Bryn Mawr students join event with British Prime Minister, Madeline Albright, Obama advisor Paul Volker

Posted April 3rd, 2009 at 3:20 pm.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown/Photo Courtesy Caroline Troein

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown/Photo Courtesy Caroline Troein

Twelve Bryn Mawr students joined President Jane McAuliffe last week for a special invitation-only panel discussion at New York University featuring British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and two-time Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker, who currently chairs President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

The invitation to attend the event came about as a result of President McAuliffe’s participation in the U.K./U.S. Study Group on Higher Education in a Globalized World, a small group of higher-education leaders from the United States and the United Kingdom, formed at the request of Brown, who is deeply interested in the current state and future potential of U.S./U.K. college and university collaboration.

Brown was in New York as a run-up to this week’s G-20 meeting in London and asked NYU president John Sexton, who co-chaired the U.K./U.S. Study Group, to set up a meeting with the group’s U.S. members as well as a larger forum on the general topic of multilateralism.

Joining the Bryn Mawr students at the event, which was titled “A New Multilaterlism in the 21st Century,” was a large contingent of NYU students and faculty; students from Princeton, whose president also served on the U.K./U.S. Study Group; and a number of New York-based dignitaries.

Brown, Albright and Volker started the discussion with a few minutes of opening remarks, but the rest of the hourlong event was open for questions from the audience.

Among those who had an opportunity to address the panel was Caroline Troein ’09.

Troein asked the panel for their thoughts on how a possible rise in worldwide economic protectionism might affect international cooperative efforts in noneconomic areas, such as environmental efforts, postconflict reconstruction, and education.

Her question was fielded by Brown and Albright.

“While neither of them made a direct prediction and thus didn’t directly answer the question, they both warned of the dangers of noncooperation,” said Troein.

“Much of the discussion was about the continuing need for multilateralism in a period of economic crisis when it is certain to be under attack because nationalist protectionism will look increasingly attractive,” said McAuliffe. “I think one of the concerns that Prime Minister Brown and President Obama share is that these protectionist tendencies will start to assert themselves and impede efforts to engage in a more multilateral response to the global economic situation.”

After the forum, McAuliffe, Princeton President Shirley Tilghman, Sexton, and the two other U.S. members of the U.S./U.K. Study Group—Association of American Universities President Bob Berdhal and American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad— met privately with their U.K. colleagues and Brown, to whom the group had given a final report in January.

“At this point the dissemination and further discussion of our report is in the Prime Minister’s hands. I don’t know if he will convene the study group again, but I am very grateful for the experience that this endeavor provided. It’s been an absolutely fascinating to participate in a think tank with colleagues who have given so much thought to the globalization of higher education,” said McAuliffe.

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