so ago. That’s a result of people seeing the impacts and also advocacy campaigns and political campaigns. It is often tied to—it’s like a win-win. Like, President Biden says when he thinks of climate he thinks of jobs, and so we’re going to deal with climate and we’re going to grow the economy faster and we’re going to create jobs, and there is truth to that. It is also the case that there are costs. The cost of inaction are higher, but there are costs associated with the transition itself. So if you survey the American public, I think, climate, according to the latest YouGov/Economist poll I saw, you know, it was number two on the list of things they cared the most about. That’s much higher than in the past. And then if you ask the American public are they willing to pay $0.25 a gallon more at the pump to act on climate, 75 percent say no. And you look at the challenges the Biden administration is having right now sort of thinking about a really strong set of measures to put in place to move the ball forward on climate, but acute concern today about where oil prices are and inflation and natural gas prices as we head into the winter. If the weather is cold then it’s going to be really expensive for people to heat their homes in parts—some parts of the country like New England, maybe. So that’s a reality, and I think we need to—it was interesting, in the roundtable we did with President Obama with climate activists, that was a message he had for them. You know, be impatient, be angry, keep the pressure on, but also be pragmatic. And by that he means, like, you know, try to see the world through the eyes of others and people who are worried about the cost of filling up at the pump, the cost of paying their heating bills. They’re not—some of them may not be where you are yet. They may not have the same sense of urgency with acting on climate that many of us on this Zoom do and need to take those concerns seriously. So I think that’s a real challenge, and it can be addressed with good policy, to some extent, right, if you think about the revenue raised from a carbon tax and how it could be redistributed in a way that reduce the regressive impacts. I’ve written about how, at a high level—I’ll say one last point—if we get on track for an energy transition, which we’re not on yet, right. (Laughs.) Oil and gas use are going up each and every year. But imagine we started to get on track where those were falling year after year. It’s still going to take decades, and that process of transition is going to be really messy. It’s going to be really volatile. We’re going to have fits and starts in policy from Obama to Trump to Biden. We’re going to make estimate—we’re going to make bets on technologies and maybe get those technologies wrong or misunderstand the cost curves, the potential to shut down investment in certain forms of energy before the rest are ready to pick up the slack. If it’s messy and volatile and bumpy, that’s not only harmful economically and geopolitically, it will undermine public support for stronger climate action. So you see, like, in Washington they’re selling off the Strategic Petroleum Reserve because we’re moving to a world beyond oil and also we have all this domestic oil now with shale. We need more, not fewer, tools to mitigate volatility for the next several decades if we’re serious about making this transition, and I think the same is true for thinking about sort of buffers you could build into geopolitics, foreign policy, and national security, because there will be—in a post-oil and gas world, you know, you may say, well, we’re not going to worry as much about the Middle East or about, you know, Russia’s leverage in Europe. But there will be new risks created and we can talk about what some of those might be, and we need new tools of foreign policy to mitigate those potential foreign policy risks. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question. Raised hand from Chloe Demrovsky, adjunct instructor at NYU. Q: Hey, can you hear me? BORDOFF: Yes. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Yes. Q: Hi. Chloe Demrovsky, adjunct at NYU and president and CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute International. Thanks for being with us, Jason. So my question is about the feasibility and your thoughts on artificially altered clouds or solar geoengineering. What are the ethical and geopolitical implications of, perhaps, using this to buy a little time for our energy transition? Thanks. BORDOFF: Yeah. A super interesting question, and I will say, again, I’m sort of—think of myself as an energy expert. So that is where I spend more time than thinking about tools like solar geoengineering. I guess, it seems there’s, obviously, huge risks associated with something like that and we need to understand them. We need to do research. We need to figure out what those risks may be. There are global governance concerns. It’s actually pretty cheap to do solar geoengineering. So what happens when some country or some billionaire decides they want to start spraying stuff into the atmosphere to cool the planet? And for those who don’t know that, you know, solar—I mean, you think of after a volcano the planet cools a little bit because of all the particulates up in the atmosphere. When you model in an energy system model how much phasing out coal will reduce warming, you, obviously, have much less carbon dioxide emissions but that’s offset slightly—not completely, of course—it’s offset a little bit by the fact that you have less local air pollution, which is a good thing from air pollution. But air pollution has a slightly cooling effect, because you have these little particles floating around that reflect sunlight. So the idea is can we create that artificially and cool the planet, and you can imagine lots of reasons why that could go wrong when you’re trying to figure out what—how much to put in there, what unintended consequences could be. You still have other impacts of carbon dioxide like ocean acidification. Maybe you go too far in one direction, that’s like you’re setting the thermostat. That’s why one of the companies doing carbon removal is called Global Thermostat. You’re kind of figuring out what temperature it should be. But I will say so it’s an area that needs research and I think, given how far we are away from achieving goals like 1.5 and net-zero 2050, I guess what I would say is in the same way that when I worked in the Obama administration it was—I wouldn’t say controversial, but there were some people who didn’t want to talk about adaptation because it was kind of a more—there was a moral hazard problem there. It was, you know, less pressure to mitigate and reduce emissions if we thought adaptation was a solution. People worry about that from the standpoint of solar geoengineering. But the likelihood—I hope I’m wrong, but the likelihood that we roll the clock forward, you know, later this decade and we realize we’ve made progress but we’re still pretty far short, and the impacts of climate change in the same way the IPCC 1.5 report said, you know what, 1.5 is going to be pretty bad, too, and that’s even worse than we thought, the more we learn about climate the more reason there is to be concerned, not less concerned. It seems very plausible to me that we will kind of come to a growing consensus that we have to think about whether this technology can, as you said, buy us time. This is not something you do permanently. You need to get to net zero to stop global warming. But if you want to reduce the impacts of warming on the rate of Arctic sea ice melt and all the rest, can you buy time, extend the runway, by doing this for some number of decades. And I think—I don’t have a strong view on the right answer to that. But I think it’s something we, certainly, need to be thinking about researching and understanding what the consequences would be because we’re going to have to figure out how to take more abrupt actions to close that gap between ambition and reality unless the reality starts to change much more quickly than is the case right now. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I saw a raised hand from Maya but she lowered it. So if you want to raise your hand again, please do so. And in the meantime, I’m going to take a written question from Jennifer Sklarew, who’s an assistant professor of energy and sustainability at George Mason University. Was CCS/CCUS, which carbon capture and storage/carbon capture utilization and storage, to write out those acronyms, promoted as a climate change solution in Glasgow and was there a pushback against this technology option as both a climate change solution and a support mechanism for continued fossil fuel use? BORDOFF: There was some pushback but, I think, actually, more in the other direction. So I think there has been a growing recognition from many in the climate world that carbon capture technology, carbon removal technology, need to be part of the solution. I think there’s almost no climate model at this point that shows how you would get to 1.5 degrees or net zero—1.5 degrees without huge amounts of negative emissions—carbon removal. Some of that can be nature based, but a lot of it will be—some of it will be technology based as well and focusing on what we care about, which is the emissions, is the most important thing. So and this is not, I don’t think, the primary thing you’re going to do. You want to do the things that are easiest and cheapest and present the fewest risks. So putting a lot of renewables into the grid, getting electrification into the vehicle fleet—there’s a lot of things that you would do before that. But if you think about some of the sectors in the economy we talked about before that are hard to decarbonize like steel and cement, it may well be the case that carbon capture is part of the technology there. There was a big announcement yesterday from the NET Power Allam Cycle gas plant in Texas that they had finally come online with delivering net-zero power to the grid. It was sort of a milestone in that technology. So we need to advance this technology and figure out how we’re going to—how we’re going to get where we need to be. We need to hold that kind of technology accountable to make sure that it’s actually meeting the standards we’re talking about so that it actually is very low, if not zero, carbon. But if you look at, you know, most of the scenarios I’m aware of, whether it’s—Princeton did the study “Net-Zero America,” how we get to net zero by 2050 in the U.S. The International Energy Agency, as I said, did it for net zero globally. There is a meaningful role for carbon capture, to some extent, in the power sector in these heavy industry sectors like steel and cement, and then making, say, hydrogen some of that will be blue hydrogen. Most of it, eventually, will be green, but there may be some role for blue hydrogen, which is—which is gas with carbon capture. So I think, if anything, there’s been a growing understanding that we need all tools on deck right away and, again, I fear even with all the tools we may still fall short. FASKIANOS: Great. There’s a written question from Laila Bichara, who’s at SUNY Farmingdale, international business. There was a New York Times article, “Business Schools Respond to a Flood of Interest in ESG,” talking about the issue of the scarcity of skills in recent graduates to help with social impact, sustainable investments, climate finance, and social entrepreneurship. And she wanted to know if there are resources that you could point the group to in terms of foundation courses or certification that would provide all students with a basic foundation. BORDOFF: Yeah. That’s a really good question and it’s a growing area of focus and I think universities should be doing more in. The Tamer Center of Columbia Business School does a lot of work in ESG. We hosted a really interesting roundtable at the Center on Global Energy Policy yesterday on ESG and actually been doing a lot of work thinking about that in the context of state-owned enterprises and national oil companies, which we don’t talk about enough. But they’re a really, really big part of the problem we’re talking about. We tend to focus more on these very well-known private sector companies or financial institutions in places like New York. So there—Bloomberg Philanthropies has done a huge amount in this space. I think there’s some really good educational programs with some universities and business schools that have done a lot in the ESG space. But I think it’s a need, to be frank. I mean, the fact that you’re asking the question and I’m pointing to a few examples, but not a huge number, and it is something that universities need to educate themselves about but then is an opportunity for us to educate others. Maybe a revenue one, too, with executive education or something. But there’s a lot of companies and financial institutions that want to understand this better. I worry that while there’s a huge growing focus on climate, which is a good thing, in the financial community, the phrase ESG kind of means so many different things right now. It’s this alphabet soup of regulations and standards and disclosure requirements, and some may make a difference and some may not and it’s hard to figure out which ones matter, and for people who want to do the responsible thing what does that really mean. That’s an area where research is needed. I mean, that’s a role for what we do every day to think about if the SEC is going to regulate what makes a difference and what doesn’t, if you’re going to create green bonds. If you’re going to call everything green in the finance community, what’s real and what’s not? What moves the needle? What doesn’t? What are the returns for greener portfolios? How is that affecting the cost of capital for clean energy versus dirty energy? You know, on and on. I think those are important research questions for us to take on and then it’s our job to help educate others as well. FASKIANOS: Great. So the next question I’m going to take from—oh, OK. Good. Maya Copeland (sp) has written her question. She’s a political science major at Delaware State University. Do you believe developed nations like the U.S. have done a lot in reference to climate change or mostly talk? If you believe nations like the U.S. have dropped the ball in this aspect, what do you think it would take to get those powerhouses serious about environmental change? BORDOFF: I think advanced economies have done—many have done a lot. I mean, the European Union has taken climate seriously and has reduced emissions and has pretty strong measures in place with a carbon market, for example, with a pretty high carbon price right now. The politics of this issue are not quite as favorable in the U.S., but the U.S. has seen emissions decline more than most over the last decade and a half, in part because of policy measures that have, you know, advanced renewable energy and brought the cost of that down as well as cheaper natural gas displacing coal for a while. But at a broader level, you know, have we done enough? The answer is no one’s done enough—(laughs)—which is why emissions are still going up every single year. So that—so the answer is no, we haven’t done enough. Almost no country has done enough at home to be on a trajectory for net zero 2050. You saw the announcements from countries like India saying, we’ll get to net zero by 2070, and, you know, people said, oh, well, that’s terrible. They’re not saying 2050. And implicit in that is sort of saying, well, if you want to get global to net zero by 2050 we’re not all going to move at the same speed, right. Some countries have advanced with the benefit of hydrocarbons since the Industrial Age and some haven’t. So, presumably, the pathways are going to look different, right. And, you know, that’s not always how countries in the advanced—in the developing—in the developed world talk about it. The commitment from the Biden administration is net zero by 2050. So I would say there’s been—there are some models to point to of countries that have taken this issue seriously but we’re not doing enough and partly because the political will is not there and partly—I come back to what I said before—this problem is harder than people realize. So you say which countries are doing enough, like, point to some models, right, and somebody might point to Norway, which, you know, the share of new vehicles sold that are electric in Norway went from zero to, I think, it’s 70 percent now. I mean, that’s amazing. Seventy percent of new car sales are electric. And if you go back to the start of that trajectory, about a decade or decade and a half, oil demand is unchanged in Norway. So we can talk about why that is and it’s because a lot—as I said earlier, a lot of oil is used for things other than cars, and it’s increased for trucks and planes and petrochemicals. It takes time for the vehicle fleet to turn over. So when you start selling a bunch of electric cars, you know, average car is on the road for fifteen years so it takes a while before that—the vehicle stock turns over. So I saw that kind of mapped out on a chart recently, just two lines—one is electric vehicle sales going straight up and then the other is oil demand in a flat line. It’s a reminder of how unforgiving the math of decarbonization is. The math of climate is really unforgiving, like, you know, the kind of harmful impacts we’re going to see with even 1.5 degrees warming. But the math of energy and decarbonization is really unforgiving, too. It’s—and we just need to be honest with ourselves about what it takes to get where we need to go. Because I think it’s good to have optimism and ambition, but I worry there should be optimism but not happy talk. We should recognize that there’s a lot of work to do and let’s get to work doing it. FASKIANOS: Great. So there are several questions in the chat about China. I’m going to start off with Andrew Campbell, who’s a student at George Mason University. Is LNG—liquefied natural gas—a bridge toward renewable energy still being considered? If not, how are India and China’s expected growth and increase in coal use going to be addressed? And then there are a couple of other comments or questions about China. You know, what’s your take on China as the biggest emitter and return somewhat to coal? Can we actually even make stated and adequate new goals? And, you know, given the relationship between U.S. and China, which is contentious, you know, what is the cooperation going to be between U.S. and China on climate? So there’s a lot packed in there, but I know you can address it all. (Laughs.) BORDOFF: Yeah. I think the China question is really hard, as I said earlier, this kind of, like, competition and cooperation and we’re going to try to do both, and I think there was a hope early on—Secretary Kerry said it—that climate could be segmented from the broader challenges in the U.S.-China relationship, and I think that has proven harder to do than people had hoped, in part, because, you know, you need both parties to want to do that. I think China has signaled it’s not necessarily willing to segment cooperation on climate from lots of other issues. And then these things bleed together where, you know, there’s measures being taken in Washington to restrict imports of solar panels from China, that there were concerns that were made with—in ways that have human rights abuses associated with them with forced labor or maybe have unfair trade practices in terms of subsidies. China is—you know, the leadership in China takes climate seriously. This is a country that recognizes, I think, climate change is real and that needs to be addressed. They have a set of national interests that matter a lot, obviously, to them in terms of economic growth, and the pathway to get there is challenging. So it’s a country that’s growing clean energy incredibly quickly, as we’re seeing right now, in part because there’s a(n) energy crunch throughout Europe and Asia. They are ramping up the use of coal quite a bit again, but also taking some pretty strong measures to advance clean energy and, over time, hopefully, move in a lower carbon direction for reasons both about concerns over climate but also local air pollution, which is much, much worse in many parts of China than it is here and that’s a huge source of concern for the public there. So when it comes to things like coal they need to figure out how to address those air pollution problems. And then for reasons of economic competition, like I mentioned a minute ago. I mean, China dominates the global market for refining and processing of critical minerals for solar panels, and there are economic and national competitiveness and strategic reasons to do that. So all of those things motivate them to move in the direction of clean energy, but they need to be moving faster to phase down hydrocarbon energy for sure. And then you ask a really hard question about—not hard, but one of the most contentious questions is about the role of natural gas in the transition, and we can have a whole separate session about that. I think there is a view of many in the climate community and many in developing countries—in developed countries that there’s not space left in the carbon budget for natural gas, and you saw the Biden administration recently declare through the Treasury Department that, except in very rare cases of the poorest of the poor like Sierra Leone or something, they would not finance natural gas projects through the multilateral development banks. The vice president of Nigeria, I think, responded—speaking of CFR—in Foreign Affairs by writing that this was not fair and you need to think about a viable pathway for a country like Nigeria to develop and it just—it doesn’t work to get there that fast. There has to be a bridge. The role of gas looks very different in different parts of the world. It looks different in the U.S. than it does in an emerging or a developing economy. It looks different in the power sector, where there are a lot more alternatives like renewables than it does in heavy industry or how we heat our homes. It looks different for, say, in the Global South, where you’re talking about people who are still using coal and charcoal and dung for cooking to think about solutions like liquefied petroleum gas. So all of those things are true, but we need to think about gas also with the carbon budget in mind. I mean, the math is just the math. (Laughs.) If you’re going to build any gas infrastructure and not have it blow through the carbon budget, it’s going to have to be retired before the end of its normal economic life and you need to think about how that might look in different parts of the world. So you need to be fair to people, to allow them to grow, but also recognize that the math of carbon, you know, is what it is. FASKIANOS: Great. I just want to credit those last—the China questions came from Lada Kochtcheeva at North Carolina State University and Joan Kaufman, who’s director of Schwarzman Scholars based in China. We are really at the end of our time—we started a couple minutes late—and I just wanted to go back to—there are students on the call who are following with a professor on the webinar who wanted you just to comment on blue hydrogen, whether or not it is contributing or helping to reduce greenhouse gases. BORDOFF: I think the answer is it can. You just need to make sure that it actually does. So the question of—and by blue hydrogen we mean, you know, using gas with carbon capture to create hydrogen. It needs to have very low methane leakage rates. It needs to have very high capture rates, and we know that is technically possible. It doesn’t mean it will be done that way. So if people are going to pursue blue hydrogen as part of the solution in the—particularly in the near term, you need to make sure that it’s meeting those standards. I think in the long run my guess and, I think, most guesses would be that green hydrogen is going to make more sense. It’s going to be cheaper. The cost is going to come down. And so if we have a significant part of the energy sector that is hydrogen and ammonia in, say, 2050, more of that’s going to be green than blue. But there can be a role for blue if you make sure it’s done the right way. You just have to actually make sure it’s done the right way. FASKIANOS: Great. And, Jason, we are out of time, but I wanted to give you one last, you know, one-minute or thirty seconds, whatever you want, just to say some parting words on your work at the center or, you know, to leave the group with what they can do, again. So— BORDOFF: Well, I would just say thanks for the chance to be with you all and for the work that you’re doing every day. You know, I think Glasgow was a moment when the world came together to elevate ambition and roll up our sleeves and say this is—this is the decisive decade. Like, we’ll know ten years from now—(laughs)—if we got anywhere close to making it or not. And so it’s time for everyone to kind of roll up their sleeves and say, what can we do? We’re doing that, I think, at Columbia with the creation of this new climate school. We do that every day at the Center on Global Energy Policy. And so just in all of your institutions, you know, what does that mean for you? What does it mean for the institution? What does that mean for your own research and time and how you allocate it? How do we step up and say, what can we do in the biggest and boldest way we can? Because we need—we’re creating a climate school because I think the view is—you know, a hundred years ago there were no schools of public health and now it’s how would you deal with a pandemic without a school of public health? So I think our view is decades from now we’ll look back and wonder how we ever thought it was possible to handle a problem as complex and urgent as climate change without universities devoting their greatest kind of resource to them. And the measure of success for universities has to be research and new knowledge creation. It has to be education. It has to be serving our own communities. For us, it’s, you know, the community here in New York, Harlem. But also are we focusing the extraordinary resources and capacity and expertise of these great institutions to solve humanity’s greatest problems? That has to be a motivating force, too, for much of—maybe not all of but a lot of what universities do. So I’d just ask all of us to go back and think about how we can do that in our own work every day. and we have to do it through partnerships. I think universities don’t work together as well as they need to. But this is only going to work if we work together. FASKIANOS: Great way to end. Thank you very much, Jason Bordoff. We really appreciate it. We’ll have to look for your article in Foreign Affairs magazine, which is published by CFR. So, we are excited that you continue to contribute to the magazine. You can follow Jason Bordoff on Twitter at @JasonBordoff. Very easy to remember. Our final academic webinar of the semester will be on Wednesday, December 1, at 1:00 p.m. (ET). Michelle Gavin, who is CFR’s Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies, will talk about African politics and security issues. So in the meantime, follow us at @CFR_Academic. Come to CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with you. Take care. BORDOFF: Thank you. (END)
