by Jenny Hernandez
March 23. 2005
Caption: The town hall meeting focused on the effects that global policies could have in the international community. The new group seeks to promote awareness of other nations.
Last night a new non-partisan student organization, Americans for Informed Democracy (AID), hosted a town-hall meeting titled “U.S. Security and the Global Environment.” The presentation was held in the Garden Room at the U.Va. Colonnade and focused on the effects that the U.S.’s global environment policies could have in the international arena.
Featuring William Mansfield, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and Jacob Scherr, the Director of International Programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, the event addressed issues such as the impact of global environment trends in U.S. security and the effectiveness of current U.S. procedure to protect the global environment.
“It is important that one of [the U.S.'s] primary goals should be the environment, not only because it’s a vital resource, but because it will affect how we are seen in the world and hence our global security,” said Kitty Ganier, co-president of the University chapter of AID.
Ganier said the global environment and other current international issues such as the war in Iraq and Aids in Africa are all interrelated issues when it comes to outside perspectives of the United States.
Promoting U.S. consciousness of external international views of the nation is the ultimate purpose of AID, Ganier said. Events such as last night’s town hall are part of the AID initiative, “Red, White, and Blue Coming Together.” The initiative is a response to the heightened political divisions created after an intense presidential election. “Red, White, and Blue,” seeks to demonstrate that significant common ground exists in a number of key foreign policy areas.
AID is a national organization that was started in 2001 by two American university students studying at Oxford, Ganier said. The students realized most American university students did not know how the United States was viewed in the world and set out to start a program to educate them.
This is the inaugural year for the University chapter of AID, which is also headed by co-president, Jasdeep Ghumann. Ganier and Ghumann are both foreign affairs majors who attended an AID retreat last summer and were motivated to bring AID’s mission to the University. Yesterday’s presentation is the second event put on by the chapter — the first event was hosted in October and was titled “Hope, Not Hate.”
“Our biggest goal is to inform and educate,” Ghumann said.
Ganier and Ghumann agreed their main purpose is to get people out and interested in issues that affect them.
“Events such as these are part of the amazing wealth of knowledge the university has to offer,” Ganier said. “It is my hope that they will inspire and motivate students to understand they can make a change in the world.”