Speaker Spectrum

November 30, 2009

Two high-profile speakers came to campus this fall, and each gave an impassioned plea for a favored cause. But that is where the similarity ends.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof told an audience of 800 students and faculty and staff members in Page Auditorium that the most pressing issue of the current era is fighting poverty, and that the best way to do that is by improving the status of women in the developing world.

"The greatest unexplored resource in developing countries isn't gold, it isn't oil, it's the female half of the workforce," Kristof said.

The talk was sponsored by the Baldwin Scholars, which promotes women's leadership on campus, and WISER, a student group that collaborates with a women's organization in Muhuru Bay, Kenya, to support women's education there.

A week later, John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush and now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, spoke about what he feels is an urgent need: immediate and forceful intervention in Iran.

Calling President Obama the "first post-American President," meaning that he puts the interests of other countries before those of his own, Bolton criticized what he termed the "naïveté" of the young administration. "Iran's not going to be chitchatted out of its nuclear weapons program," he said.

Bolton's speech, at Duke Law School, was likewise well attended, with the audience forced into overflow seating.

He was invited to campus by Duke's chapter of the Federalist Society, and the event was cosponsored by the Duke University Program in American Grand Strategy and Duke's International Law Society.