Yale President Richard Levin joined 2,000 business, government and advocacy leaders from around the globe Wednesday for this year’s annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The forum participants convened to attend sessions on the state of the world economy and geopolitics. Levin — who is slated to moderate three of these sessions — as well as Yale professors from a range of departments and Vice President Linda Lorimer received invitations to attend the “prestigious” conference, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said. About 100 Yale alumni will also be in attendance.
The five-day conference will cover topics including the United States’ involvement in Iraq, peace in the Middle East, and the debate over globalization. Speakers include United Nations Secretary Kofi Annan, Vice President Dick Cheney, and keynote speaker former President Bill Clinton. About half of the participants in the forum are corporate chief executives, Levin said. Business leaders such as Bill Gates of Microsoft are also slotted to attend.
Klasky, who attended the conference five years ago, said Yale’s representation at the forum speaks highly for the University.
“The WEF is a conference for global leaders,” Klasky said. “Yale’s strong presence in terms of administrators, faculty and alumni clearly illustrates Yale’s prestige, influence and global leadership.”
Levin said the conference is an opportunity for Yale to become a more internationally involved institution. The forum provides him with an opportunity to interact with influential international leaders who could potentially become partners of Yale, Klasky said.
“As we’ve begun to focus more on internationalism at the University, the fact that I’ve been a participant creates contacts for Yale,” Levin said.
Levin served as moderator at a Wednesday session on the state of international trade relations, focusing on the ongoing Doha round of the World Trade Organization negotiations. On Thursday, Levin will moderate discussions on digital piracy and the question of whether universities contribute to the depletion of developing countries’ intellectual resources.
Levin said attending the conference is of particular personal interest to him because of his background in economics.
In addition to scheduled events, Levin will make time for meetings this week with other forum participants including Harvard President Lawrence Summers. Another of Levin’s “extra” activities is a luncheon with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Klasky said. There will also be a reception for Yale affiliates and alumni at the conference.
Klasky said the experience and knowledge Yale professors and administrators gain from the forum will follow them back to New Haven.
“When you’re exposed to the great minds around the world and powerful people, I would assume it can only help in the efforts of Yale to expand globally as well as [help] the professors [in the classroom],” Klasky said.