Published: March 1, 2018 By

Bruce Benson

Thinkers, Doers, Dreamers 

I was a student at CU when I attended my first Conference on World Affairs. I frankly don’t remember which sessions, but after all, it was more than 50 years ago.

I do know that during my time on campus in the early 1960s the CWA featured Henry Kissinger (long before he was a household name), architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller, the then-president of Costa Rica and several ambassadors, living up to its slogan, “Bringing the World to Boulder.”

The conference was about 15 years old then, but it already had a reputation as a preeminent gathering of thinkers, doers and dreamers. This April, it celebrates its 70th year, and it’s as strong as ever. Under the leadership of political science professor John Griffin (Law’95), the venerable CWA is at the forefront of our efforts to ensure CU is a place where discussion and debate thrive.

The conference is a great vehicle for furthering conversations that engage people across the intellectual spectrum. Its program committee actively seeks out diverse voices as it considers speakers, making for a lively and engaging event.

I was talking with Apple co-founder (and CU alumnus) Steve Wozniak (ElEngr ex’72; HonDocSci’89) before he gave the keynote address at the 2016 event, and I asked what drew him to the CWA. He told me he liked the atmosphere of diverse ideas and being around so many out-of-the-box thinkers. That’s high praise and great insight from someone who is as out of the box as they come.

Griffin is also working to expand the role of students in the conference and considering how it can enhance their experience and help prepare tomorrow’s leaders. The CWA is contributing to a broader campuswide effort that challenges students to engage in the world beyond campus.

I hope my fellow alumni are proud, as I am, that their alma mater hosts such a remarkable event. And I hope many of you will take the opportunity to return to Boulder this spring for this milestone occurrence. If you can’t do that, you’ll be able to watch live and archived videos of sessions on the conference website. The CWA is unique to our university, one of the things that sets us apart from our peers. At age 70, it’s as vibrant as ever.

Illustration by Melinda Josie