|UND to host national symposium on climate change impacts|
UND will host two nationally recognized experts on emerging threats to national security this week, leading off what organizers hope will become an annual national security symposium at UND.
Retired Vice-Admiral Dennis McGinn, former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, will discuss “Climate Change, Energy Independence, and Nuclear Proliferation: 21st Century Challenges to American National Security” at 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, in the Memorial Union. McGinn’s presentation is free and open to the public.
McGinn and Matthew Rojansky, a former fellow at the Stanford University Center of International Security and Cooperation and executive director of the Partnership for a Secure America, will also lead a public symposium that includes a panel of UND faculty providing commentary and questions. That event will take place at 2 p.m. in the James Ray Idea Lab at UND’s Center for Innovation.
The UND panel will include the following UND faculty members:
*Gregory Gordon, assistant professor of law and director of the UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies.
*Andrei Kirilenko, associate professor in the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences Department of Earth System Science and Policy and a co-author of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.
*Bret Weber, an assistant professor in the UND College of Education and Human Development Department of Social Work and an advisor to the Grand Forks Energy Alliance and to the PLUS Program.
*David Whalen, associate professor and chair, UND Aerospace Department of Space Studies.
Both sessions are part of a national program aimed at maintaining a nonpartisan national dialogue on the science of climate change, the impacts of prospective energy reform, and the possible effects of nuclear weapons proliferation. The local sponsor of both sessions is the UND chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honorary society.
“We’ve been talking for awhile about holding a national security conference at UND,” said Albert Berger, an associate professor of history at UND who is organizing the event. “We hope that this will jumpstart a conference for nonpartisan discussion on important issues. We want to focus on the future and look beyond the Cold War model.”
Berger said that McGinn doesn’t approach the global warming issue from the perspective of a “stereotypical environmentalist.” The retired admiral served 35 years as a naval aviator, test pilot, aircraft carrier commander, and national security strategist. He also commanded the U.S. Third Fleet and, at the Pentagon, served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for warfare requirements and programs.
Rojansky served as a judicial clerk on the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the highest court for the U.S. military. At Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, he conducted research on international criminal law and served as a section instructor in political science. He’s also organized UN Security Council simulations dealing with the Iranian nuclear crisis at US and Russian universities.
“The goal is to have conversations on national security that emphasize the concerns people have today,” said Berger, who teaches 20th century U.S. history with wide-ranging interests in nuclear weapons and business history.
Berger mentions that global warming could create changes in different parts of the world that lead to tensions and conflict, and America’s dependence on imported oil makes it vulnerable to a variety of threats.
“Nuclear proliferation is an important issue because, unlike the Cold War era, nuclear weapons might be used with no obvious connection to a particular country or government,” Berger said. “How do we prevent someone from attacking the U.S. by smuggling in a nuclear weapon? And, if it happens, how do we respond if we don’t know specifically where the weapon came from?”
-- Juan Pedraza, Writer/Editor, University Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-6571