The Clinton Global Initiative University Conference Will Focus On The Most Important Issues Of Today

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation speaks as her father, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, stands by at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), on September 22, 2014 in New York City. The annual meeting, established in 2005 by President Clinton, convenes global leaders to discuss solutions to world problems. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Source: John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As talk of the 2016 presidential elections continues to heat up, the Clinton Global Initiative University program’s annual conference is slated to take place — but Hillary won’t be taking the stage as one of the conference’s hosts. Rather, daughter Chelsea Clinton and husband, Bill Clinton, will host the eighth annual conference, set to start on Friday at the University of Miami.

The meeting will bring more than 1,000 university students together to talk about some of today’s most important issues, propose ideas, and then possibly get the opportunity to turn those ideas into action. Students will discuss potential solutions in the Clinton Global Initiative’s five focus areas, which the CGI website defines as “education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.”

Throughout the three-day-long conference, students will hear from experts on topics ranging from the power of big data and the future of energy to gender inequality and urban slums. Attendees will have both the opportunity to hear from panels of experts on numerous topics and also engage with those experts in networking events and “office hours.” But the annual CGI University conference is about more than just discussing ideas — it’s also about taking action. 

On Sunday, the final day of the conference, students will jump into a day of action in conjunction with the Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI) in Liberty City, a neighborhood in Miami. According to the CGIU website, the team of students and volunteers will work on various improvement projects in a low-opportunity neighborhood. Projects will include “urban agriculture, mural painting, picnic installation, and the revitalization of sports facilities,” CGIU says.

Events such as this weekend’s conference are another mark in favor of the Clinton Global Initiative, which has come under fire lately for the source of its donations and funding. Just last week The Washington Post reported that seven foreign governments gave millions to CGI while Hillary was Secretary of State. For instance, the newspaper says Saudi Arabia gave between $10 million and $25 million to the foundation in 2008.

However, foreign governments are not allowed to give money to U.S. candidates in order to prevent outside influence. Now that Clinton is considering a run for presidency, the foundation’s donations are gaining the scrutiny of her opponents, namely the GOP. Clinton has recognized that, should she run for president, she would have to reassess the foundation’s donation sources.

But political hoopla aside, this weekend is one of the many examples of the fact that, at its core, CGI is an upstanding organization. Money ethics might be the talking point of the political world, but the real talking points should be the same things students will be discussing this weekend — education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

Images: Getty Images (2)

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