Holbrooke ’62 talks campaign in study group

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Professor-at-large Richard Holbrooke ’62, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former Herald editor-in-chief, conducted the first of three study groups for about 35 students at the Joukowsky Forum of the Watson Institute for International Studies Monday evening.

Holbrooke, who serves as a policy adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., spoke about the campaign and its potential effect on U.S. policy on the war in Iraq. Holbrooke said he plans to direct the next meeting of the study group, which will be held on March 10, to other foreign policy issues that candidates must address.

Holbrooke has served as the U.S. ambassador to both Germany and the U.N. He served as assistant secretary of state to both Asia and Europe and was instrumental in brokering the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia.

For students, the study group was intended to “bring a perspective they might not normally get from a regular professor,” said Geoffrey Kirkman ’91, associate director of the Watson Institute.

The institute has offered similar groups with former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos and former Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso, both professors-at-large, according to its Web site. It also plans to offer a session with public radio personality and Visiting Fellow of International Studies Christopher Lydon, Kirkman said. The institute hopes to “provide a real service to students with some of our high-profile visitors,” he said.

Former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee ’75, visiting fellow of international studies, was one of the first fellows to hold a student study group, Kirkman said. Students raved about the study groups, calling it a “great complement to theoretical classes,” he said.

Holbrooke had three similar study groups last semester, said Miranda Fasulo, manager of planning and special programs at Watson. The sessions are mostly discussion-based and students are welcome to ask questions, she said.

Holbrooke began a five-year term as professor-at-large last February. He visits campus about once a month, Kirkman said. The former ambassador also advises President Ruth Simmons as the University continues with its internationalization efforts, Kirkman said, calling Holbrooke a “great person to have.”

The institute hopes to engage Holbrooke with students in other ways as time goes on, Kirkman said.

“He’s very enthusiastic about students,” he added.

Student reaction to the study group was positive. Christopher Hardy ’10 called it a “great first session with someone of Mr. Holbrooke’s stature and perspective,” adding that he did not think Holbrooke was “overtly partisan.”

“He defended his views but allowed us to challenge him,” Hardy added.

“I would have liked to see more students here,” Eric Dahlbom ‘08.5 said. “I would have thought it would be packed.” Dahlbom added that he enjoyed Holbrooke’s discussion of the election and praised him for not letting the discussion get “out of control.”

Holbrooke will also participate in a debate with John Bolton, also former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. The event will be held in Salomon 101 on Feb. 21.

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