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Interest High In This Year's St. Pete Conference On World Affairs

St. Petersburg Conference on the World
Scott Solomon, USF Tampa Assoc. Prof. of Government & International Affairs, speaks at 2016's St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs

This is the fifth year the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs is taking place at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Organizers say interest in the three-day event is close to an all-time high, thanks to how rapidly the world is changing.

"I think there's a lot of interest in trying to discern what direction is U.S. foreign policy going to take under the Trump administration," Associate Professor Thomas Smith, Director of the Honors Program at USF St. Petersburg, said.  "There seems to be extraordinary interest this year, people are really hungry for this kind of thoughtful information about the new directions the country will take."

The free event starts Wednesday morning at 8:30 at the USF St. Pete University Student Center.

Credit St. Petersburg Conference on the World
St. Petersburg Conference on the World
St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership President Peter Betzer (far right) talks about the city's connections to the world as Mayor Rick Kriseman (center) listens at last year's conference.

More than sixty speakers, including diplomats, military, media and academic experts will take part in thirty different panels.

According to Smith, the range of topics covered shows that international relations are about more than just diplomacy or war.

"We have panels this year on cyber meddling, on international education, we have a panel on NAFTA and other trade agreements, we've got panels on Brexit, music and art," Smith said.

He adds that the huge variety of speakers means there should be a plethora of opinions for attendees to digest. 

"We've deliberately tried to put together panels that represent a range of perspectives, because we really want to see this as a contest of ideas in which we can focus on a number of perspectives and not just a single one," Smith said.

While the conference is free, seating is available on a first come, first serve basis. Attendees are encouraged to sign up here for more information.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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