  • Education
    Higher Education Webinar: Civic Engagement in Higher Education
    Play
    Brian Mateo, associate dean of civic engagement and director of strategic partnerships in Bard College’s Globalization and International Affairs Program and security fellow at the Truman National Security Project, discusses how higher education administrators can encourage student civic engagement and participation in global issues.   FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic if you would like to reference after today’s discussion. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. So with that, I’m delighted to have the pleasure of introducing Brian Mateo to talk about how higher education administrators can encourage student civic engagement and participation in global issues. We’ve shared his bio with you, so I’ll just give you a few highlights. Mr. Mateo serves as associate dean of civic engagement at Bard College, where he works with faculty and students across the Open Society University Network on experiential learning and civic engagement opportunities. Previously he worked with public diplomacy programs sponsored by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on U.S. foreign policy and engagement. He’s also a security fellow at the Truman National Security Project, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a trained climate reality leader under former Vice President Al Gore. So, Brian, thank you very much for being with us. If we could just dive right in to talk about what is the role of higher education in civic engagement? How do you define it, and how do you encourage administrators and students to get more involved? MATEO: Thank you very much for having me here today at the Council on Foreign Relations, Irina. I’m very excited for this opportunity. So, yes, what is the role of higher education institutions when it comes to civic engagement? So the American Psychological Association defines civic engagement as individuals and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. At the core of Bard’s mission is to be a private college in the public interest. And how we do that is by providing access and education, especially for students that are underrepresented or may not have access to a liberal arts education. This is evidenced by our Bard Early Colleges, which are high school—which are for high school aged students that can take up to a year or two years of free college credit to be able to accelerate their college career. It’s also evidenced by our Bard Prison Initiative, which is the largest prison education program for incarcerated individuals in the nation. So when we think about how do we do this, I see—I can’t help but think about Astin’s model of student development, which says that for students that are hyper-involved in their institutions, they get to be more engaged and involved, and the quality of their involvement goes up. And if we provide high level of programs and resources, students are more likely to be engaged. And then Astin also encourages us to make sure that we are providing resources and programmatic efforts that are meeting the needs of the students today. And I will begin to talk about how we do this from the student level, the faculty/staff level, institutionally, and also talk about how we work with communities. And before I begin, Bard also is a founding member of the Open Society University Network, which is comprised of over forty academic and research institutions. So not only are we also collaborating with our local communities, we also have a transnational network that we’re working with. So how do you engage students? We do this by making sure that we’re merging the curricular and co-curricular learning. This is also evidenced by our Certificate of Civic Engagement Program, which is a structured path for undergraduate students that are interested in deepening their knowledge and understanding of civic engagement and community engagement. And students are able to participate in this program and also earn a certificate that will also be added to their transcript. We also provide students with grants and opportunities to pursue internships that are unpaid, which are—which are called Community Act Awards. So students that find unpaid internships related to civic engagement and also social justice issues can apply for a grant to be able to supplement that, and making it more equitable for our students. We also provide what are called microgrants, which are seed funding for students that want to be able to do community-based projects. For faculty and staff, we encourage them to teach courses on experiential learning. And these courses enable students to not only work with the community but bring the community also into our classroom. And looking at David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, where students need—where students start with concrete experience, work on reflection, and also thinking about the experience while then planning and learning what they’ve—and executing what they’ve learned, is very important when it comes to civic engagement work because students are—students are introduced to some of these issues in the classroom, and then they have the ability to work through those issues with a professor and community members as well. And some example of these courses are—I teach a course on civic engagement myself, where the course is historical, theoretical, and experiential. And we look at social movements in America that help effect change. And we look at the civil rights movement, women rights, LGBT rights, climate activism and climate action, as well as the role of the media and what is misinformation and disinformation. And in this course, students also have to conduct what’s called the Community Needs Assessment. And the Community Needs Assessment, students come with a research question and then work to interview community members to see what are the issues that are happening there. For faculty that also want to learn more about how to create courses on experiential learning, we also offer an experiential leaning institute where faculty from the OSUN network can participate. And then students—examples of work that faculty have done with students have been implementing a digital platform to assist with teaching or tutoring practices, historical tours and workshops, and also storytelling and interviews of community partners as well. Faculty that teach experiential learning, students say that about 89 percent of them say that engagement this way has helped their awareness to social justice and community issues. And in 2020 we had over eight hundred students that participated in about eighty courses. And those courses worked with ninety-five community agencies or organizations. We also help faculty and graduate students on conducting engaged research and scholarship practice. So some of examples of these are looking at LGBT issues in South Africa, the intersection of how music supports education with people—with people with disabilities, and also peacebuilding and storytelling as well. And we also help staff and faculty create civic action plans, which help colleges around the OSUN network institutionalize civic engagement and strategically think of how these four pillars can work together. While working with community partners, we’re also very intentional in making sure that we have equitable practices. We developed what’s called the Principles of Equity, where faculty/staff and community members can read on our website on how we work with the community, and making sure that it’s reciprocal, making sure that it’s—that we’re deepening and creating sustainable partnerships while also engaging community with resources and developing shared resources as well that can benefit both the community and students and the institution. When it comes to institutional engagement, I gave examples of the Bard Early Colleges and Bard Prison Initiative. Bard has also been able to work with student-led—with other student-led initiatives that have become part of the institution. Examples of these as well are Brothers At, which is a mentoring and college-readiness program nationwide for young men of color, as well as Sister to Sister, that does similar work but with young women of color. And recently, Bard also has worked with trying to evacuate nearly two hundred Afghan students and helping them get an education throughout our network as well. So those are some examples of institutional engagement at Bard—at Bard as well. And I constantly think to myself: What is it that we want our students to gain when they participate in our—in our program, or engage with our network? And looking back at Astin’s theory of student involvement, we see that Astin talks about inputs, which are what students come with, the environment, what is it that we’re providing for our students, and the outputs. As a result of a student attending our universities, what is it that we want them to get out of this, aside from just, you know, the academic knowledge. But how do we want them to be involved? And in my opinion, I feel like there’s a few outputs that we would want, as higher education administrators. And I’ll state them and then conclude my presentation. So I strongly believe that, you know, we want them to be critical thinkers. We want them to understand and practice equity, be strategic problem solvers, understand the power of reflection and active listening, community builders, practice empathy, be lifelong learners, and also ultimately be engaged individuals. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Brian, thank you very much. Let’s go to all of you now. (Gives queuing instructions.)  So I’m going to go first go to Manuel Montoya. Please unmute yourself and tell us your institution. Q: Yeah. Hello. My name’s Manuel Montoya and I am from the University of New Mexico. Thank you, Irina, for setting this up. I think this is an important discussion. And thank you, Mr. Mateo, for your presentation. I’m pleased to hear all the work that you’re doing. That’s inspiring. I will, I guess, do two parts. I will share some of the work that I’ve done and then share a question that I think is germane to this particular issue. We recently set up a global experiential learning curriculum at the university that is designed to get students to merge theory with practice and some sort of practical impact in terms of the global economy and other things. And we have a—we have a group of students that work with the largest folk art market in the world, which is based in Santa Fe. And we’re trying to get them to work with indigenous communities throughout the world to try to have a larger platform for market entry. And we’re—we’ve been in talks for the past four years to try to get the Olympic games to have some sort of mini pop-up folk art market that represents these types of market activities. And inside of that there is a lot of issues about human rights, but also about the value of crafting economy. There’s all sorts of things that students are trying to engage with that require a liberal arts education. My question, or my frustration, often happens at places that aren’t like Bard College, places that don’t necessarily see community-engaged learning as having some sort of incentive structure for faculty. I’m one of many faculty members that does that, likely because I care about the issues and also because I think that it does make research and other forms of academic and intellectual contributions valuable. So my question to Mr. Mateo, or just generally to whoever’s participating, is how are we creating an incentive structure for faculty and for other people who are engaged within the university system to make this transition to do the kind of work that Mr. Mateo is talking about? And what is that—what is that going to take in places that are embedded a little bit more traditionally in the way that higher education either incentivizes or evaluates faculty and stuff in more traditional ways? MATEO: Yes. Thank you so much for your question. And it’s a question that we’re all grappling with, right, as well. Some of us—some of us are doing the work deeper and, you know, sometimes taking risks, and others are in the inception piece. So I’ll elaborate by saying this: Students more and more are asking how do I apply what I’m learning in the classroom to a job? How do I make sure that, as a result of me attending this institution, I’m also going to be competitive or be able to contribute to society, right? So I think that—I think that more and more institutions and faculty are thinking about this, because you—you know, students are less inclined to go be taught something and not be able to apply it. At the same time, students also want to see themselves, their history, and also what’s going on in the community into the curriculum too. So this is also driving the conversation. It is not easy to teach courses on experiential learning. It takes a lot of time. It also takes resources. And you have to embed reflection and community engagement into the syllabus. And sometimes when you’re teaching two days a week for an hour or an hour and a half—you know, fifteen-week curriculum for the semester, that can be difficult to do. So what we’ve done is that we’ve developed an experiential learning institute to help faculty understand how to bring this thing into it, how to work with community, how to start that timeline. Because it’s very different to develop a syllabus than to bring in community, because you sometimes have to start setting that up earlier. And also, we provide grants to support them to be able to do either—to buy resources for transportation, if they need to hire a student intern to help them with this work as well. So those are some of the ways that we have tried to do this. I also want to talk about data and assessment, because I can’t stress enough how much—how important that is. Because when you’re measuring students’ learning and you see that their learning has grown exponentially from an experiential based course, you cannot argue with that, right? So we try to do our best to make sure that we are—that we’re also assessing learning and making sure that when—that when we are asking for funding or that when we are trying to create new programs and initiatives, that we are doing this not only evidence-based in theory and practice, but also on the data that proves that this is something that is of a benefit to the community, to our students, and our institution. Q: Thank you, Mr. Mateo. I guess I have one follow-up question, if it’s permissible, Irina. FASKIANOS: Sure. Go ahead, Manuel. Q: Yeah, yeah. So I think you’re entirely right. I think that assessment at the student level and the student engagement level, being able to see how this connects to the vocational and even their social destinies is a really, really important factor. I’ve noted that many institutions across the country are having a great difficulty trying to incorporate or embed community engagement as how they evaluate their faculty. And I’m a tenured faculty at the university, and it’s a research one institution. It’s not a liberal arts institution. But, you know, publish or perish becomes still one of the ways in which I’m evaluated. So I have to—I have to attend to this kind of master of publishing in peer-reviewed journals, while at the same time my heart and really the most effective work that I do is during community engagement work. So I guess my question is also fundamentally about how we’re—how we’re transforming institutions to be able to adapt and really incorporate the type of community engagement work that you’re talking about, Mr. Mateo, while at the same time valuing and validating its value with the assessment of faculty every year. Because I would say that you’d get a ton of faculty who’d be really good at doing this kind of work, but they’re disincentivized to do it because they’re only evaluated by their peer-reviewed journal work. So how does one connect the two? What is the frontier for that in higher education that you guys have seen? And I’d really, really like to know, because I think that’s going to be a really important part of the frontier of what higher education is dealing with. MATEO: Well, yes, thank you. And, you know, as a field of higher education we’re here not only teach, but provide knowledge, and hopefully that that knowledge helps better communities or help create an awareness, right? So that’s something that needs to—that needs to be a driving source and conversation because, you know, what we try to do is to incentivize faculty whenever they aren’t conducting research, and also students as well, when they want to do community-based work, to see who they can partner with, how they can go about and do that. And making sure that we’re amplifying voices and showing the level of work that people are doing so, like, that their work can be recognized and that it also shows that there’s a value to this as well. So that’s what I would say there. It’s still something that I think institutions grapple with, but more and more I believe that as institutions begin to see the value of being civically engaged, because at the end of the day, you know, we all also exist in the community. Our colleges and our campuses are within our community, within a community, within a domestic national and international realm. And, you know, what is it that we want to do? We want to contribute. And that’s one of the reasons why we also provide engaged research grants for faculty too. So I hope that that answers your question, Manuel, and I’m happy to elaborate more. Q: I’ll yield to other questions. But thank you very much. I appreciate it. FASKIANOS: I’m going to go next to Laila Bichara, who has a raised hand. And if you could unmute and identify your institution. Q: Hi. Well, I work for SUNY Farmingdale. And generally speaking, I teach with experiential learning. I use all kinds of newspapers and case studies and current affairs to make sure that the theory we cover in global business, you know, management and all other courses are, you know, applied and showing the results and what’s going on. That said, I am currently serving on an adjunct staff to work on couple of issues. One is social mobility and the second is community engagement, and I see a lot of interrelation between this and experiential learning. And I just wanted to see if there is any work done or papers done in the social mobility, because our students are typically first-generation college students. They don’t have role models at home and they rely heavily on us to guide them, and they’re usually kids or, you know, students in their twenties that have two or three jobs to pay for their education. So any ideas, any links, any guidance for me to start to make advancement in that project and help my students. MATEO: Great. Thank you. So what I hear you say is that looking at the linkages between social mobility, community engagement, and which one was the third one? Q: Experiential learning as well. MATEO: Experiential learning. Yes. Q: Yeah. It’s all a kind of, like, spiral to me. You know, that’s how I see it. MATEO: Yes. So when allowing students to do experiential learning into the classroom and bringing into the classroom, you’re also helping them get applied skills, and yes, so there is at times a level of—a disadvantage when a student is working three jobs while also studying and then you’re telling them like, oh, go volunteer, or go do this, right. By embedding experiential learning into the curriculum, you’re still teaching students with some of these applicable skills that they can use as a part of a resume and also can speak to in an interview and saying, like, this is how I was able to do this as evidenced by that, right. And that, in turn, helps students to be able to find other opportunities as well. In terms of links, so we do have resources at our Center for Civic Engagement website, which is cce.bard.edu, and there’s a resource link there, and then we also have resources as well on our OSUN website, osun.bard.edu. So those are—those are places that you that you can find some of these resources. FASKIANOS: Great. And we’ll send out after this a link to this webinar as well as with those URLs so that people—websites so people can go back and dig deeper. So I’m going to go next to David Kim’s written question. He’s an assistant professor at UCLA. Thank you for this discussion. I’d like to hear more about insights into community engagement on an international or global level. What are some best practices when faculty, communities, and students work across borders—international borders? How are they different from community engagement at a local or national level? MATEO: Thank you. So we have to be aware of, you know, what we can provide and also what is it—what are some of the needs or how it can be reciprocal. So a lot of listening and intentionality has to be brought into it because sometimes, you know, we can come in with our own mindset of, oh, this is how we do it and we do it well, and then you meet other counterparts and then they’re, like, well, but this is also another way of doing it. So there has to be a collaborative and reciprocal way or a mutual, respectful, reciprocal way of engaging, and, typically, you know, how we’ve done that is that we’ve partnered with other universities. We’ve also seen who are the community partners that are there in the international realm and how we can work around that, too. So I would say being intentional, making sure that you have capacity for what you are doing so, like, that you can deliver and also having a mutual reciprocal approach as well as active listening, and be willing to learn also from our international partners, too. FASKIANOS: I think, Brian, you mentioned that you were looking at LGBTQ+ issues in South Africa. Do you have any partnerships? Can you sort of give us examples of how you’re doing that? MATEO: Yes. That’s one of the research grants that we have provided to someone to be able to do that research. So the individual there is partnered with organizations and are conducting that research, and once that research is done we will make sure to publish it. FASKIANOS: Great. OK. I’m going to go next to Isaac Castellano from Boise State University. Our career center just landed a grant to pilot a program to pay students for their internship experiences. For us, a lot of students—our students have to work and this is another way beyond embedding experiential learning into their coursework. So I think he’s sharing more than asking a question, but maybe you have a reaction to that. MATEO: Yes, and thank you so much, Isaac. So yeah. So we piloted this a couple of years ago and it’s been very successful, and the way that it—the way that it works is it’s for summer internships and students can request up to $3,000 for any unpaid internship. And we have them submit an application as well as a supervisor form and an agreement of what the students will be doing for that organization. And then, in return, the students will write one to two reflection papers on their experience, and then when they come back to campus the next semester they get to present about their experience and what they’ve done for that internship. So that’s how we—that’s how we run our community action awards, and it’s been super successful. It has been able to provide access to students that wouldn’t otherwise be able to do an unpaid internship, and the students submit a budget of up to $2,000 and then we see how we can—how we can help fund that. So I highly encourage you to definitely do that pilot, and if you do want any other insight or how to be able to do that, I’m happy to share my email as well with Irina when she sends out the resources. FASKIANOS: Great. And Isaac has a follow-up. Where does the money come from, that paid summer program that you’re talking about? MATEO: It could—grants. We also try to fund—try to find funding and resources as well. So it comes through various sources, and so that’s how we try to support our students. