The biennial international symposium at PLU is one of the ways that the Wang Center supports the university's goal of being an ever more globally focused university. PLU is nationally recognized for its international study away experiences that immerse students in other cultures and allows them to examine the complexity of global issues from other local, national and regional perspectives. However, not all PLU students are able to take advantage of these study away programs. Even with 50 percent of every PLU graduating class participating in a study away program for a month or more (the national average is under 3 percent) it means nearly 50 percent do not. For these students we need to bring the world to them and the campus, and the symposia are part of this effort.
Each year brings significant changes to the increasingly diverse and challenging world in which PLU graduates will live and work. Some of the challenges these changes bring are new, some are old, and some are only now being recognized. Through presentations by professionals, authors, academics and hands-on practitioners, the symposium is designed to stimulate serious thinking on a single global challenge. If one is at all in doubt about this being a different world, consider that there are now 193 counties following a labyrinth of political systems and economic models, and a global population that now exceeds 7 billion.
The overarching goal of PLU's biennial international symposiums is to stimulate serious thinking about contemporary issues and to provide a forum for the campus community and the broader Puget Sound community to engage individuals of international, national and local stature - from scholars and authors to business people and hands-on practitioners.
The image used on publicity material (above) for the 2012 symposium is of a life-size sculpture by the internationally acclaimed artist, Yinka Shonibare, MBE, 'Headless Man Trying to Drink,' 2005 Image © the artist and courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.