International Affairs Symposium Tackles “The Blame Game”
by Franchesca Schrambling BA ’22
Lewis & Clark’s 60th International Affairs Symposium will kick off on April 4 and run through April 6. This year’s event, titled The Blame Game: Reimagining Fault and Responsibility on the Global Stage, addresses the role blame plays in current events. In the field of international affairs, blame is a tool used by every actor. Powerful states use it to flex their influence, while weaker states use it to build coalitions, call out aggressors, and apply political pressure. Through a series of five debates, symposium participants will gain a more robust and nuanced understanding of how blame influences events in our world.
The symposium’s planning committee, composed entirely of students, includes cochairs Madeline (“Mattie”) Gallagher BA ’22 and Madison (“Maddie”) Thomas BA ’22, and its steering committee members: Alie Cicero BA ’24, Hanadi Dreca BA ’24, Eliana Essman BA ’25, Lucas Glass BA ’22, Sophia Kingsbury BA ’24, Theo Kocs-Meyers BA ’25, Jesse Lawrence-Weilmann BA ’22, Cas Mulford BA ’23, Flavio de Pina Soares de Carvalho BA ’23, Milica Stanišić BA ’22, and Rocío Yao BA ’24.
“The committee was excited about the theme from day one,” says symposium cochair Maddie Thomas BA ’22. Thomas, a Pamplin Fellow, is an international affairs major and a Middle East and North African Studies minor. “We have all seen that blame is used by various actors on the global stage on a daily basis. Because of this, we wanted to ask how and why blame is used, and when and if blame is a useful tool under any circumstances. All of our debate questions tie back to this idea.”
The symposium is organized around a series of five debates, each addressing a question that is debated by speakers with opposing viewpoints. The idea is to stimulate thought by embracing controversy.
“We searched for experts who hold strong and differing opinions,” says cochair Mattie Gallagher BA ’22, an international affairs major and rhetoric and media studies minor. “The speakers you will see at this event are all very knowledgeable in international affairs and the debate topic. Their distinctly opposing opinions and approaches reflect the incredible range in the field.”
This year’s sessions, all held in Agnes Flanagan Chapel, will address these topics:
Debate 1: Protect Mother Earth. At all Costs?
Is the destruction of property and infrastructure in the name of environmental protection effective?
Monday, April, 4, 3:30-5 p.m.
Speakers: Rod Coronado, animal rights and environmental activist, and Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, cofounder of Greenpeace, and environmental activist
Debate 2: The Sins of the Ancestors
Is blaming states and groups for the actions of their predecessors an effective way to make up for the wrongs of the past? Are reparations necessary in order to move forward?
Monday, April 4, 7:30-9 p.m.
Speakers: Roy Brooks, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego and author, and Armstrong Williams, American political commentator, entrepreneur, and author
Debate 3: Neutrality: Needless or Necessary?
Is a commitment to neutrality necessary in order for humanitarian aid organizations to be effective?
Tuesday, April 5, 3:30-5 p.m.
Speakers: Hichem Khadhraoui, head of operations at Geneva Call and former head of the Middle East Sector for Protection activities for the Red Cross, and Corinne Momal-Vanian, executive director at the Kofi Annan Foundation and a former United Nations official
Debate 4: No Pain No Gain?
Should sanctioning countries be blamed for the suffering inflicted upon civilians by economic sanctions?
Tuesday, April 5, 7:30-9 p.m.
Speakers: Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics and former U.S. Treasury deputy assistant secretary for international trade and investment policy, and Assal Rad, senior research fellow at the National Iranian American Council and commentator
Debate 5: Globalized (In)tolerance
Does globalization increase tolerance or exacerbate xenophobia?
Wednesday, April 6, 3:30-5 p.m.
Speakers: Tina Covey, a navy veteran, author, and entrepreneur, and Cris Shore, professor of social anthropology at the Goldsmiths, University of London and founding director of the Europe Institute
“Because of the pandemic, this is essentially the first ‘normal symposium’ to take place since 2019, and because of this, Mattie and I have both felt a good bit of pressure to bring the IA Symposium back to our community with a bang,” says Thomas. “We have had a wonderful steering committee this year, and all the credit goes to them for their creativity and drive in cultivating this event.”