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. OK. So the next question is another written question. And people can ask their questions, too, but this is from Chip Pitts at Stanford University. Have you encountered obstacles in this environment characterized by major demographic changes and increasing polarization, e.g., mandates against critical race theory, based on the perceived political nature, even leftist nature of, quote/unquote, “social justice” and “human rights” or “environmental community engagement efforts”? And if so, or for those in places where there are more conservative values, what have you seen or would you suggest to shore up and spur more courage and leadership among the reluctant or shy faculty and administrators and overcome and avoid such blockages? MATEO: Mmm hmm. Thank you. So you have to meet communities where they’re at, right, and making sure that they also understand that we’re here to work with them, too, and this is why active listening and making sure that there is a reciprocal approach to this is important. And it’s not—sometimes it can be fairly easy to be able to say, hey, we want to collaborate with you, and other times it can be extremely difficult and tenuous. But continuing to demonstrate and show the level of learning or how that community is continuously being engaged is something that’s very important because, in my opinion, I think that sometimes, you know, we have a hard time of showing all the great work that we’re doing, and in order for us to be able to partner and work more with community members we also have to show the research and demonstrate and be able to present this so people understand what we are trying to do. So there are times that it is challenging, and there are some things that will work with some communities and some things that will not. So where then are you able to then find what can work and how you can make it happen, and then from there be able to build up from there—from the ground up. So yeah, so there are some communities where you can do, like, one to ten things and then other communities that you can do one to three things and, hopefully, that you can start to do four or five, but then how do you still provide that access and education and equity as well. FASKIANOS: Brian, what would you say are the—in your opinion, the global issues students are most interested in? And, you know, if a college can only take on or faculty can only take on one issue that they’re trying to push, you know, what would be the one, or to drive a—foster more civic engagement? What do you think would be a viable and a good starting—steppingstone to sort of expand this into their community and both on campus and off? MATEO: Wow. That’s a great question, Irina. I would say that students are very interested in gender equity, LGBT. They’re also very interested in making sure that underrepresented populations are included in conversations, as well as awareness in disability. An all-encompassing issue that students are also passionate about because most of them experience this globally every day is climate change, and making sure that, you know, how we can engage students through there. So that—so out of everything that I mentioned, this also encompasses these issues as a major one, and Bard, through the Open Society University Network, is actually having a global teach-in, which is—you can find this in the Solve Climate by ’30 and I can send the link to Irina as well—where all colleges and universities can come in and do a global teach-in and as well get resources, and we’re providing opportunities for students around the world to also be able to receive opportunity to get engaged, too. So we’re doing this in March, and we’re trying to get a robust number of institutions to participate in this because climate doesn’t only affect, you know, our living environment, but it also affects students’ educational pursuits. Harvard conducted a study called Heat and Learning that showed that for every degree Fahrenheit that goes up student learning goes down by 1 percent. It’s also shown disparities that—you know, climate change also has, you know, a disproportionate effect on young people of color because of regions where people live in cold and hot environments, as well as disparities when it comes to gender. Women are more likely to be taken out of the classroom when there are climate change disasters to be caretakers, and we’re also seeing a rise in child marriages because of that, too. You know, it also—you also talk about sanitation when it comes to climate change and educational environments. You know, if you start to—if your building starts to get moldy and also if students start to get sick because of the infrastructure or it gets too hot, you’re going to see an increased rate of students showing up—not showing up and being absent or dropout rates as well. So climate change exacerbates or, as it’s called, a threat multiplier, and this is something that as higher education administrators we have to also make sure that we are—that we’re constantly thinking and showing how can we, based on students’ interests, can help to solve climate as well. FASKIANOS: Great. So if others have questions—Manuel, I don’t know if you had a follow-on. You said you would cede the floor but you can come back on. You can raise your hand or write—type your question in the Q&A box, or I could ask more. Just waiting to see if Manuel wanted to come back in. OK. There is a—oh, Manuel said his question was answered. OK. Great. So—sorry, I’m just looking—toggling a lot of things. All right. So my next question would be—you did talk about this earlier—you know, there has been a lot written about what is a college education worth, and I think this connection of the critical thinking and the internships and the experiential learning. But could you talk a little bit more about students’ educational performance and career path and how they can leverage these—you know, what they’re doing, civic engagement, into their future career plans? MATEO: Yes. Thank you. FASKIANOS: And then I have another random question. Mmm hmm. MATEO: Yes. So helping students to understand that some of the work that they do outside of a classroom could also translate both inside as well because when I have—when I see students when they’re thinking about their career path, they’re like, oh, but I’ve never done an internship before, or, oh, but I’ve never actually had a job here or there. But then when you start to look at the classes that they’re taking and the application piece in those courses, you can sort of say, yes, but you also in this course did storytelling of a community and also created a podcast. So this is also an application piece where you can add to your resume, too. So helping students to think and link experiential learning to application, and demonstrating that is definitely an added plus, and this is why a lot of these courses are also very popular and very highly rated for students because they’re starting—they start to see that they’re also gaining transferable skills while engaging in these courses, too, that they can then add to their resume and be able to speak to at an interview as well. Like, I’ll give you the example of the community needs assessment that the students that I work with conduct. You know, they can talk about research. They can talk about, you know, being able to work with communities. They also have to interview a leader in that community, whether that be a politician or a school leader or anyone. You know, so there are skills that they can then say here are some tangible outcomes as a result of this assignment, and that’s why experiential learning can also help when it comes to merging career paths for students. FASKIANOS: Great. So a few more questions in the chat. Jim Zaffiro, who is at Central College, has asked what recommendations would you have for incorporating civic engagement into a common first-year experience course? MATEO: Mmm hmm. Yes. So looking back at Astin’s model of input-environment-outputs, right, so we need to figure out, like, you know, how can we create a baseline for students to best understand what it means to be civically engaged and the environments piece of it. So what I would say, making sure that they understand the community they’re a part of, what are some of the issues and needs, providing reflection for them to talk about how they have been engaged, how do they see themselves as engaged citizens and providing opportunities for them to get exposure to working with community members and working outside of the community as well. So we do this starting from our orientational language and thinking, where we start to not only provide articles and readings on this but we’re also getting students to volunteer and get—and having students to think about how they want—how they want to be involved, and showing them a lot of the student-led initiatives that we offer that they can either get involved or start on their own. And then throughout the first year they also have what’s called the Citizen Science Program, which is a January term, where students start to see how science and citizenship come together and work together. And during that time, we also have our MLK Day of Engagement, which is a day for students to also go out and volunteer into the community and reflect on their volunteer work as well. So that’s kind of how we’ve embedded a lot of engagement for our first-years to making sure that we’re providing them with engagement, adding courses for them to think about what does it mean to be engaged in either a civic engagement course or experiential learning courses and opportunities throughout the year for them to be involved, which, ultimately, we were then promoting for them how they can—how they can apply for these community action awards and also for the summer, but also what are ways for them to get engaged through the broader OSUN network. FASKIANOS: Great. How has the pandemic exacerbated preexisting community needs? How have you at Bard deepened students’ civic engagement in order to help alleviate the pandemic-related effects that we are seeing in our communities? MATEO: Yes, and as we all know, when it comes to community-based work in civic engagement, you know, we all had to, you know, come indoors, and we had this notion that we had to be there to be able to engage with the community. So we developed—and this is also part of our civic engagement website—a tool kit on how to do engagement virtually, how to be able to do blended learning as well, and making sure that we still had a commitment to our community leaders. And our community partners also were able to come into our classes via Zoom and engage with students as well, and we helped students find virtual engagement, whether it be tutoring, whether it be, you know, helping to analyze something and sending it back. So these were some of the ways. But it did definitely create a halt, though we quickly found ways to not only build and provide resources but also pivot and making sure that we provide opportunities for students that were online and making sure that we showed a commitment to our partners as well. FASKIANOS: So John Dietrich at Bryant University asks for examples, more examples in practice of bringing experiential learning into the classroom, so if you could put some— MATEO: Yes. Yeah, so we have a course that’s called All Politics is Local and what we do in that—and what the faculty members do in that course is that they’re able to pair students with local internships in different government organizations, so not only are students learning about local government in the class but they’re actually interning at the same time in different local governments. Another example of a professor that teaches studio arts is a class called Portraits and Community where they get to talk to community members and identify the history of that community, also talk with Congress—with a member of Congress while painting these community members and learning their stories, learning how to tell their stories but using art as a way of engagement. Another example is being able to develop tool kits, so, for example, looking at, you know, if you’re a professor in biology or in chemistry and you have a local river or you have, you know, an ecosystem or environment, you know, how has that changed throughout the years and how can students create experiments and be able to then provide knowledge for local leaders or community members to see if there has been change that has been happening there? So I hope that this gives you some examples of community-based learning and education when it comes to doing it in the classroom. Podcasts have also been something that have been very important because students not only learn the skill on how to run a podcast and how to do a podcast, but then they also get to interview community members and do it—and be able to speak and provide the opportunity for storytelling as well. FASKIANOS: Can you talk a little bit about the role civic engagement plays in international students’ educational experience? I mean, a lot of campuses have international students, and what does it mean for them and what are they taking back to their countries? MATEO: Yeah, so working with the OSUN network I’ve learned a lot about what other campuses have been doing and how they do civic engagement, and at some campuses civic engagement is embedded from the beginning. They are taking courses, they have to graduate with a certain amount of hours to be able to get their degree, you know, and some institutions in the United States do that, some don’t per se, you know, so—and then also thinking about what—so for them also thinking about what does it mean to be engaged in their communities, and what are some of the work that they are doing as well? So civic engagement can look differently, so some of it can be tutoring. Some of it can be, you know, mostly youth engagement. A lot of it can be gender equity and working to raise awareness on gender issues. So there has been a great sense of education knowledge on my part on seeing how other institutions work on civic engagement. At the same time, it’s also great because we’re able to talk about civic engagement and develop that baseline and learn how we can grow together, and what are some things that they’re doing that we can do and vice versa? So that—so I would say that in some institutions globally, civic engagement is embedded from the beginning and students have to make sure that they are taking courses on engagement. Some of them have, like, first-year sophomore-, junior-, senior-level seminars on engagement, and then others, you have to have a requirement of graduation for a certain amount of hours. So that’s how, kind of, it’s worked. FASKIANOS: Brian, you talked about inputs and outputs and metrics, so have you measured how civic engagement, the programs that you’re doing are affecting students’ perspectives on diversity, equity, and inclusion? MATEO: Yes, we have, actually, and—I have this here in my notes—yes, and 89 percent of them say that it has created an awareness of social justice issues and it has also enhanced their learning. So we’re seeing that this is something that is showing and demonstrating that by engaging, and also at times engaging with difference, it has helped their learning. And over 90 percent of students say that they would continue to engage our—engage with arts and science courses or experiential courses as a result of that. FASKIANOS: Do you do that survey after each semester or is it at the end of the academic year? How are you doing that? MATEO: Yeah, so we do that survey at the end of each semester when it comes to faculty courses. When it comes to the engagement that students are doing outside of the classroom we also try to assess that, too, which I do midway and also at the end, and some students also do culminating projects, as well, that they are incorporating—at the end of their academic career they are talking about how civic engagement has helped them. So an example of that is—and this is the certificate in civic engagement that we’ve recently launched. You know, students will be able to apply for what’s called an engaged senior project grant that they can get funding to be able to add civic engagement into their final project too, so that’s—we’re measuring and seeing how many students are interested and want to be able to engage in that. So I would say all together we are doing—you know, and sometimes, you know, we capture a lot of data and sometimes, you know, so we try to make sure that we’re doing it as holistic as possible but we do it at the end, so at the end of each semester if a course qualifies as experiential learning, we are doing—so it’s a separate evaluation outside of the normal class evaluation, and then we start to see and look at the metrics and what students have learned and, like, now we can start to gather and tell stories behind, you know, what these courses are doing. FASKIANOS: Great. So we have a follow-up question from Manuel Montoya: How does experiential learning and community engagement avoid essentializing the communities you engage with? On a related note, how does one navigate who gets to represent community needs when working on issues of engagement? MATEO: Yeah, this is a very, very, very, like, a thin line. Right? And it comes, again, with mutual respect, reciprocity, active listening. Some of the time community partners come to us and say, hey, we have a need and then we evaluate it and see how we can help that need. Other times, faculty or even students are like, hey, here is something that we should be working on and then we do that. Right? So an example of that is the Bard Prison Initiative. A student came and said, hey, look, we should be working on this and then it became an institutional part of Bard and now it’s one of the largest prison education programs for incarcerated individuals across the nation. You know, so—and it takes a lot of reflecting and making sure that the community’s needs are also in the forefront, because we don’t want to usurp or take on, you know, or say, like, oh, this is ours now. No, this is “in collaboration with.” This is not a “we do this” per se. So that’s why we have developed the principles of equity, and I’ll share that, as well, with Irina so you can get a sense—that talks about this is, how can we make this equitable? How can we acknowledge and reflect on the work that we’re doing? How do we—how are we not making sure that we’re showing up and saying, like, oh, look, we’re here, as like, you know, how—saving a community. But no, we’re here to help enhance a community while they’re enhancing our learning and providing assistance for us as well. So it has to be reciprocal in order for you to maintain a deep and sustained relationship. FASKIANOS: Great. And I’m just going to flag—I don’t know if people are looking at the Q&A but Chip Pitts was building on what you talked about the importance of climate as a health issue. There’s a study that’s worth looking at, www.thelancet.com/countdown-health-climate, so you can look there. MATEO: Thank you, Chip. FASKIANOS: We do have another comment. I’ve benefited immensely from this discussion, bringing to fore the relevance of community engagement for students and faculty. I’m seeing new areas I can suggest for experiential learning to my institution. Terrific. That’s great. MATEO: Thank you. I’m glad. FASKIANOS: Really appreciate that from NenpoSarah Gowon—and the last name is cut off. All right, so I wanted to ask you about—in your view, do you—I mean, you’ve been doing this for a long time. What do you see as the challenges that you’ve faced in sort of bringing this along in your community? And what have been the unexpected surprises and the receptivity to this approach of experiential learning and critical thinking, et cetera? MATEO: Thank you. That’s an excellent question and here’s reflection, you know, as we talk about experiential learning. Right? So I would say that my—so I was—so I’m fortunate enough to be able to work with the OSUN network to be in—and become a lifelong learner myself and learn how other institutions have been doing this. And going back to what Manuel was alluding to is that when something is new it’s hard to bring in change. Right? So when asking people, hey, do you want to teach a course on experiential learning or asking a student, hey, do you want to also do this type of civic engagement work, what sometimes is heard is, oh, this is more work; this is going to be too hard. Right? So how do you show those benefits, right? And in the beginning, initial stages, it’s going to be an uphill battle. But once you have one or two or a group of people doing it and talking about how great it is and how their students are engaged—like, in some of the assessments students are asking for more time in those courses because they’re like, this is so—this is great, that we want to make sure that we meet more or we want to make sure we have more time to do—to engage in these courses, so now we’re seeing that students want more of these courses and not just of the courses in general but maybe adding a third section instead of just meeting two times a week per se. You know? And then—and funding can also be something that’s very—that can be challenging because, you know, you need to make this a commitment in saying, like, yes, we are going to fund, let’s say, for example, thirty student internships over the summer because we believe that this is going to help engage their learning. We believe this is going to create an opportunity for them moving forward. Right? So—and researcher—sometimes, you know, if you’re in a metropolitan area, it’s easier for you to say, yeah, we’re going to go to a museum or we’re going to go to this community because we can all just take public transportation. But if you’re in a rural environment, you’re relying on vans and buses and so on and so forth, and that can sometimes run you $500 to $2,000 per visit, you know. So you also have to think really strategically and think smarter, not harder, and how are you engaging? Right? Because one of the detriments is that great, we went to one community once and as a result of that, like, what would happen—because, again, it goes back to sustained, deepening relationships, so those are some of the things that can be some of the challenges. Some of the breakthroughs for me is when you start to see the learning connect, when a student’s like, you know—you know, I once had someone from the New York City’s mayor’s office come speak to the students in my class and it really warmed my heart when a student was like, I didn’t know that I had access; I didn’t realize that someone like me could be able to speak to someone from the mayor’s office. And I’m like, but you’re also a citizen of New York City and this is what—you know, so there was that disconnect for the student; it was like, wow, I can do this. Another student wants to—is pursuing, you know, a degree in political science and stuff like that. You know, or even when a student did a research project on the tolls of the taxi in New York City because that student felt they had a personal connection to this, and then they were able to see how, you know, some stories were similar to what—to the narrative that they had and be able to then share some possible solutions and show that they can also be active citizens and engage and be empowered. That is the other piece that, like, once you see that people start to be empowered, they want to continue doing this work and it’s, you know, my job and the job of others at other higher education institutions to continue to empower and continue to provide opportunities and shed light, you know, because some of this is also exposure. You know, thinking about outputs; it’s like sometimes you know what you know, but then when you meet a professor that’s doing some type of research that you’re just like, wow, this is so intriguing; I never knew I could do this. That’s something that is also very influential for the student. And I’ll give you a personal anecdote about myself. I myself have been an experiential learner. You know, I went to college and I got my master’s in higher ed administration, but all of a sudden I’m working with international communities, I’m also part of the Council on Foreign Relations doing research on climate, and teaching experiential learning. And that is as evidenced by Bard being a private college for public interest, and also enabling us to be a part of the system that we ourselves can be experiential learners and be able to do different things and sometimes, you know, like, not necessarily shift our careers but find new interests, because this is what we want to do and develop the system that can be reciprocal for our students, faculty, staff, and community. FASKIANOS: Well, with that, we’ve reached the end of our hour. Brain Mateo, thank you very much for sharing what you’re doing at Bard, your stories, and we will circulate to everybody the resources that you mentioned, and, you know, just want to thank you for your dedication. And to everybody on this call, I mean, it really has brought home for me the important work that you all are doing to raise the next generation of leaders, and we need them and you all are role models for young adults who, as somebody said, their parents have never gone to college and really need some guidance on next steps. So thank you to you, Brian, and to everybody on this call for what you’re doing in your communities. We will share Brian’s email address and you can follow him on Twitter at @brianmateo. So I encourage you to follow him there. Our next Higher Education Webinar will be in November, and we will send the topic speaker and date under separate cover. And so I encourage you to follow us, @CFR_Academic on Twitter, and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for more resources. And of course, as always, you can email [email protected], with suggestions of future topics or speakers you would like to hear from. We’re trying to be a resource for all of you and support you and the important work that you are doing. So Brian, thank you again. MATEO: Thank you. And I’ll make sure to share resources with you. Have a great day. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. (END)

Experts in this Keyword

Richard Haass
Richard Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

Charles A. Kupchan
Charles A. Kupchan

Senior Fellow

Sheila A. Smith
Sheila A. Smith

John E. Merow Senior Fellow for Asia Pacific Studies

  • Russia
    Academic Webinar: Constraining Putin’s Russia
    Play
