The Young Initiative invites foreign policy experts and guest speakers to campus to engage in discussions on international relations and the global political economy with students and faculty.

Upcoming Events

United Nations Week

With the William and Elizabeth Kahane United Nations Program, the Young Initiative supports the annual United Nations Week at Occidental College. We are passionate in maintaining students involvement and engagement in sustainable development. Our students choose topics that link Global Political Economy, Social Justice, and Sustainable Development.

UN Week 2020: Climate Change & Economic/Environmental Justice

Keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Were Omamo, Representative and Country Director for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Ethiopia, provided perspective and insights about the UN's work on Climate Change and Environmental Justice.

UN Week 2019: Gender, Sexuality and Collective Action

The keynote speaker, Ambassador Melanne Verveer spoke to students about gender in the Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Week 2018: The Power of Place

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new partnership with Oxy to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Week 2017: Through Refugees Eyes

Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International gave a talk on “The Global Refugee and Migration Crisis Under Trump: Where is the US? Where is Europe? What Can We Do About It?”

UN Week 2016: The UN and the US after Obama

Historian and foreign policy expert, Stephen Schlesinger reflected back on the history of the UN and predicted its future trajectory. Honorary Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Minister of Canada gave a talk titled: "Resetting the Narrative: Peace, Security, and the UN's Responsibility to Protect."

Young Events

Young speakers give students and faculty an opportunity to expand their understanding of global issues. The Young Initiative sponsors several speakers each academic year highlighting particular aspects of global affairs and the global political economy.  The Young Speakers program is devoted to highlighting the work and success of eminent international affairs experts and Oxy alumni in public service and academia.


Dr. Brake talking with students.
Cybersecurity, Technology and Statecraft: A Conversation with Benjamin Brake

On Thursday, April 13th, 2024, the Young Initiative at Occidental College hosted a talk by Dr. Benjamin Brake, the Director of the Office of Cyber Affairs and Emerging Technology at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. 

Dr. Hesham Sallam giving a talk to students at Occidental College.
Authoritarianism and Struggles for Change in the Arab World A Conversation with Hesham Sallam

On Monday, April 8th, the Young Initiative at Occidental College hosted a talk by Dr. Hesham Sallam from the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University. 

Director Omar Shakir from the Human Rights Watch talking to students
Reporting on Rights Violations: Israel/Palestine and Beyond

On Wednesday, March 6th, the Young Initiative at Occidental College hosted a talk by Director Omar Shakir from the Human Rights Watch. His talk focused on reporting human rights violations in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. 

Heba Gowayed at Occidental College
“The Cost of Borders” with Professor Heba Gowayed

On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, students gathered in the Global Forum to engage with Associate Professor Heba Gowayed from CUNY Hunter College as she discussed the pecuniary and human costs of borders. Her talk echoed the content of her forthcoming book, “The Cost of Borders.”

Professor Jaimie Bleck at Occidental College
Navigating Mali's Challenges: Voices of the Urban Youth

On Monday, October 16, 2023, the Young Initiative at Occidental College hosted a thought-provoking talk by Professor Jaimie Bleck from the University of Notre Dame, centering on Mali's current crossroads.

Ovidio Mauricio at Occidental Colege
Human Rights Abuses & Political Persecution in El Salvador

On October 5th, 2023, the director of the human rights organization "Tutela Legal Dra. Maria Julia Hernandez", Ovidio Mauricio, addressed students at Occidental College. He shed light on the dire state of human-rights abuses and political repression in El Salvador. Founded in 1982, Tutela Legal became an advocate for victims of human rights atrocities, amassing over 72,000 testimonies about the...

Kal Raustiala presenting in Choi Auditorium
Ralph Bunche and the Rise of UN Peacekeeping

On Friday, April 12, Dr. Kal Raustiala visited Occidental College for a conversation about the Rise of UN Peacekeeping, with special focus on the American political scientist and diplomat: Ralph Bunche.

Dr. Stuart Soroka
From Like to Votes: How Social Media is Changing Democracy

On Wednesday, April 5th, the Young Initiative piloted its first independently organized event, "From Like to Votes: How Social Media is Changing Democracy," welcoming Dr. Stuart Soroka for a student-led Q&A. Dr. Soroka earned his doctorate in Philosophy and Political Science at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and is a professor in the Department of Communication and Political Science at...

Russian Information Warfare Banner Image
Russian Information Warfare

On Thursday 30 March, the Young Initiative hosted Dr. Bilyana Lilly, a cybersecurity expert and adjunct researcher at the RAND Corporation, who came to Occidental to talk about tools, tactics and methods the Russian government uses in its attempts to promote inaccurate and false information in online public forums.

Global Change Local Stage Main Photo
Global Change on a Local Stage

On March 2, 2023, Professor Anthony Chase co-hosted with Sofia Gruskin (Director, Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, University of Southern California) and Gaea Morales (USC Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science and International Relations,  and Oxy ‘18) Global Change on a Local Stage: Lessons Learned and Paths Forward for City-Academic Partnerships at Occidental College. The workshop...

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