Yale President Richard Levin left New Haven for Davos, Switzerland on Monday to join more than 2,000 business, government and academic leaders from 96 countries this week for the year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
The forum participants — gathered this year under the theme of “Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices” — will discuss ways to deal with recent geopolitical changes in the international community. Levin, who is an economist and is slated to moderate one of the conference’s meetings, will be joined by Secretary Linda Lorimer, School of Management Dean Jeffrey Garten and several Yale professors from a variety of departments at the conference. In addition, University officials plan to meet with about 100 Yale alumni who are also expected to attend.
The five-day conference will address issues including the coming election in Iraq, new leadership in Ukraine and the election of a new president for the Palestinian Authority. The meeting will feature major addresses from speakers including former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Levin said the attendance of Yale faculty members at the forum will help bolster the University’s global visibility. In the past, Yale representatives have made important contacts at the annual meeting that have led to new research grants and academic opportunities, said Levin, who traditionally attends the conference.
“This is a very influential group of people,” Levin said. “They see Yale’s expertise as playing an important role in the world.”
Levin will moderate a session discussing 12 key global issues and plans to participate in sessions dealing with the Indian economy and intellectual property law, as well as a panel on the economic health of universities moderated by former Yale Provost Alison Richard, who now serves as vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
Lorimer, who traveled with a Yale delegation to India earlier this month, said she will be involved in a session with university leaders from around the world looking for new international partnerships.
Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, a Yale-trained economist who serves as the director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, will lead a panel on prosperity in Latin America on Friday.
Economics professor Robert Shiller, environmental law professor Daniel Esty and divinity professor Lamin Sanneh will also attend the conference, Levin said. Shiller is scheduled to lead discussions on economies in developed countries and how to spot financial market “bubbles” that are likely to burst.
Esty said he will report the results of his environmental sustainability index on Friday at a session called “Who’s the Greenest of them all?” The project, which was created by Esty with research teams at Yale and Columbia University, ranks 146 countries on their environmental stewardship. The index, last released in 2002, is one of the major pieces of research to come out of Yale in recent years, Esty said.
“This is a very big world stage forum to use to launch this project and, as an academic, it’s rare to get as much attention as this report is getting,” he said.
Yale’s representatives at the meeting will benefit not only from their participation in the forum’s formal programs, but also from the more informal meetings they have with colleagues, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said.
“I do think it’s a case that the people from Yale who attend are both making a contribution to these discussions and also broadening their knowledge in ways that adds to their ability to fulfill their responsibilities at Yale,” he said.