    Thomas Graham, distinguished fellow at CFR, leads a conversation on constraining Putin’s Russia. FASKIANOS: Welcome to today’s session of the CFR Fall 2021 Academic Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s meeting is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website CFR.org/academic if you would like to share it with your colleagues or classmates. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Thomas Graham with us to talk about Putin’s Russia. Mr. Graham is a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior advisor at Kissinger Associates, where he focuses on Russian and Eurasian affairs. He is cofounder of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies program at Yale University, and is also a research fellow at the MacMillan Center at Yale. He previously served as special assistant to President George W. Bush and senior director for Russia on the National Security Council staff from 2004 to 2007, and director for Russian affairs from 2002 to 2004. His résumé is very distinguished. I will just also say that he is a U.S. diplomat who served two tours of duty in Moscow, where he worked on political affairs. So, Mr. Graham, thanks very much for being with us today. I thought you could get us started by talking about the primary interests at stake in U.S.-Russia relations. GRAHAM: Great. Thank you very much, Irina, for that introduction, and it’s a real pleasure to be with all of you here today. I want to start with three broad points that will frame the rest of our discussion. The first is that the problem that the United States faces is not simply with Putin; it is with Russia more generally speaking. The last seven years of very difficult, challenging adversarial relationship is really not an aberration in the history of the relationship between our two countries. In fact, from the moment the United States emerged as a major power on the global stage at the very end of the nineteenth century, we have had a rivalry with Russia. And the issues that divide us today are the ones that divided us 125, 150 years ago: We have opposing worldviews. We have different geopolitical interests. And clearly, we have different systems of values that inform our domestic political systems. This rivalry has intensified, ebbed and flowed during the twentieth century. But the effort we made at partnership after the breakup of the Soviet Union up until 2014, marked by the eruption of the crisis in Ukraine, is really the aberration in the history of relations between our two countries and one that was founded very much on the fact that Russia endured a period of strategic weakness. So the issue we have to deal with Russia and how we’re going to deal with Russia well into the future, even after Putin departs—which he will, obviously, at some point, if only for biological reasons. The second point that I would make is that Russia is not going to go away. We hear a lot in the public debate in the United States about Russian decline, about the population/demographic problems it has, about its stagnating economy, and so forth. None of this is necessarily untrue, but I think it tends to exaggerate the problems that Russia faces. It ignores the problems that all other major countries face—including China, the United States, and many major European countries—but it also overlooks the very great strengths that Russia has had for decades that are going to make it a player and an important player on the global stage, nuclear weapons to begin with. We should never forget that Russia remains the only country that can destroy the United States as a functioning society in thirty minutes. Russia has the largest natural endowment of any country in the world, a country that can pretend to self-sufficiency and, in fact, is better placed than most other countries to deal with a breakdown in globalization in the decades to come if that, indeed, happens. It has a veto on the U.N. Security Council, which makes it an important player on issues of importance to the United States, and it has a talented population that has fostered a scientific community that, for example, is capable of taking advances in technology and developing the military applications from them. Just look at the strength that Russia exhibits in cyberspace, for example—again, a major challenge for the United States. So Russia is going to continue to be a challenge. One other thing that I should have mentioned here is that the Russian state throughout history and Putin’s Russia today has demonstrated a keen ability to mobilize the resources of their own society for state purposes. So even if in relative terms they may be weaker and weakening vis-à-vis China and the United States, in some ways that political will, that ability to mobilize, allows Russia to play a much larger role than mere indicators of its economic size and population size would suggest. Now, Russia clashes with the United States across a whole range of issues, and as I said that is going to continue for some time. And this brings me to my third point: How we should think about American foreign policy, what our guidelines should be in dealing with Russia. And here there are three, I think, key elements to this. First, the United States needs to preserve strategic stability. We need to have that nuclear balance between us (sic) and the United States. This is an existential question. And as I already mentioned, Russia does have a tremendous nuclear capability. Second, the United States should seek to manage its competition with Russia responsibly. We want to avoid or reduce the risk of a direct military conflict that could escalate to the nuclear level. This is—also, I think, recognizes that the United States is not going to be able to compel Russia to capitulate on issues that are of interest to us, nor are we going to be able to radically change the way they think about their own national interests. So it’s a competitive relationship and we need to manage that responsibly. And finally, given the complex world that we live in today—the very real transnational challenges we face: climate change, pandemic diseases, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—the United States should seek, to the extent possible, ways to cooperate with Russia in dealing with these issues. We should recognize that Russia is not necessarily the only player nor necessarily the most important player in dealing with these challenges, but it does have a role to play along with other major powers in handling these transnational issues. So those, I think, are three sort of broad points that help set the stage for our discussion. Now let me turn sort of very briefly to the questions about U.S. policy. How do we deal with this Russia? What are sort of—the way we should think about American foreign policy? And here the point I would make is that we should think of the policy in terms of what I would call the three Ds: defense, deterrence, and dialogue. Now, defense and deterrence in many ways go together. If you have a very good defense, if you demonstrate an ability and willingness to defend your interests effectively and deliberately, then you tend to deter another power. They have less reason to want to attack you. But if deterrence fails, you very much need to be able to defend yourself—to disrupt Russian operations in cyberspace, for example, or disrupt military operations by the Russians that you find problematic in some way. So defense and deterrence go together, and we need to think about that. Now, you build these elements on a number of other things that we’re all familiar with. A strong military—strong, capable military—is, obviously, an element of both defense and deterrence, and something that we have managed quite well in the past and I imagine will manage quite well going into the future. Cyber defenses are also an important element of constraining Russia on the global stage. Now, here the United States really has much room for improvement. We built our internet, our cyberspace largely for the accessibility, the ability to pass information from one entity to another, and we spent much less attention to the security of that system. As cyberspace has become more important to our socioeconomic and political lives, we really need to devote much more attention to cybersecurity, hardening our commuter—computer networks, for example, making sure we have strong passwords and so forth, something that I think we now recognize but we need to put a much greater effort into doing that. Third area of defense and deterrence is strong alliances. When we’re thinking about Russia, this is clearly the transatlantic community, NATO, our relations with our other European partners. And here, we need to develop the types of military/defense cooperation that we need to demonstrate quite clearly that the United States, along with the rest of the NATO allies, is ready and prepared to meet its Article 5 guarantees to collective security should the Russians do something that is untoward in our neighborhood. And then, finally, and I think of increasing importance, is the question of national unity. National unity, national resilience, has really become a key element in defense and deterrence at this point. We need to demonstrate to the Russians that we have sufficient national unity to clearly identify what our interests are and pursue them on the international stage. One of Putin’s close colleagues several years ago said that what Putin is doing is messing with the Americans’ minds, and certainly we’ve seen that over the past several years. Putin hasn’t sowed the discord in the United States, but he certainly has tried to exploit it for Russian purposes. And this is something that he’s going to concentrate on in the future, in part because he recognizes the dangers of military confrontation with the United States. So great-power competition, from the Kremlin’s standpoint, is going to move very, very quickly from the kinetic realm to the cyber realm, and we need to be able to deal with that. So building national unity at home, overcoming our polarization, is really perhaps one of the key steps in constraining Russia on the global stage. And then, finally, some very brief words about dialogue. We tend to downplay this in our national discussion. Many believe that diplomatic relations are—should not be branded as a reward for bad behavior. But I think if you look at this objectively, you’ll see that diplomatic relations are very important as a way of defending and advancing our national concerns. It’s a way that we can convey clearly to the Russians what our expectations are, what our goals are, what our redlines are, and the responses that we’re capable of taking if Russia crosses them. At the same time, we can learn from the Russians what their goals are, what their motivations are, what their redlines are, and we can factor that into our own policy. This is a major element of managing the competition between our two countries responsibly. You’ll see that we have begun to engage in negotiations and diplomacy with the Russians much more under President Biden than we did under President Trump. We’ve already launched strategic stability talks with the aim of coming up with a new concept of strategic stability that’s adequate to the strategic environment of the present day and the near future. We’ve engaged in cybersecurity talks, which my understanding is have, in fact, had some success over the past several weeks. Where we, I think, have lagged is in the discussion of regional issues—Europe, Ukraine, the Middle East, for example. These are areas where there is still potential for conflict, and the United States and Russia ought to be sitting down and talking about these issues on a regular basis. So three Ds—defense, deterrence, and diplomacy or dialogue—are the ways that we should be thinking about our relationship with Russia. And obviously, we’ll need to adjust each of these three elements to the specific issue at hand, whether it be in Europe, whether it be in the nuclear realm, cyberspace, and so forth. Now, with that as a way—by way of introduction, I am very pleased to entertain your questions. FASKIANOS: Tom, thanks very much for that terrific overview and analysis. We’re going to go to all of you now for your questions. You can either raise your hand by clicking on the icon, and I will call on you, and you can tell us what institution you are with; or you can type your question in the Q&A box, although if you want to ask it you can raise your hand. We encourage that. And if you’re typing your question, please let us know what college or university you’re with. So I’m going to take the first raised-hand question from Babak Salimitari. And unmute yourself. Q: Can you guys hear me? GRAHAM: Yes. FASKIANOS: Yes. Q: Hello. I’m a third-year UCI student, economics. I have a question. I’m going to sound a bit like Sean Hannity here, so please forgive me, but I have a question about that Nord Stream 2 pipeline that you constantly hear on the news, and it just doesn’t make that much sense for me of why this pipeline was allowed to be completed into the heart of Europe considering Russia’s strength with natural gases and the leverage that they have over Europe with that pipeline. Why was that allowed to be completed? GRAHAM: Well, I think from the standpoint of the Biden administration this was a matter of what we call alliance management. Germany is clearly a key ally for the United States in Europe, and the Germans were very committed to the completion of that pipeline, starting with Chancellor Angela Merkel down through I think both the leading political parties and the German business community. So I think they made the decision for that. But let me step back because I’d like to challenge a lot of the assumptions about the Nord Stream 2 project here in the United States, which I think misconceive it, misframe the question, and tend to exaggerate the dangers that is poses. The first point that I would make is that Europe now and in the future will have and need Russian gas. It’s taken a substantial amount in the past—in the past decades, and even as it moves forward towards a green revolution it will continue to take considerable amounts of Russian gas. It can’t do without that gas. So the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, contrary to what you hear in the United States or at the U.S. Congress, I don’t think poses an additional threat to Europe’s energy security, no larger than the threat that was posed before that pipeline was completed. The Europeans, I think are aware of the problems that that poses, and they’ve taken steps over the past several years to integrate the gas—the gas distribution network in Europe, to build facilities to import liquified natural gas, all as a way of eroding the leverage that Gazprom might have had over energy markets in Europe. And that has been quite successful over the past—over the past several years. Now, I think, you know, the other issue that comes up in the discussion in the United States is Ukraine, because Nord Stream 2 clearly provides Russia with a way to import the gas into Europe and bypass Ukraine at the—at the same time. And Ukraine is going to suffer a significant loss in budgetary revenue because of the decline in transit fees that it gets from the transportation of Russian gas across its territory. You know, that is a problem, but there are ways of dealing with that: by helping Ukraine fill the budgetary gap, by helping Ukraine transition away from a reliance on gas to other forms of energy, of helping Ukraine develop the green-energy resources that will make it a much more important partner in the European energy equation than it is now. And then finally, you know, it strikes me as somewhat wrongheaded for Ukraine to put itself in a position where it is reliant on a country that is clearly a belligerent for a significant part of its federal revenue. So we need to think hard with the Ukrainians about how they deal with this issue, how they wean themselves off Russian transit fees, and then I think we have a situation where we can help Ukraine, we can manage the energy-security situation in Europe, we can reduce any leverage that Russia might have, and that Nord Stream 2 really doesn’t pose a significant risk to the United States or our European allies over the long run. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We’re going to take the next question from the written queue from Kenneth Mayers, who’s at St Francis—sorry, that just popped away; oh, sorry—St. Francis College. Thinking beyond this triangular framework, what pathways and possibilities can be envisioned for a more positive dimension of working together in mutually, even globally, beneficial ways? GRAHAM: What triangular relationship are we talking about? FASKIANOS: His—thinking beyond this triangular framework and— GRAHAM: Oh, OK. So I think it’s defense, deterrence, and diplomacy is the— FASKIANOS: Correct. GRAHAM: OK. Can you repeat the final part of the question, then? FASKIANOS: What pathways and possibilities can be envisioned for a more positive dimension of working together in mutually beneficial ways? GRAHAM: Well, there are a number of areas in which we can work together beneficially. If you think about proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, for example, the United States and Russia over the past two decades have played a major role in both securing weapons that were located in Russia, but also in securing highly-enriched uranium that was in Soviet-designed reactors throughout the former Soviet space. We have taken a lead together in setting down rules and procedures that reduce the risk of nuclear material—fissile material getting into the hands of terrorist organizations. And we have played a role together in trying to constrain the Iranian nuclear program. Russia played an instrumental role in the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that we signed in 2015 that the Trump administration walked away with, but they will continue to play a role in constraining Iranians’ nuclear ambitions going forward. And we’ve also worked in a cooperative fashion in dealing with the North Korean nuclear program. So there are areas in nonproliferation where the two countries can work together. On climate change, I mean, I think the big challenge for the United States is actually persuading Russia that climate change is a significant threat to their own security. They’re slowly beginning to change that view, but as they come around to recognizing that they have to deal with climate change there are a number of areas where the two countries can cooperate. One of the things that climate is doing is melting the permafrost. That is destabilizing the foundation of much of Russia’s energy infrastructure in areas where gas and oil are extracted for export abroad. The United States has dome technologies that the Russians might find of interest in stabilizing that infrastructure. They suffer from problems of Siberian fires—peat-bog fires, forest fires—an area that, obviously, is of concern to the United States as well. And there may be room for cooperation there, two. And then, finally, you know, the United States and Russia have two of the leading scientific communities in the entire world. We ought to be working together on ways that we can help mitigate the consequences of climate change going forward. So I see an array of areas where the two countries could cooperate, but that will depend on good diplomacy in Washington and a receptivity on the part of the Russians which we haven’t seen quite yet. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Let’s go next to Jeffrey Ko. You can unmute yourself. Thank you. Q: Hi. So I’m Jeffrey Ko. I’m an international relations master’s student at Carnegie Mellon. And my question has to deal with these private military forces, and especially the Wagner Group. And so I would like to know, you know, how does this play into our security strategy regarding Russia in countries that have seen proxy warfare? And how does this—how difficult will it be to engage with Russia either diplomatically or militarily on the use of these gray-zone tactics, and specifically utilizing the Wagner Group as an informal branch of Russia’s military? GRAHAM: Well, look, I mean, I do think that we need, one, to sit down and have a discussion with Russia about the use of these private military forces, particularly the Wagner firm, which has played a significant role in a number of conflicts across the globe in the Middle East, Africa, and in Latin America. But we also ought to help the countries that are of interest to us deal with the problems that the Wagner Group causes. You know, the United States had to deal with the Wagner Group in Syria during the Syrian civil war. You know, despite the fact that we had a deconfliction exercise with the Russians at that point, tried to prevent military conflicts between our two militaries operating in close proximity, when the Wagner forces violated those strictures and actually began to attack a U.S. facility, we had no hesitation about using the force that we had to basically obliterate that enemy. And the Wagner Group suffered casualties numbering in the hundreds, one to two hundred. I think the Russians got the message about that, that you don’t—you don’t mess with the United States military, certainly not while using a private military company like Wagner. You know, in places like Libya, where Wagner is quite active, I think the United States needs a major diplomatic effort to try to defuse the Libyan crisis. And part of the solution to that would be negotiating an agreement that calls for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces and certainly private military groups from Libyan territory, and lean on the Russians to carry that through. In any event, you know, this is not going to be an easy issue to resolve. I think we deal with this by—country by country, and we focus our attention on those countries where our national interests are greatest. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Jill Dougherty, who’s at Georgetown University. The Putin administration appears to be hardening its control of Russia’s society with the purpose of keeping Putin in power at least until 2036. Most recent example is the Duma elections that just took place. Will this crackdown domestically affect or damage U.S.-Russia relations? GRAHAM: Thank you, Jill. Always a good question and always a difficult question to answer. You know, I think the issue here is the extent to which the Biden administration wants to make the domestic political situation in Russia a key item on its agenda with Russia over the next—over the next few years. You know, my impression from the conversations I’ve had with people in the administration—in and around the administration is that President Biden is not going to focus on this. You know, his focus really is going to be China, and what he wants to do is maintain something of a status quo in the relationship with Russia. You will notice that the second round of sanctions that the United States levied with regard to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, something that was mandated by U.S. law, were actually quite mild—much less extreme, much less punitive than the legislation allowed—I think a signal that the Biden administration was not going to let domestic political issues in Russia overwhelm the agenda that the United States has, which is going to be focused on strategic stability, cyber issues, and so forth. So my immediate reaction is that the Duma election is really not going to have a dramatic impact on the state of the relationship between our two countries. We accept the fact that Russia is an authoritarian system. It is becoming more authoritarian. We will continue to try to find ways to support those elements of civil society we can, but always being careful not to do it in ways that causes the Russian government to crack down even harder on those individuals. This is a very sort of difficult needle to thread for the United States, but I think that’s the way we’ll go and you won’t see this as a major impediment to the improvement of relations—which, as we all know, are at a very low level at this point in any event. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. Let’s go next to Sujay Utkarsh. Q: Hi, yeah. Can you hear me? GRAHAM: Yes. FASKIANOS: Yes. Q: Awesome. So, regarding the issue about cyber warfare, I was wondering if you can go into more detail about what advantages the Russians have in cyberspace and what the United States can do to compete with those advantages. GRAHAM: A good question and a difficult question for people outside the government to answer, since we’re not privy to all the information about Russian cyber capabilities nor are we privy to the information about American cyber capabilities. Both countries cloak those programs in a great deal of secrecy. You know, it seemed to me that one of the advantages that perhaps Russia has is that it’s a much more closed society than the United States. Now, I’m thinking simply in terms of the way societies can be disrupted through cyberspace. We’re a much more open society. It’s easier to access our internet. We are—just as I mentioned before, we are a polarized society right now. That allows Russia many avenues into our domestic political system in order to exacerbate the tensions between various elements in our society. The United States can’t reply in the same way in dealing with Russia. You know, second, Russia, in building its own internet, its own cyberspace, has paid much more attention to security than the United States has. So, you know, I would presume that its computer systems are somewhat harder to penetrate than American systems are at this point, although another factor to take into account here is that much of the initial effort in building up cyberspace—the Web, the computer networks—in Russia was built with American technology. You know, the Googles, the Intels, and others played an instrumental role in providing those types of—that type of equipment to the Russians. So I wouldn’t exaggerate how much stronger they are there. And then, finally, I think what is probably one of the strengths, if you want to call it that, is that Russia is probably a little more risk-prone in using its cyber tools than the United States is at this point, in part because we think as a society we’re more vulnerable. And that does give Russia a slight advantage. That said, this shouldn’t be a problem that’s beyond the capability of the United States to manage if we put our minds to it. We have done a lot more over the past several years. We are getting better at this. And I think we’ll continue to improve in time and with the appropriate programs, the appropriate education of American society. FASKIANOS: Thank you. The next question is a written one from Kim-Leigh Tursi, a third-year undergraduate at Temple University. Where do you see Russia in relation to the rise of China, and how does that affect how the U.S. might approach foreign policy toward Russia? GRAHAM: Well, you know, that’s an important question, obviously one that a lot of people have focused on recently. You know, Russia and China have developed a very close working strategic relationship over the—over the past several years, but I think we should note that the Russian effort to rebuild its relations with China go back to the late Soviet period to overcome the disadvantages that then the Soviet Union felt they had because of the poor relationship with China and the ability of the United States to exploit that relationship to Moscow’s detriment. So relations have been improving for the past twenty-five, thirty years; obviously, a dramatic acceleration in that improvement after 2014 and the breakdown in relations between Russia and the West. Now, there are a number of reasons for this alignment at this point. One, the two countries do share at a very general level a basic view of for—a basic dislike of what they see as American ambitions to dominate the global—the global security and economic environment. They don’t like what they consider to be American hegemonic goals. Second, the economies seem to be complementary at this point. Russia does have a wealth of natural resources that the Chinese need to fuel their robust economic growth. You have similar domestic political systems. And all of this, I think, is reinforced by what appears to be a very good personal relationship between President Putin and President Xi Jinping. These two leaders have met dozens of times over the past five to seven years and have maintained, I think, very robust contact even during the—during the pandemic. So there are very good strategic reasons why these two countries enjoy good relations. They are going to step those up in the near term. The Russians are continuing to provide the Chinese with significant sophisticated military equipment. They’ve also undertaken to help the Chinese build an early warning system for ballistic missiles, and when that’s completed it will make China only the third country in the world to have such a system along with Russia and the United States. Now, I would argue that this strategic alignment does pose something of a challenge to the United States. If you look at American foreign policy or American foreign policy tradition, one of the principles that has guided the United States since the end of the nineteenth century, certainly throughout the twentieth century, was that we needed to prevent the—any hostile country or coalition of hostile countries from dominating areas of great strategic importance, principally Europe, East Asia, and more recently the Middle East. A Russian-Chinese strategic alignment certainly increases the chances of China dominating East Asia. Depending on how close that relationship grows, it also could have significant impact on Europe and the way Europe relates to this Russian-Chinese bloc, and therefore to the United States as a whole. So we should have an interest in trying to sort of attenuate the relationship between the two countries. At a minimum, we shouldn’t be pursuing a set of policies that would push Russia closer to China. Second, I think we ought to try to normalize our diplomatic relationship with the Russians. Not that we’re necessarily going to agree on a—on a range of issues at this point, but we need to give the Russians a sense that they have other strategic options than China going forward—something that would, I think, enhance their bargaining position with the Chinese going forward and would complicate China’s own strategic calculus, which would be to our advantage. I think we also should play on Russia’s concerns about strategic autonomy, this idea that Russia needs to be an independent great power on the global stage, that it doesn’t want to be the junior partner or overly dependent on any one country as a way, again, of attenuating the tie with China. The one thing that I don’t think we can do is drive a wedge between those two countries, in part because of the strategic reasons that I’ve mentioned already that bring these two countries together. And any very crude, I think, effort to do that will actually be counterproductive. Both Beijing and Moscow will see through that, quite clearly, and that will only lead to a closing of the ranks between those two countries, which as I said is a strategic challenge for the United States going forward. