After a tumultuous first year marked by the departure of its director, the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization will host its first major international conference beginning this Thursday. In addition, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to give a speech in Battell Chapel on Oct. 2, courtesy of the globalization center.
The events will help kick off the tenure of new director and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81, after former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott ’68 left for the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
“The Silk Road in the 21st Century” conference, to be held this weekend at the Yale Law School, will address security issues in Central Asia through a series of panels. In addition to attracting scholars from around the world, the event will feature a live teleconference address from the presidents of three Central Asian nations — Edouard Shevardnadze of the Republic of Georgia, Heidar Aliev of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Askar Akaev of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Talbott began organizing the conference last year and will return to campus this week to take part in the conference.
Originally, Talbott had planned for this conference to be a three-part series. But because of his departure, the center is not sure if it will continue with the next two conferences, said Haynie Wheeler, the center’s associate director.
Despite Talbott’s departure, political science professor and conference organizer Keith Darden praised Talbott for his work on the conference, particularly for securing prominent politicians and scholars.
“It’s a pretty high-profile list of people,” Darden said. “We didn’t think we would be this successful in drawing people the first year out. A lot of it had to do with Strobe, and I’m sure it’ll continue under Zedillo.”
Neither Talbott nor Zedillo could be reached for comment.
In addition to this week’s conference on Central Asia and the Annan speech, the center will continue raising its international profile through the launch of an online globalization magazine next month.
The center’s director of publications, Nayan Chanda, who is coordinating the magazine’s launch, said the center’s operations will greatly benefit when it moves into Betts House — the former Davies Mansion — in two weeks. The World Fellows Program, which boasts 15 top scholars from around the world, has already moved its operations to the new location.
“[Moving to Betts House] will have an effect on our operations because the World Fellows will be in the same building,” Chanda said. “You’ll be able to just walk across the hall and meet someone from Uganda or Poland. You’re in sort of a mini-United Nations; it’ll be nice to have these types of interactions.”
Despite a change in leadership and location from last year, Chanda said he expects the center’s objectives to remain unchanged.
“There is no fundamental change in direction,” Chanda said. “The only difference between Strobe and Ernesto Zedillo is the difference in their backgrounds. [The changeover] will have a marginal impact on the center.”
But Wheeler said she believes the center will take a different course under Zedillo.
“I think [Talbott] built a great foundation last year, but we’ve got a whole fresh direction with a new director,” Wheeler said.
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