World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

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In the Hot Seat Video Conference
From Sudan to Pittsburgh: A Lost Boy Remembers

April 27, 2015

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What lasting impact does armed conflict have on children? What lessons can be learned from the Sudanese civil war? What challenges does the refugee community in the United States face?

Paul Deng Kur fled his home in Sudan nearly 30 years ago as one of thousands of Lost Boys. After settling in the United States, he faced the struggles of an immigrant in a new land, while still grappling with questions about his harrowing experiences. Although the Second Sudanese Civil War ended in 2005, thousands of former Lost Boys are still separated from their families and face the horrific effects of growing up in a warzone.

For this event, students at Trinity High School will work with Mr. Kur to tell his story through a talk-show style discussion. Up to five interactive video conference sites can participate and submit questions ahead of the program.

Paul Deng Kur fled Sudan in 1987 when his village was destroyed in the second phase of a civil war that would last decades. He became one of nearly 20,000 children seeking refuge from the violence, collectively known as “the Lost Boys.” War was a reality of Mr. Kur’s childhood. He was conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and torn away from his family at the age of eight. After escaping several times from refugee camps in an effort to avenge his family, Mr. Kur became part of the UN’s Lost Boys movement and was relocated to Philadelphia in 2001. He was then able to complete his high school diploma, earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Clarion University, and is currently working on his Masters in Leadership from Duquesne University. Mr. Kur has since become an advocate for refugees and children affected by conflict or forced into child marriage. He recently published Out of the Impossible, a memoir that reflects upon his experiences and their lasting impact on his life today.

A limited number of schools can register to participate via video conference. Video conference equipment is required.

Please call Emily Markham at 412-281-7027 or e-mail

This event is held in partnership with
Trinity Area School District

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School Outreach

Paul Deng Kur
Former Lost Boy of Sudan and author of Out of the Impossible

Public Policy Discussion and Luncheon
Smart Growth: The Beginning of a New Era?

April 17, 2015

Online registration for this event is closed. For information about this event, please call Melanie Gulasy at 412-281-7970.

With estimates that the world’s population will reach between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by 2050, we face a myriad of economic, social, political, and environmental challenges at the local, regional, national, and international levels. The emergence of a truly global middle class — and with it, a voracious appetite for material consumption — is contributing to these challenges as are growing environmental concerns and increasingly scarce resources (such as food, water, and energy). The recognition of the limitations of traditional growth strategies has spurred new thinking about the way in which modern societies deal with scarcity. New energy technologies and financial innovation have opened exciting new industrial and economic possibilities. Smart sustainable initiatives lead to job creation, innovation, and local sustainable entrepreneurship.

Join us for an engaging conversation with one of Europe’s environmental thought leaders, and learn how highly efficient technologies and an intelligent cycle of materials can stimulate a shift in energy production, transportation, and urban development. Ralf Fuecks will offer a strategic vision at the local, national, and international levels concerning:

  • The environmental cost of globalization,
  • The market for renewable energies, and
  • A blueprint for an eco-friendly city.

Ralf Fuecks has been a member of the executive board of the Heinrich Böll Foundation since 1996. The primary focus of his work is sustainable development and a green economy, the future of European integration, and  foreign policy. Within the Foundation, he is responsible for domestic political education, Europe and North America, as well as German-Israeli relations.

Ralf Fuecks joined the Green Party in 1982. In 1985, he was elected to the Bremen State Parliament. He served as Co-President for the national Green Party in 1989/90. He returned to regional politics in Bremen in 1991, serving as Deputy Mayor and as Senator for Urban Development and Environmental Protection.

As a member of the Green Party’s Program Commission, he co-authored the new party program, which was adopted in 2002. He is a regular contributor to numerous newspapers and political periodicals and co-author of several books.


World Affairs Council, Green Building Alliance, and American Council on Germany Members: $25 | Non-members: $45

Please advise in advance of any dietary restrictions. Registration is required. No-shows and cancellations after April 13, 2015 will be charged.

Online registration for this event is closed. For information about this event, please call Melanie Gulasy at 412-281-7970.

This event is supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation

With thanks to Reed Smith for hosting this event.  


Community Series

Ralf Fuecks
President of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and
Author of Smart Growth: A New Approach to the Environment, the Economy, and Green Innovation

Does Europe Still Matter? The Transatlantic Partnership in the ¯Pacific Century¯
Public Policy Discussion and Luncheon
Does Europe Still Matter? The Transatlantic Partnership in the “Pacific Century”

April 14, 2015

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The United States and Europe share common values and concerns that have served as the foundation for a trans-atlantic partnership that has stood the test of time. The U.S. and the European Union have the largest trade and investment relationship in the world and a military alliance without parallel in NATO. Time and again, the U.S. and Europe have successfully partnered to tackle some of the most pressing global issues.

With America’s “pivot” to Asia, policy-makers in Europe are concerned about the future of the transatlantic relationship. This shift comes at a time when Europe is struggling to deal with a number of internal challenges, including political instability, economic woes, homegrown terrorism, and growing skepticism about the European Union. The crisis in Ukraine has also raised concerns about European security and the continent’s ability to defend itself.

