By Robert Liu, ’14
SIG’s Campus Awareness Committee had a memorable, productive, and pioneering year. The weekly policy lunches have remained its hallmark events, and this year were particularly timely, with speakers and topics that coincided with current events in domestic and international politics.
The year started strong with a well-attended lunch on the Syria crisis featuring Professor Coit D. Blacker, who spoke about the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict and offered U.S. foreign policy insights. Other renowned speakers included scholars John Taylor on the impact of monetary policy on the U.S. economy, Sig Hecker on the North Korean nuclear program, Morris Fiorina on political polarization in Washington, and Amy Zegart on the controversy surrounding the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.
Another feature of this year’s events was variety. The committee sought speakers from fields beyond political science, economics, and public policy, as well as speakers from outside organizations.
SIG hosted Joseph Cohn, legislative and policy director for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), for a discussion on freedom of speech and due process on college campuses. In January, SIG hosted Colonel Tom Nelson, senior military fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), for a discussion on reforming U.S. military land power for the 21st century.
The most attended policy lunch of the year was led by former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford. A Nobel laureate in physics, Professor Chu served under President Obama as the twelfth U.S. Secretary of Energy. To a capacity crowd, he gave a rigorous and thorough account of evidence on the credibility and intensity of climate change as well as the most promising forms of sustainable energy.
The committee hopes to inaugurate the first “service lunch” in collaboration with the Campus and Community Partnerships Committee. Attendees at this lunch will learn about a policy topic from a faculty member; they will then be invited to engage with the issue personally through a service activity. This event is planned for the end of the 2013-14 academic year and will be the finale to a busy year of programming from Campus Awareness.