On a late-winter day in 1946, more than 40,000 people crowded into the Westminster College gymnasium, waiting to hear Britain’s illustrious prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill, give his famous speech on the U.S.-U.K. “special relationship.”
Almost 60 years later, Dickinson’s energetic young leaders are learning how to keep this historic partnership strong.
The relationship between the United States and United Kingdom is only one focus of Dickinson’s Leadership in Conflict Initiative (LCI), a new, innovative program that builds skills in leadership and conflict resolution in a global context.
The initiative, directed by retired Army Col. Jeffrey McCausland, former dean of the U.S. Army War College, is an expansion of the Omar Bradley Chair in Strategic Leadership, a teaching appointment jointly supported by Dickinson and the U.S. Army War College. Past chair holders are Gen. Walter Ulmer; Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Atkinson. Retired Lt. Gen. Don Holder begins his term as chair holder this month.
“Our motto is, ‘Leadership is character in action,’ ” McCausland says. “I am convinced that nothing may be more useful and critical [to our world] than the development of sound leaders. So our emphasis lies on how to develop these leaders.”
The initiative has three core objectives, McCausland explains: providing leadership-development opportunities for Dickinson students, assisting existing leaders and taking an active role in public diplomacy and international resolution, “with the assumption that one of the primary purposes of leaders is to resolve conflict.”
The U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship, LCI’s first international venture, satisfied all three of the program’s objectives. The two-part conference, co-hosted by Dickinson and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, was funded by the Strategic Studies Institute of the War College and featured presentations by leading academics, policy-makers and defense officials from both countries. The event was held at Dickinson last November and at the RUSI in April.
Four young Dickinsonians—Alex Stout ’07, Helena Berrizbeitia ’05, Dan Emery ’05 and Sara Lybeck ’05—were invited to attend the April meeting in London. The students, who had long-standing interests in international relations and helped to organize the conference, heard various experts, including the associate editor of Britain’s Financial Times, present original papers on foreign policy, economics, defense policy and political relations. Dickinson faculty, including Douglas Stuart, holder of the J. William Stuart and Helen D. Stuart Chair in International Studies, Business and Management and professor of political science and international relations, participated in panel discussions at the conference meetings.
“The people in London liked [the conference] so much that we have been invited to go back,” McCausland says. Because of the initiative’s success, on Jan. 10, experts from both sides of the Atlantic, including Dickinson faculty and administrators, will meet again in London. They will present research from their revised papers, now compiled into a book, The Future of the Special Relationship in the 21st Century.
As a global effort, the LCI does not limit its focus to the U.S.-U.K. relationship. Later this year, Dickinson will co-host another two-part conference, The Other Special Relationship: The U.S. and Australia at the Start of the 21st Century. The event, which will feature discussions on how to maintain and improve U.S.-Australia relations, will be held at Dickinson in March and at the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia in June.
“We just did a conference on U.S. policy with a European ally, so it’s appropriate to do the same now with a major Asian ally,” McCausland explains. “Australia seemed like the perfect second opportunity.”
Major conferences aren’t the initiative’s only programs. The LCI regularly hosts international leaders who visit Dickinson and the U.S. Army War College to speak on global issues, attend classes and meet with students and faculty. Speakers have included a senior retired Indian general and Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Jehangir Karamat, who discussed the South Asia-Pakistan conflict in an age of terrorism.
The LCI even offers opportunities for students to build their leadership skills firsthand. Each year, the initiative sends students to leadership-development workshops at service academies across the nation, including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy.
“We pick students [to attend these workshops] who demonstrate a strong interest in leadership,” says McCausland. “Our desire is to select the best possible representation for Dickinson.”
Stout, who helped out in London, already was a well-seasoned local leader. But this president of the Dickinson College Democrats, vice president of the Cumberland County Democrats, member of Student Senate, Engage the World fellow, and John Dickinson and Charles A. Dana scholar longed to be internationally engaged. So, with his plate already full—but not full enough—he seized the opportunity to participate in The U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship.
“[At the November ’04 conference] I met so many individuals who created the policies that I had read about in classes,” Stout remembers. “The conference in Britain was the same, with the presentation of papers that will really influence our transatlantic relationship. After visiting Britain in April, I felt an even deeper sense of commitment to the British people. Although it’s hard to personify countries, I believe strongly that the United Kingdom is our nation’s best friend in the world today and that we need to support each other in all that we do.”•