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Holli Semetko, who’s at Emory University. Polarization is something we must overcome, as you said, but those of us working on social media have some evidence to suggest that social media has fostered political polarization in the U.S. Yuri Milner, a Russian Israeli entrepreneur, invested in an early round of Facebook funding with help from VTB, a Russian state-controlled bank, as well as his investment in Jared Kushner’s real estate firm. What is the level of FDI from Russia in the U.S. and do you see it as a threat to national security? GRAHAM: Well, look, I mean, the actual level of Russian FDI in the United States is quite small. You know, you have some few, I think, good examples of it—the one that you’ve mentioned with Yuri Milner, for example. There was some investment in a steel factory some years ago. But by and large, there hasn’t been a significant amount of Russian foreign direct investment in the United States. I think our growing concerns about Russia have made us even more leery of allowing Russian investment, particularly in sectors that we consider critical to American national security. So I’m not deeply concerned about that going forward. I think we probably face a much greater challenge from the Chinese in that regard. Of course, you’ve seen efforts by the United States to deal more harshly or look more closely at Chinese investment in the United States over the past several years. Let me just make one sort of final point on social media since it’s come up. You know, Russia is a problem. We need to pay attention to Russia in that space. But again, I don’t think that we should exaggerate Russia’s influence, nor should we focus simply on Russia as the problem in this area. There is a major problem with disinformation in social media in the United States, much of that propagated by sources within the United States, but there are a host of other countries that also will try to affect U.S. public opinion through their intrusions into American social media. You know, given our concerns about First Amendment rights, freedom of speech and so forth, you know, I think we have problems in sort of really clamping down on this. But what we need to do, certainly, is better educate the American public about how to deal with the information that crosses their electronic devices day in and day out. Americans need to be aware of how they can be manipulated, and they need to understand and know where they can go to find reliable information. Again, given the political polarization in our country today, this is a very real challenge and difficult one. But I think if we think long term about this problem, the key really is educating the American public. An educated American public is going to be the best defense against foreign countries, other hostile forces trying to use social media to undermine our national unity and exacerbate the politics of our country. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Eoin Wilson-Manion, who’s raised his hand. Q: Hello. Can you hear me now? GRAHAM: Yes. FASKIANOS: Yes. Q: Awesome. Well, thank you. I just wanted to ask if you could touch a little bit more on Russia’s presence in Syria and what that means for U.S. interests in Syria and I guess the larger Middle East. I’m Eoin from Carnegie Mellon University. Thanks very much. GRAHAM: Well, you know, the Russians entered Syria in 2015 militarily largely to save Assad from what they thought was imminent overthrow by what they considered a radical Islamic force, a group of terrorists that they thought would challenge Russian interests not only in Syria but would fuel extremist forces inside Russia itself, particularly in the North Caucasus but farther afield than that—even into Moscow, into areas that were Muslim-dominated inside Russia itself. So they had very good national security reasons for going in. Those ran—I mean, the Russian presence in Syria clearly has run counter to what the United States was trying to do at that point since we clearly aligned against Assad in favor of what we considered moderate reformist forces that were seeking a more sort of democratic future for Syria as part of this broader Arab Spring at that time. So there was a clear conflict at that point. You know, subsequently and in parallel with its continued presence in Syria, the Russians have extended their diplomatic—their diplomatic effort to other countries in the region. Russia enjoys a fairly robust diplomatic relationship with Israel, for example, that has been grounded in counterterrorism cooperation, for example. They have a sort of strange relationship, largely positive, with Turkey that they have pursued over the past several years. We know of the ties that they’ve had in Tehran, in Iran for some time. They have reached out to the Saudis and the Saudis have bought some military equipment from them. We see them in Egypt and Libya, for example. So they’re a growing presence, a growing diplomatic presence in the Middle East, and this does pose some problems for the United States. From the middle of the 1970s onward, one of the basic thrusts of American foreign policy was to limit the role the Russians played in the Middle East. We sidelined them in the negotiations between the Arabs and the Israelis in the 1970s and in the 1980s. We limited their diplomatic contacts to countries that we considered critical partners and allies in that part of the world. Now I think the geopolitical situation has changed. Our own interest in the Middle East has diminished over time, in part because of the fracking revolution here in the United States. Gas and oil, we’ve got close to being independent in that area. We’re not as dependent on the Middle East as we once were for energy sources. And also, as, you know, the Biden administration has been clear, we do want to pivot away from the Middle East and Europe to focus more of our energies on what we see as the rising and continuing strategic challenge posed by China. So I think that means that going forward the United States is going to have to deal with Russia in a different fashion in the Middle East than in the past. We’re going to have to recognize them as a continuing presence. We’re not going to be able to push them out, in part because we’re not prepared to devote the resources to it. We have countries that are still important to us—Saudi Arabia, Israel for example—that do want a Russian presence in the Middle East. And so what we ought to do, it seems to me, is to begin that discussion about how we’re going to manage the rivalry in the Middle East. Now, it’s not all simply competition. There are areas for cooperation. We can cooperate in dealing with Iran, for example, the Iran nuclear dossier, as we have had in the past. Neither country has an interest in Iran developing nuclear weapons. Second, I think the two countries also would like to see a Middle East that’s not dominated by a single regional power. So despite the fact that the Russians have worked together quite closely with the Iranians in Syria, they don’t share Iranian ambitions elsewhere in the Middle East. And if you look at the diplomatic ties that the Russians have nurtured over the past with Turkey, with Israel, Saudi Arabia for example, none of these are friends of Iran, to put it mildly. So we can talk, I think, to the Russians of how our—you know, we can conduct ourselves so as to foster the development of a regional equilibrium in the Middle East that tends to stabilize that region, makes it less of a threat to either country, less of a threat to America’s European allies, and use this as a basis for, again, sort of not escalating the tension in the region but moderating it in some ways that works to the long-term advantage of the United States. FASKIANOS: Next question from Michael Strmiska, who’s a professor at Orange County Community College in New York state. Do you see any hope of persuading Russia to abandon its occupation of Crimea in the near term? Or do you think this is like the occupation of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia after World War II, where a very long timespan was needed before any liberation was realistically possible? GRAHAM: Well, I guess my answer to those two questions would be yes and no, or no and yes. On Crimea, you know, I see no sort of near-term scenario that would lead to the Russians agreeing to the return of Crimea to Ukraine. Quite the contrary, Russia has taken steps since 2014 they continue at this point to further integrate Crimea into the Russian Federation politically, economically, socially, and so forth. The Russians have also built up their military presence in Crimea as a way of enhancing their domination or their influence in the greater Black Sea region. So I see no set of circumstances that would change that, certainly not in the—in the near term. And I think, you know, the Ukrainian effort to focus attention on Crimea is not going to, in fact, gain a great deal of traction with Europe nor with the United States going forward, though we will maintain the principled position of not recognizing Russia’s incorporation or annexation of Crimea. You know, I don’t think that the Crimean and Baltic situations are necessarily analogous. You know, in the Baltic states there was a significant indigenous element, governments in exile, that supported the independence of those countries. There was a fulcrum that the United States or a lever that the United States could use over time to continue pressure on the Soviets that eventually led to the independence of those countries as the Soviet Union broke down and ultimately collapsed at the end of the 1980s into 1991. I don’t see any significant indigenous element in Crimea nor a movement of inhabitants of Crimea outside Crimea that wants Crimea to be returned to Ukraine. I think we need to remember that a significant part of the population in Ukraine is Russian military, retired Russian military, that feels quite comfortable in—within the Russian Federation at this point. So if I were being quite frank about this, although I think the United States should maintain its principled position and not recognize annexation of Crimea, I don’t see anything over the long term, barring the collapse of Russia itself, that will change that situation and see Ukraine (sic; Crimea) reincorporated into the Ukrainian state. FASKIANOS: So there are a couple questions in the chat about Russia’s economy: What is their economy like today? And what are the effects of the sanctions? And from Steve Shinkel at the Naval War College: How do you assess the tie between Russia’s economy and being able to continue to modernize its military and ensure a stable economy? And will economic factors and Russia’s demographic challenges be a future constraining factor? So if you could— GRAHAM: Yeah. No, no, just take the economy. Obviously, a big issue, and it will be a constraining factor. I mean, the Russian economy is stagnating and it has for some—for some time. They enjoyed—the Russian economy enjoyed a very rapid period of growth during President Putin’s first presidential—two presidential terms in the 2000s, but since the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 Russia has run into very difficult economic times. In fact, it’s never really recovered from that crisis. If you look at the past ten years, barely any growth in the Russian economy at all. If you look at the impact that that has had on Russians themselves, there’s basically been no growth in real disposable income; rather, a decline over the past six or seven years. I think the Russians recognize that. The question is whether they can come up with a set of policies that actually will reverse that and that lead to a more robustly growing economy. Now, what the Kremlin has tried to do is not so much reform the economy—which I think is necessary if they’re going to enjoy robust economic growth—as much as professionalize the economy; that is—that is, bring in a younger sort of cadre who are well educated, many of them educated in the West, who understand how modern economies function and can keep the economy stable at least at the macro level. And this is one of the reasons that Western sanctions have not had nearly the impact on Russian behavior that many had hoped for or anticipated back in 2014 when we began to turn repeatedly to this tool in response to Russian activities and operations against Ukraine. You know, it has had some impact. I think the IMF would say that it’s probably taken a percentage point off—or, not a percentage point, but a tenth of a percentage point off of Russia’s GDP growth over the past several years. That certainly hasn’t been enough to change Russian behavior. But it hasn’t been more, in fact, because the governors of the—of the central bank have dealt quite adeptly with that, and maintain said Russian macroeconomic stability and some sort of foundation for the economy to grow going forward. I imagine that’s going to continue into the—into the future as well. So it is a constraining factor. Then I would end with what I—with a point that I made in my introduction. Russia does have a tremendous ability to mobilize its resources for state purposes, to extract what it needs from society at large to modernize the military, to maintain certainly Russia’s defenses and also some capability to project power abroad. So I wouldn’t write them off because of that. I think it’s going—still going to be a serious power, but not nearly as great a challenge to the United States as if it, in fact, solved its demographic problems, its economic problems, and had a robustly growing economy, greater resources that it could devote to a whole range of things that would improve its standing on the global stage vis-à-vis the United States and vis-à-vis China. FASKIANOS: Well, with that we are at the end of our time. And I apologize to everybody. We had over twenty written questions still pending and raised hands. I’m sorry we couldn’t get to all of you, but we do try to end on time. So, Thomas Graham, thank you very much for sharing your insights and analysis with us today. We appreciate it. And to all of you for your terrific questions and comments, we appreciate it. Our next Academic Webinar will be on Wednesday, October 6, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And we will focus on the Indo-Pacific with Dhruva Jaishankar, who is the executive director of the Observer Research Foundation America and nonresident fellow at the Lowy Institute. And in the meantime, I encourage you to follow CFR at @CFR_Academic and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for new research and analysis on global issues. So, Tom, thank you very much. GRAHAM: Thank you. Good luck to all of you. (END)
  • Education
    Academic Webinar: Race in America and International Relations
    Play
    Travis L. Adkins, deputy assistant administrator for Africa at USAID and lecturer of African and security studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service and in the Prisons and Justice Initiative at Georgetown University, and Brenda Gayle Plummer, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, led a conversation on race in America and international relations. FASKIANOS: Welcome to the first session of the CFR Fall 2021 Academic Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Today’s meeting is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website CFR.org/academic if you would like to share it with your colleagues or classmates. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Travis Adkins and Brenda Gayle Plummer with us to discuss race in America and international relations. Travis Adkins is deputy assistant administrator in the Bureau of Africa at USAID, and lecturer of African and security studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, and in the Prisons and Justice Initiative at Georgetown University. As an international development leader, he has two decades of experience working in governance, civil society, and refugee and migration affairs in over fifty nations throughout Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Adkins was a CFR international affairs fellow and is a CFR member. Dr. Brenda Gayle Plummer is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research includes race and gender, international relations, and civil rights. Dr. Plummer has taught Afro-American history throughout her twenty years of experience in higher education. Previously she taught at Fisk University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Minnesota. And from 2001 to 2005, Dr. Plummer served on the Historical Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of State. So, thank you both for being with us today. We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Travis, I thought we could begin with you to talk about the ways in which you’ve seen race relations in America influence U.S. foreign policy. ADKINS: Sure. Thank you so much, Irina. And welcome to everyone. Thank you for joining. The first thing I would say is that America’s long history of violence, exclusion, and barbarism towards Black people and indigenous people and Asian communities and immigrant communities in the United States have worked to give the lie to the notion of who we say we are in terms of freedom, in terms of democracy, in terms of the respect for human rights. And these are the core messages that we seek to project in our foreign policy. And we’ve not been able to resolve those contradictions because we have refused to face this history, right? And we can’t countenance a historical narrative in which we are not the heroes, not the good guys, not on the right side of history. And the challenge that we’ve had is that we’ve seen that play out in so many ugly ways domestically. But it also has resonance and relevance in our foreign policy, because what it ends up doing is essentially producing a foreign policy of platitudes and contradictory posturing on the issues of human rights, on the issues of racial justice, on the issues of democratic governance when the world can see not only this history but this present reality of racial discrimination, of police brutality, of efforts to suppress the political participation of specific groups of people inside of America. They can see children in cages at the Southern border. They can see anti-Asian hate taking place in our nation, and they can hear those messages resounding, sometimes from our White House, sometimes from our Senate, sometimes from our Congress and other halls of power throughout the United States. And that works against the message of who we say we are, which is really who we want to be. But the thing that we, I think, lose out on is pretending that where we want to be is actually where we are. And I think back a couple weeks ago Secretary Blinken came out saying to diplomats in the State Department that it was okay for them to admit America’s flaws and failings in their diplomatic engagements with other countries. But I would—I do applaud that. But I also think that saying that we would admit it to the rest of the world—the rest of the world already knows. And who we would have to need to focus on admitting it to is ourselves, because we have not faced this national shame of ours as it relates to the historical and the present reality of White supremacy, of racialized violence and hatred and exclusion in our immigration policy, in our education policy, in our law and customs and cultural mores that have helped to produce ongoing violence and hatred of this nature in which our history is steeped. I think the other part of that is that we lose the opportunity to then share that message with the rest of the world. And so, what I like to say is that our real history is better than the story that we tell. So instead of us framing ourselves and our foreign policy as a nation who fell from the heavens to the top of a mountain, it’s a more powerful story to say that we climbed up out of a valley and are still climbing up out of a valley of trying to create and produce and cultivate a multiracial, multiethnic democracy with respect for all, and that that is and has been a struggle. And I think that that message is much more powerful. And what it does is it creates healing for us at home, but it also begins to take away this kind of Achilles’ heel that many of our adversaries have used historically—the Soviet Union, now Russia, China, Iran—this notion that democracy and freedom and the moral posturing of America is all for naught if you just look at what they do at home. Who are they to preach to you about these things when they themselves have the same challenges? And so I think that we would strengthen ourselves if we could look at this in that way. And I would just close by saying that we often speak of the civil rights movement and the movement for decolonization in the world, and specifically in Africa where I mostly work, speak of them in the past tense. But I would argue that both of them are movements and histories that are continuously unfolding, that are not resolved, and that haven’t brought themselves to peaceful kinds of conclusions. And this is why when George Floyd is killed on camera, choked for nine minutes and loses his life, that you see reverberations all over the world, people pushing back because they are suffering from the same in their countries, and they are following after anti-Asian hate protestors and advocates, Black Lives Matter advocates and protestors, people who are saying to the world this is unacceptable. And so even in that way, you see the linked fates that people share. And so I think that the more we begin to face who we are at home, the more we begin to heal these wounds and relate better in the foreign policy arena, because I think that it is a long held fallacy that these things are separate, right? A nation’s foreign policy is only an extension of its beliefs, its policies and its aspirations and its desires from home going out into the world. So I will stop there. And thank you for the question. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. Dr. Plummer, over to you. PLUMMER: Well, your question is a very good one. It is also a very book-length question. I’ll try to address that. First of all, I would like to say that I find Mr. Adkins’ statement quite eloquent and can’t think of anything I disagree with in what he has said. There are a couple of things that we might consider as well. I think there are several issues embedded in this question of the relationship between race relations in the United States and it’s policies toward other countries. One of them is, I think there’s a difference between what policymakers intend and how American policy is perceived. There is also the question of precisely who is making and carrying out U.S. foreign policy. Now there was a time when that question I think could be very readily answered. But we’re now in an age where we have enhanced roles for the military and the intelligence community. We have private contractors executing American objectives overseas. And this really places a different spin on things, somewhat different from what we observe when we look at this only through a strictly historical lens. I think we also need to spend some time thinking about the precise relationship between race and racism and what we might call colonial, more of imperialist practices. You might look, for example, at what is the relationship between the essentially colonial status of places like Puerto Rico and the Marianas and the—how those particular people from those places are perceived and treated within both the insular context and the domestic context. Clearly, everybody on the planet is shaped to a large degree by the culture and the society that they live in, that they grew up in, right? And so it is probably no mystery from the standpoint of attitudes that certain kinds of people domestically may translate into similar views of people overseas. But I think one of the things we might want to think about is how our institutions, as well as prejudices, influence what takes place. People like to talk, for example, about the similarities between the evacuation of Saigon and the evacuation of Kabul and wonder what is it called when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results? We might want to think about what is it, institutionally, which creates these kinds of repetitions, creates situations in which diplomats are forced to apologize and explain continually about race and other conflictual issues in American society. We might also think about what you perhaps could call a racialization process. Do we create categories of pariahs in response to national emergencies? Do we create immigrants from countries south of the United States as enemies because we don’t have a comprehensive and logical way of dealing with immigration? Do we create enemies out of Muslims because of our roles in the Middle East and, you know, the activities and actions of other states? There’s some historical presence for this—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, for example. So it seems to me that in addressing I think, you know, some of this very rich question, there are a number of ways and facets that we might want to look at and discuss more fully. