Former U.N. adviser lectures at NU

Maria LaMagna

After his speech on American foreign policy, Stanford University Prof. Stephen Stedman said some of the information he shared with the audience on Monday could be perceived as startling.

Stedman, a former assistant secretary-general and special advisor to the secretary general of the United Nations, spoke to about 60 people at Hardin Hall on the need for reform within the United Nations, considering how much the international climate has changed since the institution was founded.

“There is a whole host of threats that we face today that were simply not imaginable in 1945,” he said.

Stedman’s lecture, “American Foreign Policy and the Challenges of the 21st Century,” was sponsored by Northwestern’s political science department and The Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies.

Stedman’s tone during the speech was calm but inspired plenty of enthusiastic questions from the audience that continued until after the question-and-answer session, when students and professionals gathered during the reception to get an additional word in or share their views of international institutions and the current state of foreign policy.

Stedman, who teaches political science at Stanford, mentioned possible threats to national security such as transnational terrorists, global warming and deadly pandemics. Stedman also said the United States should cooperate with other nations so they will assist in U.S. affairs.

“I think a certain amount of fear is justified in the face of threats,” he said afterwards. “Fear can be used productively to work to make sure these threats are not realized.”

Medill freshman Fabiano Leal said he decided to hear Stedman speak after his Introduction to International Relations professor encouraged the class to attend the event.”One of the things we’re talking about (in class) is the interaction between countries,” Leal said. “The most interesting thing in his talk was in reference to how developing countries or emerging countries like Brazil, India and China have to engage in world politics.”

As a native of Brazil who has also studied in Costa Rica, Leal said his status as an international student also drew him to Stedman’s lecture.

“Since I’m here the U.S., I wanted to see what a scholar here would say about foreign policy.”

Weinberg sophomore Sean Gordon-Marvin said he found Stedman’s words on current issues most interesting, including information about policies from the Clinton administration and Stedman’s work with the United Nations. However, Gordon-Marvin, a former Daily photographer, said he thinks Stedman missed a few points.

“The vision he presents is really motivating, but I wish he would have focused more on how pragmatically feasible it is in terms of domestic issues that would go into any sort of international relations,” Gordon-Marvin said.

After the lecture, Stedman said students who want to work in international relations or foreign policy can pursue a number of avenues beyond studying political science.”The world has lots of problems that you don’t have to go into foreign policy to solve,” he said.

[email protected]