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St. Pete Conference Takes On World Affairs

St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs

Some of the major international issues of the day - Cuba, Russia, Syria, terrorism and immigration - will be among the topics of discussion at a Saint Petersburg conference that's drawing experts from around the world to the Tampa Bay area.

The Saint Petersburg Conference on World Affairs takes place Thursday, February 26, through Saturday, February 28 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg University Student Center.

Almost forty panelists, including 1986 Nobel Prize winner for Literature and expert on Nigerian democracy Wole Soyinka, along with diplomats, academics and military experts will share ideas and information during 16 free panel sessions.

Read an op-ed from Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka on the Boko Haram from the Sunday, Feb. 22 Tampa Bay Times

"I think it's extreemly important that we have these kinds of discussions so that at least people in this area are well informed about the kind of things that are happening in the world and what are stake is in the world," former U.S. ambassador and conference creator Douglas McElhaney said.

"I think sometimes that politically, perhaps, inside the Beltway in Washington (D.C.) that people do things where Americans are not fully informed and can't make an informed decision," McElhaney added. "And in our sort of democracy that's extremely important and it gets us into some difficult situations sometime."

Credit St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs
St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs

The conference begins at 2 p.m. Thursday with opening comments from USFSP Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and McElhaney. That will be followed by hour-long seminars focusing on Syria, terrorism and women's rights.

There will be ten more seminars on Friday, including a number running concurrently. Friday's session will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Three final sessions will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m.

You can see a schedule of sessions here, and read biographies of the speakers here.

The Saint Petersburg Conference on World Affairs is free to the public, but reservations are encouraged.

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