Gannon to co-host JES Global Summit


Madeline Bruce, Editor-in-Chief

The Jefferson Educational Society will host its Global Summit XIII from Monday through Nov. 12, with five of the events being held at Gannon University.

After the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on in-person events for the program, the speaker series will return with Gannon as a co-host for the third year.

Gannon’s partnership with the Jefferson Educational Society as a co-host benefits not only Gannon students, faculty and staff, but the community at large surrounding the university, Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D., co-director of the School of Public Service and Global Affairs at Gannon, said.

“We’re downtown, we’re centrally located, and it’s part of being a university and a vital civic hub that connects not just students but the larger community to the big issues of today,” he said.

With national speakers coming to Erie, the Global summit is about moving theory into practice, Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., provost and vice president for student experience at Gannon, said.

“It allows scholars and practitioners to enjoy the opportunity to pass on wisdom and experiences to a new generation,” he said.

“These experiences give students additional tools to help them be greater contributors to society.”

This year, those national speakers include former President George W. Bush, renowned historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, President of the National Constitutions Center Jeffrey Rosen, and former White House Chiefs of Staff Andres Card and Mack McLarty, among others.

All of the events that Gannon will host will be held in the Yehl Ballroom. The events are as follows:

“An Evening with Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3.

“The History and Role of First Ladies,” featuring Barbara Perry, Stacy Cordery and Anita McBride at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8.

“A Conversation with Former White House Chiefs of Staff” featuring Andrew Card and Mack McLarty at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10.

“A New Deal to Great Society: FDR and LBJ” featuring Doris Kearns Goodwin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11.

“Holding the Line: Political Violence in America and the Implications for Democracy” featuring Robert Pape, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12

According to Bloodworth, other notable lectures that are part of the series include “The Impact of Systemic Racism in Communities of Color” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1, at the Jefferson Educational Society and “An Evening with President George W. Bush” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the Bayfront Convention Center

While sitting in a lecture for an evening might not sound appealing to students who already sat in classes all day, Bloodworth said that students can gain important perspectives that can’t be found in the classroom.

“These are extraordinarily consequential individuals who are going to help the audience understand the complicated issues swirling around in 2020 and 2021,” he said.

“They are all going to be speaking directly to what the last couple of years have brought.”

According to a survey published in the scientific journal Lancet Planetary Health, 75% of young people globally find the future to be frightening.

This is due to a myriad of things, from climate change, to political unrest, to the ongoing pandemic that has impacted the world for the last year and a half.

Though attending the Global Summit XIII lectures won’t solve the world’s problems, Bloodworth said hearing from experts can ease some of the anxiety students might have about the next few years.

“If you want to understand today and what things are going to be like in the next two to five years, the Global Summit can offer that,” Bloodworth said.

“No matter who you go see, it is going to help you understand current times, and if you understand, you’re going to have less anxiety.”

Students in the School of Public Service and Global Affairs and the pre-law program are eager to hear from world-class speakers to help them learn and understand what is going on in the world today.

“I’m looking forward to all of the excellent speakers who will be coming to Erie, but most importantly the conversations and topics they will be covering,” Molly Begeman, a sophomore public service and global affairs and history major, said.

“I’m excited to hear what these speakers have to say and be able to take away a lot of great ideas from them.”

According to Bloodworth, if students want to take away an understanding of the next two years, they should attend the events with Jeffrey Rosen, Robert Pape and the former White House chiefs of staff.

Abigail Bosco, a freshman legal studies major, however, said that she is anticipating the event with former President George W. Bush the most.

“He was president during some of the most monumental moments in our nation’s history,” Bosco said. “I believe he will be able to give the audience important warnings and advice relating to our nation and its freedom.”

Bosco also said she will be taking full advantage of the Global Summit events hosted by Gannon, as events of such caliber are hard to come by.

“I come from a relatively small town where opportunities to hear such distinguished people are not available, so I will be taking advantage of everything Gannon is offering by going to as many events as possible,” she said.

Even if students are on the fence about going, Bloodworth said the speakers are worth students’ time.

“For the vast majority of Gannon students, these are issues that are not necessarily in their classes every day,” he said. “And they’re most certainly not coming directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.”

For Begeman, attending the Global Summit is about gaining knowledge on topics that students might not know much about.

“We can gather ideas on how to solve issues that face our country and our own community,” she said. “And we can share this knowledge with our peers.”

This knowledge aids Gannon students in becoming global citizens, Iwanenko said.

“It is our obligation as a university to expose students to multiple points of view from individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise,” he said.

“Education should not take place in a vacuum. When students hear from ‘real world’ individuals’, the hope is that a lightbulb will go off and students realize they can also be transformative and be a part of something bigger than themselves.”


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