For much of the 20th century, educators, activists, institutions and civil society organizations worked to foster an engaged public that would embrace participation in foreign policy as a civic duty—with the idea that an informed global citizenry could lead to a more prosperous and peaceful world. One of the many results of this period were the formation of organizations like the World Affairs Councils, a network of nonpartisan, nonprofit enterprises that expanded across the country during the midcentury. WorldOregon was part of that groundbreaking movement from its founding in 1950 forward —hosting public programs like Great Decisions (which started here in the 1950s) that engaged Oregonians with the world and with each other.
But what was the backstory behind this national movement for citizen education in world affairs? What inspired philanthropic institutions like the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and the Foreign Policy Association to invest in a vision of ordinary Americans discussing global current events over the back fence, in libraries, over coffee and tea, and in cities and towns, big and small across the country? What role did Oregon play in the rise of this promising road map for democratically minded, aspiring citizen-statespersons concerned about our global future?
Join us for a discussion with historian David Allen as we explore the surprising stories behind Every Citizen a Statesman: The Dream of a Democratic Foreign Policy in the American Century and consider the ongoing lessons of this movement and how we might continue to hone and harness these ideas and their impact as our world confronts increasing polarization and a need for informed civil discourse across partisan divides.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
David Allen is a historian of United States foreign relations and a former fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. He previously taught at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, and his research appears in the International History Review and Journal of Cold War Studies. He writes regularly on classical music for the New York Times.
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