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you very much. And now we’re going to go to all of you for questions and comments. So you can either ask your question by raising your hand, click on the raised hand icon and I will call on you, or else you can write your question in the Q&A box. And if you choose to write your question—although we’d prefer to hear your voice—please include your affiliation. And when I call on you, please let us know who you are and your institution. So the first question, the first raised hand I see is from Stanley Gacek. Q: Yes, thank you very much. Thank you very much, Professor Plummer and Mr. Adkins, for a very, very compelling presentation. My name is Stanley Gacek. I’m the senior advisor for global strategies at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, representing 1.3 million working women and men in the United States and Canada in the retail, wholesale, food production, healthcare, and services industries. Practically all of our members are on the frontlines of the pandemic. I also served as deputy director and interim director of the ILO mission in Brazil in 2011 to 2016. And my question is this. I wonder if the speakers would also acknowledge that an issue for the United States in terms of its credibility with regard to racial justice, human rights, and of course labor rights, is a rather paltry record of the United States in terms of ratifying international instruments and adhering to international fora with regard to all of these issues. One example which comes to mind in my area is ILO Convention 111 against discrimination in employment and profession, which could—actually has gone through a certain due diligence process in former administrations and was agreed to by business and labor in the United States but still the United States has failed to ratify. I just wondered if you might comment more generally about how that affects our credibility in terms of advocating for racial justice, human rights, and labor rights throughout the world. Thank you very much. FASKIANOS: Who can address that, would like to address that? PLUMMER: Well, I have very little immediate knowledge of this, and I have to say that labor issues and labor rights have been kind of a missing element in terms of being heavily publicized and addressed. I think it has something to do with the fact that over the course of the decades the United States has been less responsive to the United Nations, to international organizations in general. But in terms of the specifics, you know, precisely what has fallen by the wayside, I, you know, personally don’t have, you know, knowledge about that. ADKINS: And I would just say more generally, not to speak specifically in terms of labor, where I’m also not an expert, but there is, of course, a long history of the U.S. seeking to avoid these kinds of issues in the international arena writ large as Dr. Plummer was just referring to. I just finished a book by Carol Anderson called Eyes Off the Prize, which is a whole study of this and the ways in which the U.S. government worked through the United Nations to prevent the internationalization of the civil rights movement which many—Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer, and others—sought to frame it in the context of human rights and raise it into an international specter, and that was something that the U.S. government did not want to happen. And of course, we know that part of the genius of the civil rights movement writ large was this tactic of civil disobedience, not just to push against a law that we didn’t like to see in effect but actually to create a scene that would create international media attention which would show to the world what these various communities were suffering inside of America, to try to create pressure outside of our borders for the cause of freedom and justice and democracy. And so there is that long history there which you’ve touched on with your question. Thank you for that. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome. Q: Good afternoon and thank you for your presentation. I just wonder about U.S. foreign policy, how it lines up with the domestic politics, you know, in terms of race relations, because if one was to believe U.S. propaganda, you know, this country is doing good in the world, it’s the country to emulate. But you know, the events of—well, I guess the George Floyd case brought into graphic relief what most astute observers of the U.S. know, that race relations of the U.S. do not line up very well with the constitutional aspirations of the U.S. So what’s going to change now, you know? And then there’s also this pandemic and the way which race and class is showing us about the real serious inequalities in the U.S. So what’s going to change in terms of lessons learned? And then moving forward, is also multilateralism going to come back into U.S. foreign policy in some way? That’s it. PLUMMER: I think—I’m getting kind of an echo here. I don’t know if other people are. I don’t think anyone is—you know, who is thinking about this seriously doubts that the United States is in a crisis at the moment—a crisis of legitimacy not only abroad but also domestically. We have a situation in which an ostensibly developed country has large pockets, geographic pockets where there are, you know, 30, 40, 50 percent poverty rates. We have people who are essentially mired in superstition, you know, with regard to, you know, matters of health and science. And you know, I don’t think anyone is, you know—is, you know—who is, you know, thinking about this with any degree of gravity is not concerned about the situation. Once again, I think we’re talking here about institutions, about how we can avoid this sort of repetitive and cyclical behavior. But one thing I want to say about George Floyd is that this is a phenomenon that is not only unique to the United States. One of the reasons why George Floyd became an international cause célèbre is because people in other countries also were experiencing racism. There—other countries had issues with regard to immigration. And so really looking at a situation in which I think is—you know, transcends the domestic, but it also transcends, you know, simply looking at the United States as, you know, the sort of target of criticism. FASKIANOS: Do you want to add anything, Travis, or do you want to—should we go to the next question? ADKINS: Go on to the next question. Thank you. FASKIANOS: OK, thank you. Let’s go to Shaarik Zafar with Georgetown, and our prior questioner was with Brooklyn—teachers at Brooklyn College. Q: Hey, there. This is Shaarik Zafar. I was formerly the special counsel for post-9/11 national origin discrimination in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division—sorry, that’s a mouthful—and then most recently during the Obama years I was a special representative to Muslim communities. So this—I first applaud the presentation. These issues are very near and dear to me. I think it’s clear, you know, we have to own up and acknowledge our shortcomings. And I think, you know, I was really sad to hear that we actually worked against highlighting what I think is really an example of American exceptionalism, which is our civil rights movement and our civil rights community. When I was at State during the Obama years, we had a very modest program where we brought together U.S. civil rights leaders and connected them with European civil rights leaders. And the idea wasn’t that we had it all figured out but rather that, you know, in some respects the United States has made some advances when it comes to civil rights organizing and civil society development in that respect—and perhaps more so than other countries. I was just thinking, I would love to get the panelists’ thoughts on ways that we can continue to collaborate and—you know, on a civil society level between civil rights organizations in the United States and abroad and the way the U.S. government should actually support that—even if it means highlighting our shortcomings—but as a way to, you know, invest in these types of linkages and partnerships to not only highlight our shortcomings but look for ways that we could, you know, actually come to solutions that need to be, I think, fostered globally. Thanks so much. ADKINS: You know, the first thing I would say, Shaarik—thanks for your question—I thought it was interesting, this idea of framing the civil rights movement as a kind of example of American exceptionalism. And I think there’s a way in which I would relate to that in the sense that folks did, at least nominally or notionally, have certain kinds of freedom of speech, certain kinds of rights to assembly. But even those were challenged, of course, when we see the violence and the assassinations and all of the machinations of the government against those who were leaders or participants in that movement. And so in that sense, perhaps I would agree. I might push back, though, in terms of American exceptionalism as it relates to civil rights, because these people were actually advocating against the U.S. government, who actually did not want them to have the rights that they were promised under the Constitution. Of course, many of us would not be free or able to speak up without the 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments. And so there’s a sense in which we celebrate them, but there’s also a sense in which they are actually indictments of the original Constitution which did not consider any of those things to be necessary elements of our society. In terms of civil society and where the U.S. government is engaged, I think that, you know, sometimes when we deal with these problems that are foreign policy related, you know, sometimes the answer is at home. Sometimes the answer is not, you know, a white paper from some high-level think tank. It’s not something that starts ten thousand miles away from where we are, because I don’t think that we would have the kind of standing and credibility that we would need to say that we believe in and support and give voice and our backing to civil society movements abroad if we don’t do the same thing at home. And so everything that we want to do somewhere else, we ought to ask ourselves the question of whether or not we’ve thought about doing it at home. And I don’t mean to suggest—because certainly no nation is perfect, and every nation has its flaws. But certainly, we would be called to the mat for the ways in which we are either acknowledging or refusing to acknowledge that we have, you know, these same—these same challenges. And so I think there still remains a lot of work to be done there in terms of how we engage on this. And you have seen the State Department come out and be more outspoken. You’ve seen the Biden administration putting these issues more out front. You have now seen the Black Lives Matter flag flying over U.S. embassies in different parts of the world. And some people might view that as co-optation of a movement that is actually advocating against the government for those rights and those respects and that safety and security that people believe that they are not receiving. And others might see it as a way to say, look, our nation is embracing civil society and civic protests in our nation as an example that the countries in which those embassies are in should be more open to doing the same kinds of things. And so it’s a great question. I think it remains to be seen how we move forward on that—on that score. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Molly Cole. Q: Hi. My name is Molly Cole. I am a grad student of global affairs at New York University. I was just curious sort of what y’all thought about what the consequences of foreign policy on punishment systems and institutions as it pertains to race relations in the United States would be, also in tandem with sort of this strive for global inclusivity and equity and just sort of, I guess, hitting those two ideas against each other. ADKINS: Can you clarify the ideals for us, Molly? So one sounded like it was about maybe mass incarceration or the death penalty or things of that nature? You’re talking about punitive systems of justice? And then the other seemed to be more about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the foreign policy space? But I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I just want to make sure I understand the question. Q: You hit the nail on the head. ADKINS: OK. Do you want to go ahead, Dr. Plummer? PLUMMER: Oh. Well, again, a great question but, you know, one of, you know, it’s—could write a book to answer. (Laughs.) Well, if you’re talking about the sort of international regime of incarceration—is that what you were referring to? Q: Yes, essentially. So when we’re—when we’re considering, you know, these punitive systems, I’m thinking in terms of, you know, the death penalty, mass incarceration, private prisons, sort of this culmination of us trying to come up with these ideals, but doing it sort of on our own, while also combatting, you know, what the nation is calling for, what the globe is calling for. PLUMMER: Yeah. I think this sort of pertains to what I had mentioned earlier about just, you know, who is making and carrying out U.S. foreign policy, or domestic policy for that matter. There’s a whole question of the state and, you know, what parts of the state are involved in this whole question of incarceration and are involved in the whole question of the death penalty. One of the things that we are aware of is that prisons have—some of the prisons are actually not being operated by civil authorities. They’re operated by private entities. We saw this again in—you know, particularly in Afghanistan, where a lot of functions which normally, you know, are carried out by civil authorities are carried out by private authorities. And so this really puts a whole different perspective on the question or the relationship of citizens to the state and, you know, to any other particular group of citizens to the state. So I think that, you know, one of the problem areas then is to tease out what in fact are the obligations and privileges of government, and how do they differ from and how are they distinguished from the private sector. Q: Thank you. ADKINS: And I would just add quickly on this notion of hypocrisy and saying one thing and doing another, there was an interesting anecdote around this when President Obama visited Senegal. And he was delivering a fairly tough message about the treatment of members of the LGBT+ community in Senegal. And President Macky Sall got up essentially after President Obama and was essentially saying that, you know, we kind of appreciate this tough love lecture, but I would remind you, you know, that Senegal doesn’t have the death penalty, right? And so on one hand we’re actually saying something that has a grounding. Of course, people of all human stripes can have dignity, and have respect and be protected. But he is then hitting back and saying, hey, wait a minute, you kill people who break laws in your own country. And we don’t have the death penalty. So who should actually be the arbiter of how is the correct way – or, what is the correct way to be? On the second part of your question, quickly, Molly, especially as it relates to the kind of diversity, equity, and inclusion piece, this is why also there has been a big push to look in our State Department, to look at USAID, to look at the face that America presents to the world. And all too often that face has been male, that face has been White. And that gives a certain perception of America, but it also means that we lose the tremendous treasure and talent of people who have language skills, who come from communities in which their own perspective on the world actually is a talent that they have. Specifically, because many of those communities—whether they’ve immigrated or come to America by different means—are also from groups who’ve been marginalized, who’ve been oppressed, who have a certain frame and a lens with which to engage with other nations in the world, either in terms of partnership, either in terms of deterrence. And so we lose out in many ways because we haven’t done a great job in that—in that matter. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take a written question from Morton Holbrook, who’s at Kentucky Wesleyan College. His question is: How should the United States respond to international criticism to the U.S.’s racial discrimination? And how will that affect the relationship between the U.S. and the international community? PLUMMER: Well, the United States, I think, has—(laughs)—no choice but to acknowledge this. Historically this has been a problem that when pressed on this issue in the past the response was always, well, you know, we know this is a problem and we’re working on it. And the most egregious examples of racism are the responsibility of people who are either at the margins of society or who represent some sort of relic past that is rapidly disappearing, right? That was the message about the South, right? OK, the South is, you know, rapidly developing and so soon these vestiges of violent racism will be over. Well, again, the reason why that doesn’t work anymore—(laughs)—is because we’re always projecting this future, right, that—you know, it’s always being projected further and further into the future. And we’re never there yet. And it seems to me, again, that this is a problem of institutions. This is a problem of the embeddedness of racism in American life, and a refusal on the part of so many Americans to acknowledge that racism is real, and that it exists. And you know, I think we see many examples of this. I’m thinking of one instance where a George Floyd commemorative mural was painted on a sidewalk and some folks came along with some paint and painted over it, because they said it wasn’t a racism corner, you know, while engaged in a racist act. So, you know, there really needs to be, I think, on a very fundamental level, some education—(laughs)—you know, in this country on the issue of race and racism. The question is, you know, who is—who will be leaders, right? Who will undertake this kind of mission? ADKINS: One thing I would say, quickly, on that, Irina, just an anecdote as well that also relates to really in some ways the last question about who our representatives are and what perspective they bring. Several years ago, I was on a trip—a congressional delegation to Egypt. And I was with several members of the CBC. And we met with President Sisi. And they were giving him a fairly rough go of it over his treatment of protesters who were protesting at that time in Tahrir Square, many of whom had been killed, maimed, abused, jailed. And he listened to them kind of haranguing him. And at the end of that speech that they were giving to him he said basically: I understand your points. And I hear your perspective. But he said, can I ask you a question? They said, sure, Mr. President. We welcome you to ask questions. And he said, what about Ferguson? And the day that he said that Ferguson was on fire with surplus military equipment in the streets of America, with, you know, tear gas and armed military-appearing soldiers in the streets of America who were seen, at least optically, to be doing the same thing, right? Not as many people were killed, certainly, but the point is you have this same problem. However, if that had been a different delegation, he might have scored a point in their verbal jousting. But President Sisi had the misfortune of saying this to two-dozen 70-plus-year-old Black people. And no one in America would know better than they what that is like. And so what they ended up replying to him by saying, exactly. No one knows this better than we do. And this is exactly why we’re telling you that you shouldn’t do it. Not because our country doesn’t have that history, but because we do have that history and it has damaged us, and it will damage you. Which takes on a completely different tone in our foreign relations than if it was simply a lecture, and that we were placing ourselves above the nations of the world rather than among them. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go to Ashantee Smith. Q: Hello. Can you guys hear me? ADKINS: We can. FASKIANOS: Yes. Q: OK, perfect. Hi. My name is Ashantee Smith. I am a grad student at Winston-Salem State University. In regards to some of the responses that you guys gave earlier, it gave me a question. And I wanted to know how you guys were putting the correlation between racism and immigration. PLUMMER: Well, yeah. The United States has a history of racialized responses to immigrants, including historically to White immigrants. Back in the day the Irish, for example, were considered to be, you know, something less than White. We know, however, that society—American society has since, you know, incorporated Europeans into the category of Whiteness, and not done so for immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, who remain racialized, who are perceived as being, in some respects by some people, unassimilable. We also have a phenomenon of the racialization of Muslims, the creation of outcast groups that are subjected to, you know, extremes of surveillance or exclusion or discrimination. So immigration is very much embedded in this, is a question of an original vision of the United States, you know, and you can see this in the writings of many of the founding fathers, as essentially a White country in which others, you know, are in varying degrees of second-class citizens or not citizens at all. So this is, I think, an example of something that we have inherited historically that continues to, you know, be an issue for us in the present. Yeah. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Pearl Robinson. Q: Hello. I am just so thrilled to see the two panelists here. I want—I actually raised my hand when you were talking about the labor rights issue. And I’m at Tufts University. And I’m currently working on an intellectual biography about Ralph Bunche. And I actually ran over here from the U.N. archives where I was actually reading about these issues. (Laughs.) And I wanted to just say that the discussion we’re having now, it’s sort of disjointed because we’re dealing with lots of erasures, things that are overlooked, and they are not enough Carol Andersons and Brenda Gayle Plummer professors out there putting these things in press. But even more importantly, they are not sufficiently in our curriculum. So people who study international relations and people who do international relations don’t know most of these things. So my quick point I just wanted to say was during World War II when Ralph Bunche was working for the OSS military intelligence, his archives are full of it, he went and he was interviewing our allies at their missions and embassies in the U.S.—the French, the British—asking them: What are your labor relations policies in your colonial territories? And this was considered important military information for the United States, as we were going to be—as Africa was an important field of operation. When you get to actually setting up the U.N., I was struck in a way I hadn’t, because I hadn’t read archives this way. (Laughs.) But I’m looking at conversations between Bunche and Hammarskjöld, and they’re restructuring the organization of the United States—of the United Nations. And there are two big issues that are determining their response to the restructuring—the Cold War as well as decolonization. And I actually think that those two issues remain—they’re structuring that conversation we’re having right now. And they—we say the Cold War is over, but I love this phrase, of the racialization of the current enemies or people we think of as enemies. So I actually do think that this is a really good program we’re having where we’re trying to have the conversation. But the dis-junctures, and the silences, and the difficulties of responding I think speak volumes. The last thing I will say, very quickly, that incident about the discussion with President Sisi that Mr. Adkins—that needs to be canned. That needs to be somehow made available as an example that can be replicated and expanded and broadened for people to use in teaching. ADKINS: Well, I always listen when my teacher is talking to me, Dr. Robinson. Thank you for sharing that. And I’m working on it, I promise you. (Laughter.) FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to—we have lots of questions and raised hands, and we’re not going to get to all of you. So I apologize right now. (Laughs.) We’ll do the best we can. Jill Humphries. Q: Hello. My name is Jill Humphries. And I’m an adjunct assistant professor in the Africa Studies Program at the University of Toledo, and have been doing Africa-based work, I’m proud to say, for about thirty-three years, starting at the age twenty-two, and have used Dr. Plummer’s work in my dissertation. And hello, fellow ICAPer (sp). So my question is this: There’s an assumption that I believe we’re operating in. And that is race and racism is somehow aberrant to the founding of this country, right? So we know that Saidiya Hartman and Frank Wilderson, the Afropessimist, make the argument that it is clearly key that it is fundamental to the development of our institutions. And so my question is this: You know, the—in the domestic scene the sort of abolitions clearly state that unless we fundamentally transform our norms and values, which impact, of course, our institutions, then we will continue to have the exact outcomes that are expected. The killing of George Floyd and the continuing, I think, need to kill Black bodies is essential to this country. And so my question is, in the context of foreign relations, international relations, are we also looking at the way in which, number one, it is not aberrant that racism is a constituent element in the development of our foreign policy and our institutions? And that unless we fundamentally first state it, acknowledge it, and then perhaps explore the way in which we dismantle, right—dismantle those norms and values that then impact these institutions, that we’re going to continue to have the same outcomes, right? So for example, when Samantha Powers visited Ethiopia, if you’ve been following that whole narrative, there was a major backlash by the Ethiopian diaspora—major. My colleagues and friends, like, I’ve had intense conversations, right, around that. Same thing about the belief about Susan, former—Susan Rice’s role, right, in continuing to influence our foreign policy, particularly towards the Horn of Africa. So my question is: What does that look like, both theoretically, conceptually? But more importantly for me, because I’m a practitioner on the ground, what does that look like in practice? And that’s where I think Professor Adkins, working for USAID, could really kind of talk about. Thank you. ADKINS: Thank you. Yeah, you know, I think it goes back to Dr. Robinson’s question a moment ago. And that is the first the acknowledgement and the calling out and the putting into relief and contrast the context in which we’re operating, especially when we think about not even USAID specifically, but the industry of development—aid and development assistance kind of writ large. Because essentially what we have is a historical continuum that starts with the colonial masters and the colonial subjects. And then that because what is called, or framed, as the first world and the third world, right? And then that becomes the developing world and the developed world. Then that becomes the global north and the global south. All of which suggests that one is above, and one is below. That one is a kind of earthly heaven, the other kind of earthly hell. That one possessed the knowledge and enlightenment to lead people into civilization, and the other needs redemption, needs to be saved, needs to be taught the way to govern themselves, right? That this kind of Western notion of remaking yourself in the world, that your language, that your system of government, that your way of thinking and religious and belief and economics should be the predominant one in the world. And so I think, to me, what you’re saying suggests the ways in which we should question that. And this is where you start to hear conversations about decolonizing aid, about questioning how we presume to be leaders in the world in various aspects, of which we may not actually be producing sound results ourselves. And thinking again about this notion of placing ourselves among nations rather than above nations in the ways in which we relate and engage. And I think that it’s one of the reasons that we continue to have challenges in the realm of development assistance, in the realm of our diplomacy and foreign policy. Because, again, there is a pushback against that kind of thinking, which is rooted in a deep history that contains much violence and many types of economic and diplomatic pressures to create and sustain the set of power relations which keeps one group of people in one condition and one in another. And so it’s a huge question. And how to bring that kind of lofty thinking down to the granular level I think is something that we will have to continue to work on every day. I certainly don’t have the answer, but I’m certainly answering—asking, I should say—the questions. PLUMMER: I think I might also think about how is in charge. And this is—you know, it goes back to something we talked about before, when U.S. foreign policy is no longer exclusively rooted in the State Department? So in terms of, you know, who represents the United States abroad and in what ways, and how is that representation perceived, we’re really looking at, you know, a lot of different actors. And we’re also looking at, you know, changes in the way that the U.S. government itself is perceiving its role, both at home and abroad. And one of the questions was previously asked about the system of incarceration speaks to that, because we have to ask ourselves what are—what are—what are the proper roles and responsibilities and burdens of the state, the government and, you know, what is leased out—(laughs)—in some ways, for profit to private concerns? So I think that, you know, some of this is about, you know, a sense of mission that I don’t see out there, that I think will in some respects have to be restored and reinvented. