CLEARWATER — World diplomats, CIA officials, and military officials arrive at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg today to weigh in on foreign affairs and discuss solutions with students and community members. The Second Annual St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. today and continues at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday in the University Student Center Ballroom.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman will kick off the conference, which includes 15 panel discussions on international issues ranging from cyberterrorism and economic recovery to establishing new democracies.
The experts also will have debates, titled: “Religion and Politics are Like Oil and Water,” “Africa: A New Success Story or China’s Backyard?,” “Getting Out of the Mideast and Asserting U.S. Power in Asia,” “Sustaining Earth’s Resources is a Left-Wing Plot,” and “American Human Rights Policy Should Stress LGBT Issues.”
Attendees include a former CIA official, a former deputy commander of Central Command who helped lead the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former special assistant to the president on the National Security Council and former ambassadors to Lebanon, Bosnia, Namibia and Peru, as well as myriad academic experts.
Last year’s conference, the first held at the university, attracted several hundred people to each panel discussion and financial contributions to the university, USF St. Petersburg spokesman Tom Scherberger said in an email. That success encouraged Douglas McElhaney, former ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a member of the Advisory Board of the USF St. Petersburg Honors Program and a founder of St. Petersburg in the World, to expand the program even more.
Complimentary parking is available in the USFSP garage, 260 Fifth Ave. S.