Former President Bill Clinton spoke on the phone with The College Times‘ Jack Waters, announcing that his foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) will expand its effort to college campuses through CGI University.
CGIU is a meeting that will bring together students, academics, and social, political and cultural leaders to discuss pressing issues and ways to bring about global action to solve them.
Similar to the Clinton Global Initiative annual meetings held each year in New York City, CGIU will inform and motivate a new generation of young people to act on urgent challenges focusing on energy & climate change, global health, poverty alleviation, and peace & human rights. According to the group, CGIU will concentrate on the following:
* Identify, cultivate, and engage college students to make tangible commitments to tackle global issues;
* Challenge universities to organize research and service-oriented commitments in targeted areas;
* Introduce and promote CGI’s work and mission to a new, younger audience; and
* Connect students, organizations and university administrators around the world with others working on similar issues.
Former President Bill Clinton: "Today’s college students have an unprecedented capacity to make a difference, both in their communities and half a world away. They also have incredible enthusiasm, optimism, passion to learn and a desire to help others. The CGI model is about collective action to make a difference, and it works because people who care come together not just to talk, but to form partnerships to bring about change. It’s a model that we know works and by offering it to college students I hope CGIU will give them a new outlet to tackle problems and foster social change."
Jack Waters: President Clinton, what steps can we take as college students in society to become more proactive rather than reactive to the issues CGI addresses? In other words, should we independently organize, or affiliate with a university or national entity?
BC: "Well, I think whether you affiliate with a national entity or not is your own choice. But I think that you ought to – just as Tulane has a community service requirement – every college or university in this country could at least have its own non-governmental organization with its own charter, organized as a 501(c3) so you can get tax deductible contributions. And then you can pick projects that you’re going to deal with, and it would grow over time. You could start with one domestic project and maybe one international project. But I think this ought to become a part of college life. I think students should think of this as just another part of their education, another part of their development as citizens, and another part of the opportunity to learn and the responsibility to leave the world a better place. I think that I’d like to see colleges brand their non-governmental organizations the same way they brand their sports teams or their bands or their orchestras or their choral groups. You know, I think that really is a way to get everybody into it. I would like everybody to want to join that more than they wanted to be in their favorite fraternity, sorority or other group. My recommendation is that’s a good way to start because then people can get involved and you know it’s yours, you own it, and you can measure what impact you’re having."
The inaugural meeting of CGIU will take place March 14-16, 2008, at Tulane University in New Orleans, La.
CGIU will consist of plenary sessions and panel and group discussions that will give students the opportunity to ask questions, develop ideas, and form commitments. Before the event’s closing, students will be asked to make a commitment to do something – whether big or small – to improve the world. Students will also have the chance to participate in a day-long service project in the Katrina-affected area of New Orleans, sponsored by CGIU.
Pres. Scott Cowen of Tulane University took part in the conference call as well, saying, "I am hoping that all of you, will join us at Tulane in New Orleans for the Clinton Global Initiative University because I think you’ll be exposed to individuals and thinking that will transform you and hopefully transform the world."
Students who are unable to attend CGIU, and those wishing to apply or to submit comments, can visit CGIU’s Web site at http://www.cgiu.org