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Erez Manela. Q: Thank you very much for this really terrific and important panel. My name is Erez Manela. I teach the history of U.S. foreign relations at Harvard. And my question actually—I don’t know if Irina planned this—but it follows on directly from the previous question. Because I kept on wondering during this panel what—I mean, the focus that we’ve had here, the topic that’s been defined, is the way in which domestic race relations, domestic racism, have shaped U.S. foreign policy. But of course, U.S. foreign policy has been shaped—as the previous questioner noted—has been shaped directly by racism and perceptions of racial hierarchy for—well, since the very beginning. And Professor Adkins spoke very eloquently about it. And of course, Professor Plummer has written eloquently about that, including in her books on Haiti and international relations. But I guess I’m wondering if you could speak more about the specifics about the history that needs to be recognized in that realm, and then—and this is maybe self-interested—whether you have any recommendations, in the way that you recommended Carol Anderson’s really terrific book—for reading that we can read ourselves or give our students to read, that would really drive that point home, the influence of racism, race perceptions, race hierarchies themselves on—directly on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations historically. PLUMMER: Well, Professor Manela, I appreciate your own work on Wilson. And you know, that in some respects—that would be a book that I’d recommend. (Laughs.) Might also think about Mary Dudziak’s work on Cold War civil rights, and her law review article, Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative, which, you know, directly addresses these questions. Again, what I would like to see is some work that will—perhaps not necessarily a historical perspective—but will address this whole question of the sort of growing, I don’t know what you’d call it, multiplicity or multivariant character of American policymaking, you know, as we—as we go forward, you know, past the Cold War era. There’s an interesting item by a man named Andrew Friedman, who wrote a book called Covert Capital. I think the subtitle is something like Landscapes of Power, in which we discussed the rise of Northern Virginia as what he sees as the true capital of, you know, parts of the U.S. government, in being a center for the military and for intelligence community. And their shaping of that environment at home, as well as their influence in shaping U.S. policy abroad. So, you know, there’s a lot of room for work on these—on these issues. ADKINS: And I would also just follow up—and thank you for the question—and add another book that I just finished. Daniel Immerwahr, from Northwestern University, How to Hide an Empire, which deals in many ways with U.S. foreign policy and the way in which it is explicitly racialized and ways in which that goes understudied in our—in our policy circles, and certainly in the world of education. FASKIANOS: I’m going to try to squeeze in one last question. And I apologize again for not getting to everybody’s question. We’ll go to Garvey Goulbourne as our final question. Q: Yes. Hi. Can you hear me? FASKIANOS: We can. Q: Yeah. My name’s Garvey Goulbourne. I’m a student at the University of Virginia, actually studying abroad this semester in Rabat, Morocco. And my question to you both is: What mechanisms do we have to orient the narratives that our foreign policy leaders are brought up with? Thinking particularly of American exceptionalism and how we kind of place ourselves on a pedestal, whether they be foreign affairs schools or various institutions at different levels of American education, what tools do we have to address the foundations of American perspectives of themselves and our nation in relation to the rest of the world, particularly the global south? FASKIANOS: Who wants to go first? An easy question, of course, to close with. PLUMMER: Go ahead, Mr. Adkins. ADKINS: Sure, sure. Thank you for your question, Garvey. And congratulations on the move out to Morocco. Great to see you there. I think the first thing I would say, of course, is our tools, as far as I am concerned, relate certainly to education. And it’s one of the reasons that I am in the classroom. But I know what that fight is like, because even education is taken over by these notions of White supremacy, by these notions of singular historical narratives. And this is why there’s been such a push against the 1619 Project of the New York Times, why there is this kind of silly season around the misunderstood origins and contexts of critical race theory. There is this battle over who gets to tell the story of what America is, because it is more than—but it is more than one thing, obviously, to a multiplicity of people. And so I am kind of remiss—or, not remiss. There’s no way for me to elucidate for you now a series of tools that will resolve these problems, because these are challenges that people have been wrestling with before our mothers’ mothers were born. And so we only are continuing that fight from where we sit. And certainly, in the classrooms that I am in, whether they are in prisons or on campuses, we are always digging into the origin of these themes. And the main frame through which I teach is not just for students to understand this history for their health, but for them to understand this history as a lens through which to view the current world and all of the events and challenges that we find ourselves facing, to see if we can come up with new ways to address them. PLUMMER: Well, one of the things that Mr. Goulbourne could do, since he is in Morocco, is to make use of his own insights in his conversations with Moroccans. So, you know, there is still a role, you know, for individual actors to play some part in attempting to make some changes. FASKIANOS: Well, with that we unfortunately have to close this conversation. It was very rich. Thank you, Travis Adkins and Brenda Gayle Plummer or sharing your insights and analysis with us. We really appreciate it. To all of you, for your questions and comments. Again, I’m sorry we couldn’t get to all of you. You can follow Travis Adkins @travisladkins, and that’s on Twitter. And our next Academic Webinar will be on Wednesday September 29, at 1:00 p.m. (ET) with Thomas Graham, who is a fellow at CFR. And we’ll talk about Putin’s Russia. So in the meantime, I encourage you to follow us at @CFR_Academic, visit CFR.org, Thinkglobalhealth.org, and ForeignAffairs.com for new research and analysis on global issues. So thank you all again and we look forward to continuing the conversation. ADKINS: Take care, everyone. Thank you. (END)
  • Education
    Higher Education Webinar: Visa Challenges and Fall International Student Enrollment
    Play
    Adam Julian, director of international student and scholar services at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and 2021 chair of the international student and scholar regulatory practice committee at NAFSA, discusses visa challenges for foreign students and international student enrollment with the return to in-person learning this fall.    IRINA FASKIANOS: Good afternoon and welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I'm Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at the Council on Foreign Relations. Today's discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We're delighted to have Adam Julian with us to talk about visa challenges for foreign students and fall international student enrollment. We've shared his bio with you, but I'll just give you a few highlights. Mr. Julian is the director of international student and scholar services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the 2021 to 2022 chair of the International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. From 2015 to 2020, he was the director of international student and scholar services and outreach at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Adam, thanks very much for being with us today. Obviously, we are coming off this pandemic. I thought we could start by looking at the primary visa challenges foreign students are facing now and what this means for international student enrollment, as schools return to in-person learning this fall. ADAM JULIAN: Yeah, thanks so much for having me, Irina. And I appreciate the invitation and all the work that the Council on Foreign Relations does in this sphere. And it's an honor to be here today. So I wanted to start today with just discussing a few points. And a lot of this I know is information that will not be new to anyone, but hopefully it will spur some good conversation and some good dialogue amongst the group. And so today, I'll touch largely on some visa challenges for foreign students who want to study in the U.S., not necessarily only in the moment, sort of in the COVID sense, but also just in general some of the challenges for foreign students. Also, I want to touch a little bit about my experience, as the chair of the International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee with NAFSA, and how liaising with federal agencies and our partner agencies, how that's really changed, in particular under the Biden administration, in the last couple of years. And then finally I want to talk a little bit about some international enrollment challenges and tensions for the fall semester, really things in the moment. And so, what I want to say about visa challenges for foreign students, and really, of all of the English-speaking destination countries for higher education, so think the UK, think Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, the U.S. visa, I would argue, is more expensive and difficult to obtain and comes with fewer benefits in terms of post-graduation work opportunities, in terms of paths to citizenship or permanent residency, than any of its competitors. But despite this, I think the U.S. is still largely seen as one of the best systems of higher education in the world, and U.S. education is still highly sought after by international students. So, when I say it's challenging and difficult for students to obtain a visa, when you think about it just in terms of cost alone, right, if you take into consideration the SEVIS fee, which is the immigration database the Department of Homeland Security and others use, the application fee for the visa itself. That alone is $510. And that's not to mention the cost of travel to a different city. Most of the time, U.S. consulates, depending on the country, as you all know, are either in the capital city or regional city, an applicant may have to provide or may have to travel and stay overnight, take time away from work, all these different things just simply for the opportunity to apply for an interview. This gets especially complicated in other geopolitical complications, think of the case of an Iranian student who has no U.S. Embassy in their home country to apply to and has to go to a third-party country, typically Yerevan or Ankara third-party consulate and it adds an additional cost. So, there's that piece, which is the cost of the visa itself, within even simply to receive an invitation letter or what's known as a Form I-20, from an institution of higher education or any type of institution authorized to issue those in the United States, students have to provide proof of financial solvency for twelve calendar months, just to be eligible to receive this. So, in addition to the cost of the actual application process and applying itself, this system of having to establish twelve months or greater of financial solvency, really, I would argue, creates some real inequity in who is able to access higher education in the U.S., and it's largely only available to the wealthy, since mobility to the U.S., is really, for the most part, only accessible to those who happen to have the means. So, once you've applied for the visa, and you show up to the embassy, you've gone through all these steps, then the way the U.S. immigration law and regulations are structured, is the burden of proof to overcome this idea of immigrant intent, or the idea that you the applicant, are intending to immigrate to the United States and the consular officers are trained to make that assumption, the burden of overcoming that is on the applicant. And most of the times, those of you who I'm sure have been to many U.S. embassies abroad, they're perhaps not the most welcoming and friendly places. Oftentimes, these interviews take place under very stressful conditions, they must be in person in a language that is not an applicant's native language, the majority of the time. And so, if the goal is for the applicant to overcome nonimmigrant intent, to prove to the consular officer that they do plan to return to their home country, they have to establish what's known as home country ties. If you're a 17-year-old or 18-year-old student who's going to study in the United States and is applying for a visa, how do you own property? How do you articulate what your plan for the future is, when you may not even know what you're going to study in the U.S.? Another, I think, aspect of this that makes it very difficult, particularly on the visa acquisition side, it’s really just, frankly speaking, it's more difficult to get a visa from “sample” state university than from Harvard, or an Ivy or a university that has international name recognition, right? So having to overcome that bias that may be there from a consular officer is also a significant challenge. So, in summary, for the visa acquisition process, and some of the challenges in general, it really is, it's the most arduous process for any, in my opinion, for any student visa, with the least beneficial results—no path to citizenship, really strict regulations, really strict vetting, very limited work opportunities for students in the U.S. So I want to turn now to my role at NAFSA and the International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee and how things have been different under the Biden administration. And as Irina mentioned, I've been a member of ISSRP in some capacity since 2016. I've been chairing the group since 2020. And the difference between the last six months versus the previous five years is truly night and day, I sort of like to describe it as this administration is really less deliberately obstinate, or we've gone back to having a partner and not an adversary. Life is more predictable, more steady for people who have jobs such as mine working with international students and scholars and doing a lot of regulatory work. And I'll give you a few examples just of how that's changed in the first couple of months of this administration. A lot of people on the call may know that the Department of Homeland Security issued some temporary relief or some extra guidance or exceptions for international students during the COVID pandemic. And that has been a process that's been continuing to be updated and extended, sort of piecemeal and it's been a very much a piece of concern for administrators and in higher education for the students and scholars that impact it, but within several months, the new administration issued guidance all the way through the entire academic year. And I think a lot of us really view that as a statement of solidarity and support that we're in this together and we're not going to continue to create a situation that's in flux and unstable and unreliable and subject to change rapidly. The administration also did away with the Trump administration's plan to create an OPT Compliance Enforcement Unit. Under ICE—this was one of the last few months of the Trump administration—there was an announcement that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE were going to create an OPT, Optional Practical Training, form of work authorization for international students, they were going to create an enforcement unit. That was cancelled within the first several weeks of the administration. Other things, the idea of making some significant changes that are less student friendly to OPT, Optional Practical Training, to duration of status, or the length of which a student or scholar can remain in the U.S., we're always on the regulatory horizon, or the agenda, of the past administration. And those things are no longer on the chopping block, so to speak. And so really, it's been a different sense of having a partner, having an adversary in our direct liaison work, we just completed our annual conference at NAFSA. And my group is responsible for facilitating the sessions where we invite government representatives to come and discuss trends and topics and questions around international students and scholars and regulations. The past four years, just frankly speaking, organizing these events were very challenging because there was a fear among our agency partners, I think, what they may say, or what they may be not allowed to say, don't want to be seen as saying something on the record. This was a fundamentally different experience, this year, more collegial, more positive in nature. For the first time in many, many years, we were able to have some liaison with Citizenship and Immigration Services. And just in general, this has really helped the, I would say, perception, and overall sense of optimism among international educators and international students and scholars who are looking to come and study in the U.S. So, finally, where are things right now, with international enrollment? What are the tensions? I think anybody's guess is as good as mine. I think right now, the biggest challenge that a lot of us are dealing with is simply the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consular operations, it's very, very difficult, if not impossible, to get an appointment, to get a visa. Many posts simply aren't operating. That's often case-by-case, country-by-country, post-by-post specific depending on the public health situation. Those that are operating are experiencing significant backlogs. Speaking for a little bit about the experiences of students at UMBC, we had a lot of students who had originally intended to arrive in August of 2020, but because of the pandemic, had deferred until January, and had deferred again until August. And so that's created a significant backlog. And the U.S. Department of State has very graciously, I think, announced their intention to really prioritize student and scholar mobility. But, we can only do so much with the resources that we have. I think other challenges that we're facing, aside from just lack of visa availability or just navigating travel restrictions, at the top, I mentioned the case of an Iranian student who may have to travel to Armenia or to Azerbaijan to apply for a U.S. student visa, how does that student or scholar navigate the travel restrictions that are in place because of COVID? Whether or not they're at the national level, whether or not they're airline specific, based at the specific console, it's a lot to keep track of and to navigate and very difficult and case-specific. One of the things I think that's kind of interesting is, say what you will about how the U.S. handled the COVID situation, but in a sense, where we are now has in a way turned into a bit of a competitive advantage, it is easier to come to the U.S. than to a lot of our competitor English-speaking higher education receiving countries. And I think, for a particular example, the UK is requiring a mandatory ten-day quarantine stay in a hotel when they arrive, and that's to the cost of the traveler. Australia and New Zealand have other stricter measures in place to prevent mobility of international visitors and travelers. And so, in a sense, that's turned into a bit of a competitive advantage. But it's really all about are students and scholars going to be able to get the visas? Right now, a lot of us are dealing with tensions and questions around vaccinations. It's a balance between personal safety. We want students to have that campus experience, we recognize the importance of the campus economy. And, just frankly speaking, I think that's what keeps a lot of U.S. higher education institutions afloat. And so for those of us who are requiring vaccines on our campuses, and if you're a student from X country who may not have access to a WHO-approved vaccine or a FDA-approved vaccine, how will that be dealt with when you arrive? Will we consider you vaccinated, will we provide you with a vaccine, do you risk your own personal health and safety and not get a vaccine, perhaps, the Russian-produced Sputnik vaccine or a vaccine that's not WHO-approved and then come to the U.S. and be required by a university to get a FDA-approved vaccine? There's really no, to my knowledge, understanding of the science of the effect of vaccine layering. And so students are making these difficult decisions right now. Do I get the vaccine that I have access to, and then take a risk of getting vaccinated again when I get to the U.S.? Do I not? I think that the last thing I would really want to say, I guess two final points about sort of tensions and maybe how we should be thinking about this right now. To me, the pandemic has really highlighted the importance of having a more strategic international enrollment plan. And by strategic, I mean, diversifying sources of enrollment. For students, a lot of institutions are one geopolitical issue or one pandemic or one natural disaster away from having a significant decrease in enrollment. I think the recent surge in COVID vaccine in India is a good example of that. Certainly, there are other cases throughout recent history, relations with China, the currency situation in South Korea several years ago, different types of things that have occurred. And so, I think the second point to that is we, I think, in the United States, really, we live in the moment, we don't think about the future, right? We are, to my knowledge, the only of our competitors, who don't have a national policy on international education. We don't have a whole of government approach, we don't have a strategic plan for how we will maintain ourselves as a preferred destination for higher education for students and scholars from around the world. And I think that's a short sighted and, in my opinion, I think there's lots of reasons for that. And with that, I'll leave my remarks and open it up to questions and hopefully some nice conversation. