Yale officials and professors both presented and protested at the recently concluded World Economic Forum held in New York City.
While Yale President Richard Levin, School of Management Dean Jeffrey Garten, law professor Daniel Esty, foreign policy expert Paul Kennedy and economics professor Jean Lanjouw participated in the forum, anthropology professor David Graeber led a protest movement on behalf on the anarchist group he helped found, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence.
The forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, for the past 31 years, was moved to New York City because of security concerns surrounding the wealthy Alpine resort and as a show of solidarity with New York after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. An estimated 3,000 participants included many of the world’s chief executive officers, heads of state, and billionaires.
Part of the reason for the conference’s move to New York was because of the city’s ability to provide extensive security in expectation of protesters.
Graeber estimated that 25,000 people protested the forum, but Graeber said his group does not consider protest the proper term.
“We don’t consider it protest as much as direct action,” he said.
The protesters were primarily anarchists, Graber said, but he said that paradoxically the absence of other groups may have added to the event’s success.
“It was really successful in the sense that they have this thing they always try to do in the media, the good protesters and the bad protesters — ‘crazy anarchists’ who break windows,” Graeber said. “This was the first demonstration put together by the people who were supposed to be the bad protesters. It kind of shows that the way [the media] usually present this isn’t true.”
More faculty members participated in the conference than protested it, but Levin said Yale’s representation did not increase with the move to New York and was comparable to past years. He said the reason he started attending the conference was his increased emphasis on Yale’s international presence.
On Friday evening Levin and New York Gov. George Pataki ’67 served as hosts of a reception at the Yale Club.
Julian Revie ’02, the president of the Yale Entrepreneurial Society, attended the Yale reception and said Levin emphasized Yale’s new need-blind admissions policy for international students in his address.
“I think [the reception] was a great idea because one of Levin’s main initiatives as Yale enters its fourth century is to make Yale be the most prominent global university. It is events like this that put Yale into the spotlight,” Revie said.
Although Levin declined to drop specific names of attendees, other guests said the reception played host to powerful players.
“It was an incredible show of very, very important people,” Garten said.
On Monday Levin and Lanjouw served on a panel on international property rights and their implications on global development.
Garten, at the forum for the seventh time, moderated two panels covering the changing balance between business and government in the world economy and trends in global mergers. Garten said Yale has had a significant presence at the forum for the last couple of years.
“[Levin] is seen as one of the real sort of intellectual powerhouses at the conference,” Garten said.
Esty presented a study done by Yale and Columbia University that ranked the environmental health records of the world’s nations. The findings ranked the United States 51st, with Finland finishing in first place.
“We had a very good reaction to our efforts on environmental measurement, as well as the book that has just been released measuring environmental performance,” Esty said.