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Home / News 2003 / Student Group Aims to Promote ‘Globally Conscious America’

Student Group Aims to Promote ‘Globally Conscious America’

The Chronicle of Higher Education
01/31/2003

American students in Britain decided to do something about always feeling that they were being put on the defensive about their country.

Seth Green, a Marshall scholar at the University of Oxford, has co-founded Americans for Informed Democracy, or AID, an Oxford-based group that aims to make Americans more appreciative of their foreign allies, and vice versa.

“I think there is strong resentment of U.S. foreign policy on Oxford’s campus,” says Mr. Green, though he adds that Americans themselves are “overwhelmingly embraced.” The mission of AID, he says, is to “promote international good will toward the United States, and to inspire a more globally conscious America.”

Members have churned out a stream of opinion articles for American student newspapers, including the Harvard Crimson, the Daily Princetonian, and the Smith Sophian. Most criticize President Bush for unilateralism, although Mr. Green insists that AID is nonpartisan.

AID is also organizing campus events. Early next month, an open meeting will be held at Oxford’s American Institute to discuss U.S. foreign policy and ways of defusing anti-Americanism.

More than 200 American students studying in eight countries, from Vietnam to Venezuela, have joined AID, which has a shoestring budget supported by its members’ writings.

“It provides a lot of sustaining energy here — it has been frustrating to be abroad,” says Jason Wasfy, also a Marshall scholar, who arrived at Oxford two weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

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McGill University and the Sauvé Scholars Foundation are starting a fellowship program modeled in part on the Nieman fellowships at Harvard University.

While McGill’s Sauvé scholars will not necessarily be journalists, they will be expected to have a “strong interest in the media” and to be in the early stages of their careers. Most are to be chosen from developing countries.

The scholars will be on the Montreal campus for nine months, with access to all academic programs, but they will not take exams and will not earn academic credit. The first 12 Sauvé scholars, who are to arrive in September, will live in an old mansion that is being renovated to create studio apartments and common rooms. The fellows will receive a stipend valued at about $19,500, along with group trips to sites of academic and cultural interest in Canada and the northeastern United States.

The Sauvé Scholars Foundation was established by the late Jeanne Sauvé, a journalist and politician who was Canada’s first female governor general and first female speaker of the House of Commons. McGill says it will provide the scholars with “intimate weekly seminars with eminent journalists, political figures and innovators in business, academia, and the arts.”

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