President, faculty headed to Asia for ‘Leading Matters’ tour

John Hennessy

John Hennessy

With President John Hennessy at the helm, Stanford will make the first overseas stops this month on its ambitious "Leading Matters" tour, presenting programs to alumni in Hong Kong on April 19 and in Tokyo on April 22.

In between those two stops, Hennessy will join a faculty delegation—including the deans of three schools—visiting Peking University, one of China's leading universities and home to Stanford-in-Beijing, a Bing Overseas Studies program for undergraduate students.

The "Leading Matters" tour, which began in January in Seattle and continued last month in San Diego, is designed to showcase how Stanford is addressing some of the world's biggest challenges. The Stanford Challenge and the Stanford Alumni Association are sponsoring the three-year tour, which will hold events in 17 cities, including Chicago, London and Mexico City.

In Hong Kong, Hennessy will speak at the plenary session that opens the program in the mid-afternoon and will give the keynote address at dinner. Eight faculty members will take part in the program, which features two faculty panels.

The panels are "The Stanford Way: Turning the Problems of the 21st Century into Entrepreneurial Opportunities" and "Troubled Waters," in which faculty will discuss the challenges facing a world in which 1.1 billion people lack access to safe and plentiful water supplies, water-borne diseases are a major cause of illness and death, and diversions of water for human uses have resulted in sometimes devastating changes to freshwater systems.

The program also will feature new videos shot with state-of-the-art digital video cameras, starring students and faculty working on research projects at home and abroad.

In Tokyo, Hennessy will give the keynote address, and two faculty members—Pamela Matson, dean of the School of Earth Sciences, and Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson, co-director of the Woods Institute for the Environment—will present "A Transition to Sustainability? Development and Environment in a Changing World." The evening event will end with a reception.

In Beijing, Hennessy will give an address April 21 at Peking University, followed by a question-and-answer session. The main purpose of the delegation, which has 20 faculty members including Hennessy, is to expand and deepen Stanford's existing relationship with the university, especially in research and faculty collaboration.

The delegation includes the deans of the school of Earth Sciences, Engineering, and Humanities and Sciences. Coit Blacker, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, will attend, along with several senior fellows. So will Jean Oi, the director of Stanford's China Program, which was launched in 2007 and is composed of scholars who do their research in the villages, company boardrooms and government institutions of China.

The China trip is sponsored by the International Initiative, which was launched in 2005 to promote research and educational collaborations across the campus on three large and interconnected themes: pursuing international security; improving governance locally, nationally and internationally; and advancing human well-being.