Yongusil 44: Engaging DPRK at Harvard University

By | September 17, 2014 | No Comments

Among the plethora of conferences dealing each year with the future of the Korean peninsula, there are few opportunities dedicated explicitly to the purpose of allowing graduate students and junior scholars to hold free and meaningful discussions with other academics and professionals. This is unfortunate, for, after all, it is the junior scholars and younger generations who will inevitably inherit the humanitarian, military, and political challenges that continue to reproduce as a result of the nearly seventy-year divide between North and South Korea.

For this reason, Harvard Medical School Students for Global Health and the Harvard Kennedy School DPRK Study Group joined together to present the 2014 Student Conference on the DPRK on September 13, 2014 at Harvard University. The conference was a result of a yearlong collaborative effort between these two groups and Engage Korea, a student-driven organization that had previously hosted a conference at Oxford University in May 2013, a conference at which Sino-NK had a notable presence.

The theme of the 2014 Student Conference on the DPRK was “How can the international community effectively engage the DPRK?” In order to address this question, panels on economic, humanitarian, education, and health-based engagement were presented by notable experts including Bradley Babson, chair of the DPRK Economic Forum at the U.S.-Korea Institute at John Hopkins SAIS; Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea Studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; Fredrick Carriere, PCI senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Affairs Center at Syracuse University; and Kee Park, chair of the Korean American Medical Association and World Korean Medical Organization Outreach Program. Discussion groups followed the panels, and they featured paper presentations by competitively selected students from universities in Australia, Canada, France, and the United States. (A PDF of the conference program is available for download here.)

Once again in 2014, there was a substantial overlap between Sino-NK and the Engage Korea-supported conference. Our director of research, Robert Winstanley-Chesters organized the discussion groups, and Matthew Bates, who has contributed several essays to our web journal, coordinated the panel on economic engagement. Meanwhile, our outreach coordinator, Sherri L. Ter Molen managed public relations, volunteered at the symposium, and produced the present post-conference report.

This student-led conference, not officially sponsored by Harvard University, was off-the-record (i.e., Chatham House rules). Nevertheless, we can relay that the panels and discussion groups seem to have provided the spaces for the open and relevant dialog the conference organizers had hoped. If you are interested in attending or hosting future Engage Korea-supported conferences, the organization can be contacted through its website. You can also follow @EngageKorea on Twitter and like Engage Korea on Facebook.

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