By Liliane Koziol, Program Director

In the International House tradition of exploring concepts of international importance, the programmatic theme this year is, The Year 2000 and Beyond: Impact of Globalization on Economics of the World. The goal is to examine the building blocks of world economies and study how globalization impacts them.

The kick-off event was a presentation on California, noting that what happens in the Bay Area affects what happens in the nation. R. Sean Randolph, President of the Bay Area Forum stressed that California, the world's 7th economy is not only knowledge-based and innovation driven, it also benefits from a strong research base, and outstanding labor and capital productivity.

Seventeen consul generals of the Iber-American Consular Association Roundtable came to I-House. They discussed the accomplishments of Mercosur, NAFTA, the Andean Community and the role of Latin America in the European Community. A paper on the Andean Community written by the Consul General of Ecuador is available on our website. Dr. Pedro Noguera, UC Berkeley's world-renown specialist on multiculturalism, also gave a fascinating talk on the cultural consequences of globalization. As people migrate, their identities shift. Community is now defined in terms of who we think we are and this is a rather disorienting factor.

In addition to hearing from experts, it is crucial to hear residents' voices. Through the fall, three panels of students discussed technology, the role of women, and peace and conflict resolution. The main ideas from the student discussions will be placed in the International House millennium time capsule.

Recurring themes of the presentations to-date were the disparate inequalities between the developed and the least developed nations, new global community issues, and hope in the new role of the UN and the UN Security Council. There is also great hope in civil societies and NGOs; and inconceivable until now, is the joint venture of the UN with private enterprises.

I-House alumnus and former Director of Political Affairs and Deputy Director of the UN Security Council Affairs Division, Dr. Abdelkader Abbadi, envisioned that the UN will not have a peace-keeping function in the future. Instead, it will undertake a new humanitarian role in development, environment, disease fighting, and dealing with refugees such as in the Kosovo war. As a case in point, a Serbian perspective of the Kosovo war by mayors of Belgrade and Pancevo stirred controversy in the Auditorium which was filled to capacity with almost 500 people. The mayors discussed the reconstruction of Yugoslavia in the wake of war. Many came out of curiosity to hear their perspective.

The series on globalization continues throughout the year. It is thought-provoking, and extremely popular. Call the Program Office at (510) 642-9460 to learn about programs planned after the winter holidays. With an International House alumni card, there is no charge for alumni to attend most programs.

Above: Rosemary van der Laan, Director of the United Nations Associations, speaks with I-House resident Seija Virtanen of Finland and graduate student Sabine Gerhard of Germany following her talk on The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century. In her lecture she asserted, “From the time you get up to the time you go to bed, your life is affected by the UN,” explaining that UN agencies set the international standards and norms for everything from food to the Internet.