Conference on World Affairs opens Monday

62nd annual think-fest won't lack for conversation
By Staff

From Monday, April 5, through Friday, April 9, for the 62nd time since 1948, distinguished guests from throughout the United States and the world will pay their own way to participate in a unique event that film critic Roger Ebert refers to as the "Conference on Everything Conceivable."

The University of Colorado at Boulder's annual Conference on World Affairs will offer nearly 200 events, all free and open to the public.

Notable guests joining Ebert at the conference this year include acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog, decorated veteran and West Point professor Colonel Isaiah "Ike" Wilson, "Saturday Night Live" alum Julia Sweeney, radio host John Hockenberry, scientific historian Naomi Oreskes and author and political commentator Jim Hightower.

The theme for the 62nd conference is "Free Thinking," which director Jim Palmer said "is meant to describe both the conference's cost-free attendance and its unrestricted, free-ranging topics and ideas. We are committed to keeping the conference free in both senses."

Many of the events illustrate the CWA planning committee's commitment to free thought. This year's keynote, delivered by Wilson at 11:30 a.m. Monday, April 5, in Macky Auditorium, is titled "Rethinking American Power." Other panels include "I Never Let My Schooling Interfere with My Education," and "Out of this World: Is Music Solely a Terrestrial Art?"

This year's schedule highlights include a plenary address by Naomi Oreskes at 1 p.m. Monday in Macky Auditorium. She will be giving the National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research 50th anniversary lecture, titled "Communicating Climate Science: Why Is This So Hard?" Oreskes is a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, whose research focuses on the development of scientific knowledge and understanding scientific consensus and dissent.

Following Oreskes in Macky Auditorium, Herzog will speak at 3 p.m. on the topic "Traveling on Foot." Besides "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," Herzog has created a number of acclaimed films including "Fitzcarraldo" and "Grizzly Man."

At noon Friday, April 9, David Walker will give a plenary talk, "Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility." Walker is CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, where he focuses on promoting federal fiscal responsibility.

The conference will close with the annual Molly Ivins Freedom Fightin' Memorial Plenary at 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 9, in Macky Auditorium. This year, John Hockenberry, host of "The Takeaway," will address the topic, "Where Have All the Powers Gone."

Finally, the annual jazz concert continues to grow in popularity. This year, advance ticketing will be required in order to manage the maximum capacity event. The concert remains free and open to the public although the ticketing agent will institute a service charge of $1 per ticket to cover administrative fees.

Volunteers from the Boulder community and campus are integral to pulling off the logistics of the yearly conference. Local residents house the participants and hundreds of other volunteers provide local transportation, coordinate panels and manage crowds at the events.

Students in particular are an integral part of nearly every aspect of the event. Leading the students' efforts this year are Bryan New and Lynne Feingold, who coordinate more than 60 student volunteers in positions from coordinating panels to managing transportation. Feingold started as a student driver in 2007 and has been involved in numerous aspects of the conference since then.

Through her involvement, Feingold said she has been exposed to marketing, student volunteer management, and digital media and graphics design. "I love the CWA because the opportunities to contribute are endless — I've learned so much."

Two of the student volunteers, Rena Goldstein and Darby Shier, manage a fleet of 14 vehicles and 50 student volunteers, making sure that each participant has transportation to the airport and a way to and from campus each day. "We coordinate the transportation for all our participants," explains Shier. "It's cool to have so much responsibility in such an influential organization."

CU-Boulder students are allowed priority access to most events and are invited to meet with Conference participants at a free brunch on April 6 at 10:30 a.m. on the Norlin Quadrangle. All students will receive free breakfast burritos with a student ID and will be able to chat with attendees from West Point, National Public Radio, Dwell Magazine and the U.S. Foreign Service.

Members of the public attending the Conference on World Affairs are encouraged to use public transportation, as there is no event parking on campus. Those driving are encouraged to park for free on the second level of the Macy's parking structure at the Twenty Ninth Street shopping mall in Boulder, located on the southwest corner of 30th Street and Walnut Street, and take the free HOP bus to campus.

The HOP bus will run on its normal route arriving every seven to 10 minutes between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The two stops nearest the Macy's parking structure are at 29th and Walnut streets and 30th and Walnut streets.

For a complete schedule and more information, visit the Conference on World Affairs' Web site at