Spring starts Monday, and I look forward to things that are just around the corner — birds returning, more daylight hours, leaves on the trees and flowers blooming. But Spring also brings something annually to Boulder — the Conference on World Affairs (CWA). Without lapsing into Julie Andrew’s musical lyrics of “these are a few of my favorite things,” this year represents the 75th anniversary of this great event!
April 12 to 14, CU Boulder brings us together to explore significant global topics just as fervently as it did when CWA started in 1948. The conference has featured luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Molly Ivins, Roger Ebert, Amanda Gorman and Steve Wozniak. Past speaker Moses Ma affectionately called the conference “Burning Man for your brain.”
This year, CWA is tackling one of the most important subjects of our times, global climate change. The community volunteers, faculty and students have done what CWA does best — attract a diverse and eclectic lens to this issue with panelists including artists, scientists, activists, journalists, philosophers, business leaders and policymakers to engage in lively dialogue.
A longstanding CWA tradition has been jazz music. Across the conference we will also weave in several exciting jazz performances into the rich tapestry of discussions. The music portion of the conference will include several concerts of Latin American and traditional jazz performed by CU’s world-renowned College of Music faculty, graduates and students. I can’t wait to see/hear this exciting fusion.
The conference will kick off on the afternoon of April 12 at Macky Auditorium with a free 75th Anniversary Keynote address, hosted by Chancellor Phil DiStefano. Included will be a performance by the Latin American Jazz Band, led by Victor Mestas, a beloved local jazz pianist, performer and teacher. Also included is a 75th-anniversary video, including highlights from past conferences, followed by a keynote address by renowned environmental photographer and thinker James Balog. Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey has been the most extensive, ground-based, photographic study of glaciers ever conducted, and was the basis of the film ”Chasing Ice,” which won an Emmy and an Adventure Film award at our own Boulder International Film Festival.
On the evening of April 12, CWA will be hosting the 75th Anniversary Gala Celebration. Featuring a sit-down dinner, Latin American jazz and a celebration video, that evening’s event is not to be missed.
For the main conference from April 13 to 14, we can choose from over 25 panels that explore the climate’s impact on business, international affairs and U.S. policy, the human condition, science and technology. Panelists will also consider how journalism and the arts affect public perception of a changing climate and much more.
Former Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario will be the featured keynote speaker on Thursday, inspiring fresh ideas and new perspectives on the climate issues. This session will be preceded by Dr. John Gunther, composer, multi-instrumentalist and Head of CU’s Jazz Department and a sextet of university professors, CU graduates, and students performing well-loved jazz classics.
One highlight of the conference will include a two-part discussion on the Colorado River, moderated by Carlos Fernandez, State Director of the Colorado Nature Conservancy. These panels will examine how we reached our current condition and how the solution to the Colorado River crisis can serve as a global model for resiliency and sustainability.
In my role as chair of the CWA Advisory Board, I have had a unique seat in watching the passion volunteer community members and students have brought to the topics at hand and the hours they have invested in building a unique and compelling conference. As in the past, I will house panelists and will eagerly attend the sessions. I truly believe this is the greatest event the University of Colorado Boulder produces for the community as well as its own students and faculty.
We are all welcome to attend CWA panels at no charge, thanks to the support of CU, generous donors and hundreds of volunteers. All sessions are in person and will be live-streamed and recorded for those who choose to attend remotely. For more information on the speakers and the program, please visit: www.colorado.edu/cwa. I hope to see you at an inspirational 75th Anniversary Conference on World Affairs!
Jan Burton is a former member of the Boulder City Council. Email: Jan.firstname.lastname@example.org.