Join the Council for a discussion with Belgium’s Ambassador to the U.S. on the current state of the transatlantic relationship.

H.E. Johan Verbeke has been the Belgian Ambassador to the U.S. since January 2014, his latest appointment in a distinguished foreign service career that began in 1981. From 2010 to 2013, he served as Belgium’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, during which time he received the “Best Ambassador or the Year, 2011,” DIPLOMAT award in recognition of his significant impact on the diplomatic community in London.

From 2004 to 2009, Ambassador Verbeke served at the United Nations, spending four years as Belgium’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, including two years on the Security Council.  He later served as Special Coordinator of the UN Secretary General in Lebanon and as Special Representative in Georgia, where he was Head of the UN Observer Mission. From 1998 to 2004, Ambassador Verbeke was stationed in Brussels, where he rose through the ranks, serving initially as Deputy Director General for Political Affairs and later as Director General for European Affairs; Chef de Cabinet to the Minister of European Affairs; and finally as Chef de Cabinet to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Verbeke’s first exposure to the diplomatic life in Washington, D.C. came in 1994 when he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Belgium, a position he held until 1998. Prior to arriving in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Verbeke was the “Antici” in the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the European Union (1992-1994) and acted as the Chief Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990-1992). The Ambassador began his diplomatic career with postings to Beirut, Amman, Bujumbura, and Santiago de Chile.

World Affairs Council Members: $50 | Non-members: $75 | Table of eight (8): $400

Please advise in advance of any dietary restrictions.Registration is required. No-shows and cancellations after April 9, 2015 will be charged.

Please email or call 412-281-7970.

Register Now!

Community Series

H.E. Johan Verbeke
Ambassador of Belgium to the United States

Anya_ Schiffrin .gif
Salon Reading

March 30, 2015

Online registration for this event is closed. For information about this event, please call Melanie Gulasy at 412-281-7970.

Crusading journalists from Sinclair Lewis to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have played critical roles in American politics for years: checking abuses of power, revealing corporate misdeeds, and exposing government corruption. Muckraking journalism is part and parcel of American democracy. But, what do people really know about the role that muckraking has played around the world?

Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Journalism from Around the World, a groundbreaking new book edited by noted author and journalist Anya Schiffrin, presents the most important examples of world-changing journalism, spanning one hundred years and every continent. Carefully curated by prominent international journalists and scholars working in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East, Global Muckraking is a sweeping introduction to international journalism that has galvanized the world’s attention. In an era when human rights are in the spotlight and the fate of newspapers hangs in the balance, the book is both a riveting read and a comprehensive argument for why the world still needs long-form investigative reporting.

Join City of Asylum Pittsburgh and the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh for fascinating insights into the important role investigative journalists have played around the world and throughout history — and their relevance today.

Anya Schiffrin directs the international media, advocacy, and communications program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Among other topics, she writes about journalism and development as well as the media in Africa and the extractive sector.

Ms. Schiffrin spent 10 years working as a journalist in Europe and Asia, writing for a number of different newspapers and magazines. She was bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires in Amsterdam and Hanoi and wrote regularly for the Wall Street Journal. She was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1999-2000. Ms. Schiffrin has written and edited materials aimed at helping reporters in developing countries write about economics, and she has lectured and run workshops in Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, South Africa, Vietnam among other countries. Her most recent book is Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Reporting from Around the World.

There is no charge for this event. Seats are limited and registrations is required by March 25, 2015.

Online registration for this event is closed. For information about this event, please call Melanie Gulasy at 412-281-7970.

In partnership with

Community Series

Anya Schiffrin
Director of the International Media, Advocacy, and Communications
Specialization at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and
Author of Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Journalism from around the World

Fighting For Our Future:  Empowering Women around the World
International Women's Day: Special Screening of "Sweet Dreams" and Panel Discussion
Fighting for our Future: Empowering Women around the World

March 26, 2015

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In 1994, Rwanda suffered a brutal genocide that left over a million dead and an entire country scarred by a tragedy that causes pain to this day. The documentary Sweet Dreams follows Rwanda’s only all-female drumming group as they use ice cream to break down barriers left by the genocide and create a new future for themselves. With the help of two American entrepreneurs, the group opens “Sweet Dreams” -- the country’s first ice cream shop. Along the way, the women are empowered economically, while facing the challenges and opportunities associated with starting a business from the ground up.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh have joined together, for the fifth year in a row, to celebrate women’s economic empowerment both locally and globally.

Join us on March 26 for a special screening of Sweet Dreams and a discussion that will center on this important topic. What role do women play in areas of conflict? How can our community do more to empower women?

Following the screening, a panel of local experts and community members will discuss the film, genocide, and the importance of women’s empowerment, drawing from both personal and professional experiences. Audience members will have the opportunity to hear from each panelist and ask questions during a moderated discussion.

There is no charge for this event, but seats are limited and registration is required. Refreshments are included.

Please email or call 412-281-7970.

With special thanks to the Eden Hall Foundation

In appreciation to our partner:


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Community Series

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