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Stage set for weekend of collaboration at Clinton Global Initiative University

CGI U 2017 formally kicks off tonight with the opening plenary, featuring former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, President Aoun, and others. Photo credit: Paul Morse / Clinton Global Initiative

More than a thousand students, thought leaders, and dignitaries from around the globe will convene at Northeastern this weekend for the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University. A program packed full of seminars, workshops, and panel discussions will serve as the catalyst for innovative social action to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.

CGI U 2017 formally kicks off Friday night with the opening plenary, featuring former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton, and Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, among others.

CGI U 2017 will bring together more than 1,200 students representing 250 universities, all 50 states, and 80 countries, cultivating a network of young leaders who are developing innovative solutions to global problems.

Attendees of the Clinton Global Institute University this weekend represent 80 different countries and 250 universities. Graphic by YoungHee Jang/Northeastern University

Among those students are 150 from Northeastern, several of whom shared their excitement about the upcoming summit.

Friday’s opening plenary will set the stage for a weekend of collaboration. Currently, increasing globalization and interdependence are transforming the world and uniting communities, while growing political polarity is driving people further apart. Navigating that push and pull will be essential for students looking to make an impact on the world.

President Clinton will moderate a panel of speakers that includes his daughter, Chelsea; Aoun; Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad; musician, actor, and author Daryl Davis; and Thomas Edwards, a high school student from Texas who helped rescue neighbors during Hurricane Harvey.

The panel is titled, “What Unites Us: Building Community in a Divided World.” Panelists will specifically focus on how students forging social action can achieve it by three means:

  • Creating a culture of dialogue and reconciliation, and encouraging effective and even difficult discussions that are rooted in empathy and honesty
  • Harnessing education and entrepreneurship as opportunities to transcend religious, racial, ideological, or geographic barriers
  • And expanding offline social networks and building systems for innovative community engagement, inclusivity, and civic participation

Since its inaugural year in 2008, students at CGI U have represented 145 countries around the globe. Graphic by YoungHee Jang/Northeastern University

The rest of the weekend’s events will follow the same theme of community-building and change-making—particularly in the areas of education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. These are the five areas in which students participating in CGI U identified pressing global challenges and developed “commitments to action.”

The weekend culminates in a Day of Action on Sunday during which students will do community service projects at four locations throughout Boston—St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, Inner City Sanctuary for the Arts, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and the Orchard Gardens housing complex.

Projects at the sites will include planting and gardening, site cleanup, painting, building shelves, installing murals, improving libraries, and more.