The “World Conversations” series is one of the Wang Center’s activities that support and strengthen the university’s globally focused academic programs and offer public education programming. World Conversations is designed to give students returning from study away – semester programs as well as short-term courses conducted each January – an opportunity to share with the campus community what they learned and experienced. Through a series of concurrent sessions, it is an opportunity for students to share with each other, and especially those who did not go away, what they learned about crossing cultural borders and understanding other perspectives and global issues.
World Conversations is also an occasion, through keynote addresses, to hear from members of the PLU faculty who are involved in significant research projects overseas or who have had unique international experiences. They too have much to teach us about our world.
In February 2007 the PLU community joined presentations by students, faculty and visitors and participated in thoughtful dialogue about our changing world. Participants engaged the community on issues of justice, health, sustainability and peace. Music, dance, food and celebrations were enjoyed by all from around the globe. Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale presented his address, “The Changing World Conversation.”
World Conversations 2009 included a keynote presentation by Professor Chuck Bergman on his ongoing research in the Amazon on illegal wildlife trafficking. Professor Colleen Hacker also gave a keynote presentation about her experiences as a coach in the Beijing Olympics. The Closing Plenary was given by David Suze Manda who spoke on the current conflict in Eastern Congo. World Conversations 2009 concluded with “Canboulay,” a carnival celebration, staged by students fro Trinidad and Tobago along with the International Student Club.
World Conversations 2011 focused on Student Reflections on Study Away, Research, Internships and Travel. The two-day event featured a selection of panels and presentations from several J-term and semester programs. Students and faculty shared their study away experiences as well as research conducted through off-campus programs.
In 2013, in lieu of World Conversations the Wang Center hosted the Ambassador Chris Stevens Memorial Lecture, to celebrate the life of an extraordinary public servant and former Peace Corps volunteer. Robin Wright, author, foreign policy analyst, and award-winning journalist shared her views on the Islamic world and talked about her friendship with Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in Libya on the anniversary of 9-11 last year when militants attacked the embassy. The event sought to build knowledge in the PLU community about the Middle East and North Africa and the region’s ties with the United States and to demonstrate pathways to building lasting peace.