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you, Adam, for that. It's so complicated, and there's so much to navigate, as you described. We're going to go now to all of you for your questions, comments. So you can either raise your hand by clicking on the raised hand, or you can also write your question in the Q&A box, if you prefer to do it that way. But of course, we'd love to hear from you and hear your voice. So I'm going to go first to Katherine Moore, who has raised her hand. Please tell us what institution you're with, it will give us context. Be sure to unmute yourself. Katherine, you're still—there you go. Q: [Inaudible]. FASKIANOS: Adam, did you get that or was it breaking up too much to get it? JULIAN: I didn't get it, unfortunately. FASKIANOS: Okay. Katherine, would you mind just typing your question in the Q&A box? Because your connection is so poor, we could not decipher it. If that's okay, great. All right. I'm going to go next to going next to a written question Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, who is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College. She has two questions: “Are there any estimates of how much the U.S. lost in enrollments as the consequence of onerous student visa regulations, in terms of international students studying here?” And then her second question is, “One would have expected COVID-19 to increase barriers to international students’ access to U.S. education. But from your presentation, the U.S. is more accessible than other English-speaking countries. Hopefully, we won't have another wave of infections as most campuses reopened, but if we do how would that complicate the situation?” So that's a twofer. JULIAN: I'll start with the first question. I am not aware of any specific surveys or studies that have been done to really get at how immigration policy affects student mobility. I know that Institute of International Education publishes their Open Doors report every year, and that is essentially a census or an accounting of international student mobility. You can find that readily accessible and that will show you year over year comparisons. I also know that U.S. Department of State publishes their visa issuance rates. And so, those are also publicly available. And the second part of the question—Irina help me here—I think was we would assume that the COVID-19 pandemic would increase burdens, but that hasn't necessarily been the case, or increased obstacles for students. FASKIANOS: Right. JULIAN: I would say it certainly has increased obstacles. All of last year, most of U.S. universities were operating in fundamentally different circumstances in terms of in person or virtual, etc. And consulates were largely closed. And so, I would say during that time, absolutely, there were fundamentally more challenges. But I think, I guess the point I'm trying to make now, is that because we in the United States have, just being frank, have taken a much more laissez faire approach to public health, that now there are no national restrictions on entry as there are to other competitors. So, if I'm a student, particularly, who for the last two years has tried to think about I want to come to the United States, I want to study abroad for an advanced degree, you've got this pent up demand, and right now, really the only supply that's readily and easily accessible is the United States, in a sense. I mean, certainly there are ways to go to other competitor countries, but with fewer restrictions. I hope that gets at the question. FASKIANOS: Great. Let's go next to Susan Briziarelli, who is the assistant provost for global affairs at Adelphi University, “We've heard about plans to allow visa interviews to be conducted in the consoles virtually, is this still a possibility?” JULIAN: That is a great question. I've seen many, many rumors, and I know there's efforts afoot through AIEA and others to try to advocate for that. I have not heard anything from the Department of State or any of my colleagues that leads me to believe that is in the near future. I simply—this is my, Adam Julian, my personal opinion, not that University of Maryland, Baltimore County or NAFSA—that I simply just don't think that's in the cards anytime in the near future. I know a lot of people want that. And I know that would seemingly save a lot of problems, remove a lot of obstacles, rather, that we're facing. But I just don't see that happening. I hope I'm wrong. FASKIANOS: Next question from Martin Edwards, associate professor at Seton Hall University, “Are you aware of any conversations at the higher level to better coordinate communication between CBP DOS and USCIS?” JULIAN: Another great question. And I think about that. And the reason I say it's a great question is it's one that we're constantly asking and constantly getting different answers to, and it's really important. Think back to the early days of the Trump administration with the Muslim ban, if you remember when that executive order was signed and went into action, there were literally people in the air who, when they were in the air, the U.S. Customs Border Protection had no understanding that this was happening and only received this information as they came. And so I think that sort of interagency communication is absolutely critical, particularly in a situation live we’ve found ourselves in the last four or five years where you're having such rapidly changing regulations and things like that. Every time we ask this question, we get varying degrees, in particular, I think with CBP, you get a lot more communication amongst the Department of Homeland Security agencies, and not necessarily the Department of State's Consular Affairs or the Exchange Visitor program, because if you remember, CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State is separate, in that sense. So, there's much more interagency cooperation. I know the couple of times that we asked that question at the most recent NAFSA annual conference of our agency partners, to a person, each one expressed the importance of that and that they take great strides to do it. But I'm not aware of any sort of specific actions or plans that are being made to facilitate better interagency communication, other than just to think right now, in this current climate, that's easier to happen naturally, particularly among the core career diplomats and career bureaucrats who are there administration to administration who perhaps no longer fear stepping out of line. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'm going to go next to Hamdi Elnuzahi, who's raised their hand, assistant director for sponsored students at Minnesota State University, Mankato. So, if you could unmute yourself. Q: Hello. Thank you, Adam and you, for bringing this up here. I think it is a very important topic right now. And many of the schools are looking for how to strategically manage this issue to get more enrollment in the fall. It is not a question, but I just want to share something that is very important that may reduce or decrease the number of enrollments in the fall is the visa waiting time in many countries. Based on the information that I have, in more than eighty-six countries, the visa wait time could exceed sixty-five calendar days, up to maybe two hundred-something days, and most of the U.S. embassies in these countries maybe have only one option—emergency appointment. I think these applicants from these eighty-six countries, they don't have hope even to get a visa appointment, and they will not be able to come even if they get accepted. Second, if they want to enroll, they have to just to take the one option, to enroll online from the countries until they get an appointment. Mr. Adam, can you give us some insights about that, and how we can help these students in these countries? JULIAN: Thank you, those are some great points and I would be very happy to address them. I think the point about the significant delays and visa appointments, the time between when you can actually schedule an appointment, that's, I think, what most of us are dealing with right now, that's the most critical piece. And I think all I would say to that, I guess, would be in a positive sense, I know that back to this idea of feeling like we have a colleague, and not an adversary anymore. The Department of State has indicated that they will prioritize student visas as soon as public health conditions allow. And so, if the optimist in me is looking and hoping that will mean more resources, more appointments will be available, things will be coming up and we will be able to have some students who get more visas and get more appointments quickly. Obviously, that's not a given. But it is the situation as it is right now. Your point about enrolling online is a really interesting one. And so at least from my perspective, here at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a lot of our students—we did offer our students the option throughout the last year to enroll entirely online, if they chose, from outside of the U.S. But because of—back to these limited work authorizations, there's a program known as Curricular Practical Training, which is essentially a work authorization, off campus work or internship or authorization for a student to gain practical experience in his or her field. And for the most part, by and large, you must be physically present in the United States for a year, before you can be eligible for CPT. And so we found I think, in the past year that a lot of our students just simply didn't want to, particularly our masters students, or applied masters students for whom that CPT is such an important piece of what they're coming for, just simply didn't want to enroll online, simply wanted to wait so that they could start that eligibility for CPT, which can only begin when they're in the United States. And so that's a critical piece. And then I also think—back to the online piece—one of the things that I know a lot of colleagues around the country are grappling with is as we open up, and as we go back to more in person learning on our campuses, perhaps those available online options may go away, perhaps there are fewer options. And so, what we're trying to do is to find a happy medium where we can still have, still be able to offer a student a full array of online or hybrid courses that they can enroll in from abroad, if that situation comes to that, but also not do so in a limiting fashion. And I think time will tell, I think the next month, six weeks will be really, really critical for what fall enrollment is going to look like from an international perspective. And I'm hoping for the best, I think like everyone else. FASKIANOS: Yeah, thank you very much. I'm going to go next to Jennifer Tishler, who is associate director at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Our center has several international PhD students on hold but also several international nonstudent postdoctoral scholars. The postdocs would have employment status at our university, not student status. They would be entering as F-1 students and/or J-1 scholars. As things start to open up this summer, do you know if one visa classification will get priority over another? JULIAN: Short answer is I don’t. I know so much of the conversation when we facilitated our conference session with Consular Affairs and NAFSA was around F-1 students, but I do know that they are also prioritizing—and as we've seen through the past in these national interest exemptions for “academics,” and so I think there's been a lot of manipulation is not the word, a lot of negotiation, rather, around what academic means. Does that mean anyone with a J-1 visa, does that mean an H1B who is coming to teach and that sort of thing. So, I don't know the answer to that, but I think what I would say is just in general, I know Consular Affairs is understanding to higher education’s need in this regard. And I think there's an understanding that it encompasses not just the F-1 category students. So yeah, not really a great answer, but it is what it is, as the saying goes. FASKIANOS: Right. I mean, there is so much still to sort out as states are now reopening and just so much navigate through this summer as we see how things unfold in this country. So, the next question comes from Devi Potluri, who is dean of the graduate school at Chicago State University. If you could unmute yourself, that would be terrific. Q: Thank you. Good afternoon, Adam. You did mention the difficulties those of us in the smaller state universities have in our student visas. Before COVID, we used to hear the news that because we don't require GRE, consular officers would look at as a negative thing rather than a positive thing. Do you think that COVID has changed that because most universities now waive the GRE requirement? We had some students telling us, they used to ask a question does your university have a GRE, what kind of university doesn’t, even though we are a state university, fully accurate and everything else. I don't know if you heard anything like that, or any other ideas. JULIAN: In general, that idea is something that anecdotally I've heard people, colleagues like you from around the country, and colleagues I've worked with in my capacity at NAFSA, say for years things from “Oh, you don't require the GRE” to “Oh, your [inaudible] requirements are very low. These are the types of questions that we've asked consular officers in the past, and certainly, I would admit that these practices have happened. I would suggest that they are a little more isolated than I think the belief is, I think we, human nature just sort of grasp on to these ideas that when there's a perceived sort of injustice or unfairness, I think there's human nature to really think of it as a trend rather than a few isolated incidents. But that's not to say that it absolutely does not occur, I certainly think it does occur. And, in my experience working in the past at a public state university without much international name recognition, I've encountered some of those things myself. I think there are some things that you can do to ameliorate that situation. I think, one of the things that we really focus on at UMBC, and in other places, throughout my career, where I’ve worked, is really on, I don't want to say coaching, it's not coaching students on the visa application process, but helping them understand what they have to articulate. And part of that process is explaining to a consular officer, why Chicago State? Where is Chicago State? What you're studying, what your future goals are, why you chose that specific university? I think you raise a really interesting point with the—particularly as a lot of us are going test optional, even not only with GRE and for undergraduate admissions, SAT and ACT and those sorts of things, but in the English language testing area. Duolingo, I think is making a lot of significant headway in English language. And so, consular officers provide—they have bias for TOEFL or Duolingo, or the type of testing that it is, is it a public university, is it a community college, those sorts of things. I haven't heard any anything specific, but what I guess my strategy would be or what sort of what my team tries to do is to really educate our students and our applicants on really how that burden of proof is on them. And not necessarily just burden of proof that they're not going to immigrate, but burden of helping to articulate what their future plan is and why your specific university or school or institution fits into those plans and what it is. And I think that will go a long way. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have another question from Martin Edwards, “Many universities have decreased their staff and resources to international students on campuses over the past year in order to offset difficulties of the pandemic and lower enrollment of international students. Could you offer any data resources that we could point to, to make a case for an increase of staff and resources to support an expected increase of international students?” JULIAN: So trying to wrack my brain here for any sort of specific data, I'm aware of some benchmarking surveys that some of my colleagues, particularly people in my role as a director of international student scholar services have done with NAFSA to talk really about what ideal staffing looks like, based on enrollment. Outside of that, if you could send me a message, I could follow up with you on that. I could share that information; I'd have to locate it. I don't know where it is, and how easily or readily available it is. I'd say, one point that we might bring into this conversation is how do you go about creating additional staffing and supporting increases in students? I know there are many, many different models that people employ, whether that's an international student fee charged per semester, or whether the fee for services you charge for OPT applications that you process or H-1B applications that you process. Obviously, we all have our own political and cultural context to work within what's possible at our campuses and institutions. But I would say one place where I would want to kind of put some focus would be on how could we creatively increase those resources. But I'd be happy to share that benchmarking survey if we can connect offline somehow. FASKIANOS: Sure, we can make sure that happens. Next question from Danielle McMartin, who is director of global education at California State University, San Marcos. “We do anticipate a change in F-1 regulations regarding allowance to online classes, as many institutions and faculty have become more online friendly within their curriculum planning. You might have touched upon this, but I want to just break surface it again.” JULIAN: That's a great question. And for those of you who work closely with F-1 student regulations, you will remember that much of the language that revolves around hybrid or distance or virtual education is antiquated at best, I think there's a reference to closed circuit television in the regulations that we have to use to sort of navigate this. So, I would hope that there are some changes, I think there are a lot of things that have occurred this last year that are not going away. I think one of the things that I think about when I hear that question is what exactly does hybrid mean? How do you define hybrid? Right? That was the guidance we had to work with throughout most of the pandemic with our F-1 student populations, how do you define hybrid? Is it one minute of in-person instruction? Is it one activity? Is it a majority? There's no, like so much of our work, there's no black and white, this is what it is. And so I think that piece of sort of virtual learning, hybrid versus online versus in person, is one of the single greatest areas of need, I think, for clarity in the F-1 student regulations in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. So hopefully something will come with this. I hope we learn our lesson from this and prioritize it moving forward. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next written question from Katy Crossley-Frolick, who is an assistant professor at Denison University, “You discussed the need for longer term strategic thinking regarding international enrollment and mobility. Are you sensing a shift in the Biden administration in terms of pivoting in that direction? And what should be tackled first?” If you were going to give them, 1, 2, 3, what would you advise, Adam? JULIAN: Oh, yeah, I love that, I've suddenly been given some power. This is a great. Am I sensing his shift? Yeah, I think in general, I think it's just a more friendly administration, you see it in not just international education, but more friendly to higher education. You've seen it in some recent Title Nine actions, you've seen it in some other things. I know this idea of a national policy is something that other associations and other groups have brought up and advocated for. For me, the number one—I don't know if I can come up with three—but the number one thing I would fix or would address as part of this policy is to increase opportunities for work for international students and increase the ease by which an international student has a path to permanent residency or citizenship. I know I'm preaching to the choir or so to speak here. But the value of international students to this country and to the world is really immeasurable. Right, how many of our Nobel laureates and others and Fortune 500 company founders and CEOs are former international students, right. Making the U.S. more attractive destination for the world's best and brightest minds to come, making it easier for them to work, to gain practical experience, to invest in this country in this economy, and if they so ultimately choose to have a path to permanent residency, should be the number one piece of any strategy, in my opinion. International students create jobs, international students innovate, international students who are responsible for some of the greatest accomplishments of this country, in my opinion. I’d also focus on opportunities for study abroad or study away. I think the value of mutual understanding, particularly thinking of my experience coming from smaller state schools or growing up in rural Southwestern Indiana like I did, the value of interacting with people with differing perspectives and experiences is immeasurable, so I would try to find some way to create support for international study or travel for U.S.-based students. I think that's only two, but those are the first two that come to mind. FASKIANOS: Great, and Adam, speaking from your position at UMBC, what have you done over the course of the pandemic to foster a sense of community for your international student population? And what are the strategies that you're putting into place for returning this fall, especially if some of them aren't going to make it onto campus if they are trying to get those interviews, and they're not going to be there in the fall, or make it to the fall, are you offering the online option? How are you thinking about all that? JULIAN: Well, that is, I think, the number one question that we think about every day. So, the first part: what did we do over the fall, we actually established a new program—I'm sure most the people on the call with universities have similar programs—our Global Ambassadors Program. And it really is designed to do two things simultaneously: provide funding and support for international students who already have limited opportunities for employment in the U.S. who may have lost their job because that on campus employment isn't available due to COVID. And so, we employ them to really serve as ambassadors for new students and admitted students to help them connect, build a sense of community online, virtual, different types of platforms, different types of activities that they participate in together. And really, that was sort of as a substitute to try to, during the COVID times, build a sense of community and try to replicate those bonds and the importance of mutual understanding and trust that comes with the campus experience. But the campus experience, the experience of studying in a U.S. university of vibrant campus life is really in some ways what differentiates the U.S. system of higher education from other systems of higher education in the world. And I think we would all be naive to say that's not extremely valuable. And so, we're looking at ways that we can do that safely, just like I'm sure everyone else are, that is something that we think should be critical, it's a priority. And to add to that, we've got a whole group of students, they're not many, but who came in the fall or spring during COVID, who have never visited campus. So, there's this real kind of pent up need for that. And so, we are planning things for the fall semester, we're doing some sort of hybrid orientations and meet and greets and a sort of welcome reception with our senior administration for international students to recognize the significant obstacles they've overcome to join us. And we really want to celebrate that and recognize that at the most senior levels, and so we're planning some things like that for the fall. FASKIANOS: Thank you, and then putting on your NAFSA, or your role at NAFSA. What are you doing—obviously, so much of this is dependent on our U.S. immigration policy and reforming that—what are you doing to talk to Congress to advocate for some of these changes that you've mentioned here, and that need to be put in place in order to decrease the barriers to come to this country to study? JULIAN: Yeah, NAFSA has a great advocacy wing, a group of professional staff members who are really dedicated to advocating on behalf of the Association and its members. They do several things that you can imagine, from an advocacy day to specific calls to action. One of the things, in particular, that the regulatory practice group that I've been involved with has done over the past is when there were these proposed changes to immigration regulations, the way the process works, typically, there's a public comment period where anyone can comment on how this rule will impact them, or impact their state, their university, their institution, their family. And so we've really worked with NAFSA to sort of muster the energy amongst people to write these comment letters and to have our voice be heard. There have certainly been successes, I think, through this. I think back to [inaudible]. I know at some point the duration of status was on the chopping block, so to say, so to speak, there were, it was up for public comment, and received thousands and thousands of comments. And ultimately, that was dropped by the next administration, that's no longer in danger. So, I would say, really kind of summary, two things. NAFSA’s advocacy arm works really closely with other associations and really sort of daily on the Hill for our means. And then also, we as association members, I think, really need to be actively engaged in public comment periods and things like that. FASKIANOS: Fantastic, I'm just looking to see—we're almost at the end of our time. So, I'm just wanting to see if there's anything—we covered a lot of ground. So, I think I can just turn to you for any closing remarks that you want to make before we finish up our session. JULIAN: Thanks. Well, I just want to say, I really appreciate everybody attending, and I appreciate a lot of the great questions and comments that I know were—for those of us who are in the weeds, so to speak, in this room right now, it's a very stressful time. But I think back to last summer, and then I'm reminded that it's not nearly as stressful as it was, then. So, have hope, keep the faith, we'll see, I think as things improve, appointments will open up and we'll get back to sort of establishing whatever our new sense of normal is, and we'll do it like we do all things, that's together. And I look forward to that, if I can ever help in any way and to anyone on the call, please don't ever hesitate to reach out. I'm always happy to share ways that you can get involved with NAFSA, with international students, calling regulatory practice committee, or just trying to share resources that I may have come across in my work with that group that would be helpful. And I guess that's all I have to say. FASKIANOS: Adam, I do have one final question, just as your people are navigating over the course of the summer, is there one source or a couple, a handful, that you would say should be the touch point go to reading or go to check, like every other day or daily or once a week, just sort of see where things are? JULIAN: Yeah, I would say so if you're looking at that from a sense of what's changing on a regulatory perspective, I think NAFSA, at least for student and scholar pieces, is the definitive source. And so, I would put in a plug for NAFSA.org/reginfo, that's the landing page where any recent changes and updates occur. On the consular front, it is really post specific. And so, if you're working with a student, or you have a population, have a heavy population of students from one country or another, I would really refer you to that particular embassy or consulate itself and their social media feeds. They do a great job with their public outreach. And they're a great source of information. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. And we will circulate the link to this webinar, some of the resources that were mentioned, as well as the benchmark study that Adam is going to dig out for us. So, appreciate that. So, Adam Julian, thank you very much for being with us and to all of you. I hope that people can take a little bit of a break. It has been a grueling year for educators. The summer probably won't give you much respite. But hopefully, you'll be able to take a few days off to try to reenergize and do some self-care, which is so important. So, we really appreciate it. So, thank you. You can follow Adam on Twitter @Adam_l_Julian. So I hope you will follow him there. We appreciate your expertise. And again, follow us on @CFR_Academic, and you can visit CFR.org and ForeignAffairs.com for more resources. We look forward to seeing you all again for our next webinars, so stay well and stay safe and take care. (END)
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