State Department Innovator, Internet Activist Jared Cohen to Speak at Boe Forum Nov. 8

The Center for Western Studies at Augustana College today announced that Internet activist Jared Cohen, former advisor to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, author, member of the Council on Foreign Relations and director of Google Ideas, will speak at the 2012 Boe Forum on Public Affairs.

His address, “The Relationship Between United States Foreign Policy and the Technological Revolution,” will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Elmen Center, located at 2505 S. Grange Ave. on the Augustana campus.

The event is free and open to the public; however, tickets are required. Tickets will be available at beginning at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

“Jared Cohen is among a small group of individuals on earth today who truly understand how we can use technology to champion democracy, engage in thoughtful discourse, create solutions and drive peace. We are honored and proud to welcome him to campus,” said Dr. Harry Thompson, executive director of the Center for Western Studies.

2012 Boe Forum on Public Affairs
Free and open to the public; tickets are required.

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“His address here, at Augustana, is especially meaningful following the events of 2011, when more than 80 student members of The Augustana Band witnessed the technology-fueled revolution in Egypt firsthand – an historic event that shattered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship – and one that many say would not have been possible without cellular technology and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter."

“As our students seek to find ways to make tomorrow’s world even better than today’s, the opportunity to visit with Mr. Cohen – a young person who has been called one of six ‘Top American Leaders,’ will no-doubt inspire and empower them to find and develop ways to use technology to drive the change we need.”

Before His Time

Two years before the Arab Spring, when millions took to Twitter as a way to communicate and organize plans for major political and social revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and other countries, Cohen, then just 27, had already identified the communication medium as a vital way to drive change and influence U.S. foreign policy.

In 2009, as post-election protests were boiling over in Tehran. Cohen led the charge from the State Department urging routinely scheduled maintenance of to be postponed during the Iranian election protests. The site, Cohen told his friend Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter, was the only outlet Iranians had to voice what was truly happening in their country.

His support of the medium and his outreach to Dorsey were included on CNN’s Top 10 Internet Moments of the Decade, along with the launch of Facebook and the introduction of the iPhone.

Since 2009, Cohen has led dozens of tech CEOs from Silicon Valley into the most turbulent parts of the world in an effort to connect the industry and foreign policy.

In 2010, he left the State Department to become the head of Google Ideas, a think/do tank that convenes unorthodox stakeholders, commissions research, and seeds initiatives to explore the role that technology can play in tackling some of the toughest human challenges.

Cohen has conducted research in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and throughout Africa. As part of his research, he has interviewed members of Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Taliban. He is the author of “Children of Jihad” and “One Hundred Days of Silence” and is currently co-authoring a book about the future of the world with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, which will be published by Knopf in 2013. He is also co-author (with Eric Schmidt) of “The Digital Disruption: Connectivity and the Diffusion of Power,” which appeared in Foreign Affairs just a few months before the Arab Spring. Among his additional publications are, “Diverting the Radicalization Track (Policy Review),” “Iran’s De Facto Opposition: Youth in Post-revolutionary Iran (SAIS Review),” and “Passive Revolution: Is Political Resistance Dead or Alive in Iran” (Hoover Digest).

In 2011, Vanity Fair named Cohen a member of the “Next Establishment,” The Washington Post and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government named him one of six “Top American Leaders,” and Foreign Policy listed him as one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers.” He was named by Christian Science Monitor as one of the “Top 30 Under 30;” named by Business Insider as one of the “20 Brazen Young Professionals to Watch;” selected by the Huffington Post as one of “100 Game Changers;” and chosen by Devex as one of the “40 Under 40.” He also won the 2010 and 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Disruptive Innovation Awards for his intervention in Iran’s Green Revolution and most influential article of the year, respectively. He has been awarded the Secretary of State’s Meritorious Honor Award twice, once by Condoleezza Rice and once by Hillary Clinton.

Cohen currently serves as a member of the National Counterterrorism Center’s (NCTC) Director’s Advisory Board. He received his B.A. from Stanford University and his M.Phil. in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

At 30 years old, he will be the Boe Forum’s youngest speaker in its 17-year history.

About the Boe Forum

Through the Boe Forum on Public Affairs, the Center for Western Studies has hosted many of the world’s most influential leaders, including: Gen. Colin Powell (1995), President George H. W. Bush (1995), President of the former Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev (1996), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1999), Jordan's Queen Noor (2001), Vice President Al Gore (2007), Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox (2007), President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf (2009), former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (2010), and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson (2011).