Seventeen student leaders from around the world arrived on Princeton’s campus last April to spend three days engaging in important dialogue with colleagues who might one day shape U.S.-China policy. Attendees of Princeton U.S. China Coalition’s first conference included a law student from India who was traveling outside of the country for the first time, a Ph.D. student born in China and is studying at Oxford, and more than a dozen other students passionate about Sino-American policy issues.
“The very first night was really special,” co-president Samuel Kunitz-Levy ’18 recalled, “We were at Forbes ready to welcome everyone, and real people who had traveled for our conference started to show up. We were hanging out with all of them outside, and I realized this was going to start to unfold really fast, that this was actually happening, and it was going to be awesome.”
Now in its second year, the U.S. China Global Governance Forum has a new name, different programming, but a similar mission. PUCC will welcome 33 students on April 5, 2017 from the United States, China, and other countries to listen, learn, and share their perspectives on the challenging issues facing the two countries over the next few decades.
In 12 short months, the conference has rapidly developed and expanded. More than 70 students applied, and 33 were accepted, representing almost double the number of attendees from the previous year. Ten of these students will be from universities in China, including Fudan University, Renmin University, and Shanghai International Studies University.
“Having these delegates coming in from China gives a diversity of thought to the lecture and precepts, and in the casual conversations taking place among the delegates,” Kunitz-Levy explained.
Co-president Eric Wang ’18 said, “Our hope is that the community we create through these 30 delegates is strong enough to serve as a launch board for new partnerships between Princeton U.S. China Coalition and other student organizations across Chinese campuses in the future.”
The forum this year is oriented around a two-pronged theme, “beginning with a thorough comparison of the existing political and legal frameworks in the U.S. and China, and culminating in an analysis of spaces in which the U.S. and China can collaborate on timely global policy issues,” according to PUCC promotional materials.
To accomplish this, attendees have been chosen with particular regard to the different perspectives they will be able to bring to the forum. The students have wide-ranging specialties, from economics to cybersecurity to environmentalism. Some are undergraduates, others are graduate students, Ph.D. students, and even young professionals.
“Last year, the PUCC executive board did an extraordinary job of designing such an impactful conference with limited funding, resources, and manpower,” Andrew Li ’19, the conference director, said. He noted, “This year, we are looking to build off that in adding a distinctly global perspective to the conference. We are elevating PUCC to new levels of professionalism and education.”
The now five-day conference will feature prominent speakers, including former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, New York Times Beijing bureau chief and journalism professor Edward Wong, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Wilson School professor Thomas Christensen.
“Baucus will bring a lot of fresh, on-the-ground insight from his recent career,” said Wang, “He’s the guy to speak to right now about China.”
PUCC has also expanded on its interactive content. “We have a number of exciting activities planned for this year that we didn’t do last year,” Li explained. Crisis simulations, a career panel, and precepts are on the 2017 schedule.
“I think it’s really valuable for them to network and hear from experienced individuals who have done China-related work,” said Natalie Nagorski ’20, Director of Career and Alumni Relations for PUCC. She is aiming to bring together experts from a variety of different sectors who have experience bridging U.S.-China relationships in professional fields to provide advice to the students.
Much of the additional content was made possible due to productive fundraising efforts this year that allowed PUCC to expand its connections and marketing. “This year we’ve received extremely generous levels of support from different departments at Princeton — everything from the Projects Board to History and the Practice of Diplomacy to the Journalism Department, among many others,” Li said.
With increased funding and prominent speakers, PUCC is opening up all of the lectures to the Princeton community this year, and spaces in the precepts and lunch with Ambassador Baucus to the forum’s sponsors.
“It’s really hard to put on a conference. Last year, I think went incredibly well for all the different challenges we were presented with,” said Kunitz-Levy, “This year we have more experience. More experience has led to more funding. And that has given us more opportunities in planning a conference that is more polished. I think delegates will come away with thinking ‘wow.’”
“I hope every year it will get better,” said Kunitz-Levy, “And I think it’s going to be better this year in a lot of different ways.”
“I envision in the long term having Chinese and American students hosting forums like Global Governance at their universities. This could be the start of a really important conversation,” Wang concluded.
For more information on the public lectures, visit puccuschina.org.