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Seminars to give students, faculty, staff chance to discuss international issues

New Mexico State University students, professors, staff and other participants from across the nation will have an opportunity to discuss and ask questions on international issues with advisers of the Republican and Democratic 2008 presidential candidates on the 7th anniversary of 9/11.

Other international relations experts will also be on the panel in a seminar series set up by The Meridian International Center, a nonprofit educational institution in Washington, D.C. Panelists and participants will interact in the first of five seminars via a web conference at 4:30 p.m. MDT on Thursday, Sept. 11.

"Each panelist is respected as an expert in foreign policy," said Jason Ackleson, associate professor of government at NMSU College of Arts and Sciences. "It's a great opportunity for students to interact with those types of people and set perspectives on these issues."

The series was brought to NMSU by the university's Department of Government, Department of Economic and International Business and the International Relations Institute as a pre-election program to increase awareness of the presidential candidates' positions on specific issues such as terrorism, the economy, environment and global markets, to name a few. The Meridian Global Engagement Series - Decision 2008 will focus on the candidates and their opinions on foreign affairs.

Panelists for the first seminar are to include officials from homeland security, a senior fellow at New America Foundation, in addition to official advisers to presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.

Panelists scheduled for Sept. 11 are: Peter Bergen, a Schwartz senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., and CNN's national security analyst; John Brennan, president and CEO of The Analysis Corp., adviser to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, of Illinois; Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, adviser to Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona; and Frank Cilluffo, director and vice president for homeland security at George Washington University and former special assistant to President George W. Bush on homeland security.

Moderators for this first seminar are experts in the fields of public policy and politics. The moderators will be Marvin Kalb of America Abroad Media who is a professor and author of topics dealing with public policy and terrorism, and Kojo Nnamdi who is a host of a political radio talk show on WAMU and a public television program on WHUT-TV, both located in Washington, D.C.

NMSU students and others in the participating organizations will submit questions via e-mail and live chat to be distributed to the moderators and panelists.

"It's a great opportunity for students to interact with those types of people and set perspectives on these issues," Ackleson said. Questions for the first seminar will focus on how the next president of the United States will confront specific issues and the effect on global and local economies. Each topic was pre-determined by Meridian, and the Sept. 11 topic will focus on the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

"My graduate and undergraduate students have been preparing questions (for the panelists), and they are looking forward to this interactive experience," said Yosef Lapid, professor of government at NMSU. He and Ackleson said they built this seminar schedule into their classroom activities for this semester.

"This innovative format is really neat. It's a great way to engage the students in the classroom and generates discussion," Lapid said.

Participants will link from their campus or office to the Meridian House in D.C. Other institutes participating in the conference include The World Affairs Councils of America, The United Nations Association, "Campus Voices" (a coalition of 18 leading universities based at Harvard), "UChannel" (a coalition of leading technology universities based at Princeton) and international sites through U.S. embassies.

As the dates of each seminar approach, technical details and room assignments may shift and the originally planned telecast could allow for a webcast format. A major benefit to having webcast access allows for the seminar to be viewed from anywhere and for future viewing, Ackleson said. This seminar will be recorded for radio broadcast at a later date.

Below is a list of future seminars:
?Sept. 18, "America the Beautiful: The View From Abroad" at 4:30 p.m. MDT, Upstairs Conference Room in Anderson Hall
?Sept. 24, "Energy and Environment: American Policy in a World of Increasing Competition and Soaring Resource Costs" at 4:30 p.m. MDT, Upstairs Conference Room in Anderson Hall
?Oct. 2, "America in the World Economy: Fair Competition and Open Markets" at 4:30 p.m. MDT, Upstairs Conference Room in Anderson Hall
?Oct. 9, "America and the Multilateral World" at 4:30 p.m. MDT, Upstairs Conference Room in Anderson Hall

NMSU faculty, staff and students will be directly participating in the seminars scheduled for Sept. 11 and Oct. 2 and 9. For additional information on the series contact Ackleson at (575) 646-4935 or visit www.meridian.org.