Former President William J. Clinton invited Bennington’s President Elizabeth Coleman to join him at a press conference on Saturday, March 15, 2008, to inaugurate the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U)—a new venture of the Clinton Global Initiative that challenges college students and universities to tackle global problems with practical, innovative solutions. Clinton highlighted just two commitments in his press announcement: Bennington College’s and a commitment made by a Yale undergraduate student.
“Bennington’s commitment is an attempt to go beyond a false debate and to say that you can study the basic subjects of the liberal arts and also figure out a way to practically apply them to change people’s lives,” Clinton remarked. “I really think Bennington’s commitment is very important and could spark a lot of other colleges and universities that are not involved in this kind of work to do the same thing. President Coleman, I thank you for your vision.”
Through its new initiative, Bennington will address the complexity and urgency of six global challenges: economics and equity; the environment and sustainability; health; sustaining democratic governance; education; the appropriate and inappropriate uses of force. Specifically Bennington College will: 1) embed in its curriculum the depth of intellectual demands, the diversity of perspectives, and the strategic intelligence necessary to address these critical challenges; 2) engage a faculty that includes activists, politicians, journalists, and public intellectuals in addition to scientists, artists and scholars; 3) build a major new green facility to enable and enhance the programs objectives‹the work of the center will serve as a catalyst for making concerns for the public good an informing principle of curriculum.
This inaugural CGI U event, held March 16–18, 2008, in New Orleans, Louisiana, brought together hundreds of students, university officials, and global leaders—each willing to commit to taking real, concrete steps towards solving problems within CGI U's four main focus areas: energy and climate change, global health, human rights and peace, and poverty alleviation. Twenty-three institutions in addition to Bennington—including Brown, Cornell, Hobart and William Smith, Rice University, Tufts, Tulane, the University of Colorado, and the University of Vermont—participated, and Tulane University hosted the event.
As part of the William J. Clinton Foundation, CGI brings together world leaders, NGOs, and the private sector to convert good intentions into meaningful action and tangible results. Over the past three years, CGI's high-profile members have delivered remarkable commitments. To bring about lasting social change, President Clinton firmly believes the next generation of young leaders must also be a part of this effort; CGI U challenges them to do so.
Read the Rutland Herald article.