Introducing: Jonas Heidenreich (Spring 2016 intern)

Bio Pic 2Jonas Heidenreich is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina who left his urban environment to attend school at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. While there, he received a degree in Political Science with a concentration in International and Comparative Politics. Jonas graduated from Appalachian State in December of 2015.

Committed to serve in the Peace Corps, Cambodia beginning this July, Jonas seeks to spend the time before departure furthering his interests in international affairs by serving as Programming Intern at the WACC.

He brings with him experience that spans across different areas of interest including journalism and environmental activism. In Boone, he worked for the grassroots environmental organization Appalachian Voices as a Research Assistant and Outreach Intern for the organization’s Energy Efficiency Campaign, where he helped garner community support for the implementation of energy efficiency financing programs by electric cooperatives serving the High Country region.

Jonas is passionate about international affairs, specifically in the areas of global health, environmental policy, and regional conflict. He hopes to explore further the potential effects the environment will have on mass migration, new regional conflicts, and overall trends in global health.

In his free time Jonas can be found spending time outside enjoying a variety of activities from fly-fishing to rock climbing and trail running. He loves to read Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis, doesn’t mind writing a thing or two, and never passes up the opportunity to watch a good romantic comedy.

Summary: Driving Change: Creating a new energy future (Jan. 21st, 2016)

lynngoodLast Thursday, the World Affairs Council of Charlotte (WACC)  hosted Duke Energy President & CEO Lynn Good in our WACC CEO Speakers Series. Good is a remarkable woman who has risen through the ranks of Duke Energy since joining the company in 2006. She now serves as the President, CEO, and Chairman, an unlikely combination of responsibilities which displays the incredible trust that the company has in her competency and leadership. She spoke on Thursday to a diverse group of WACC attendees, who ranged from high-powered business executives to middle school students from Charlotte Preparatory School.

In her speech, Good highlighted the importance of energy to infrastructure on both the global and local stages. Electricity, she argued, is what makes the world small, and as we continue to globalize and grow, we will have increased needs for energy consumption. However, well over a billion people have no access to electricity and many more lack reliable service, so there is still much work to be done on a global scale. This progress, she believes, will be have to be undertaken “country by country, decade by decade” due to the incredible complexity of growing economies and booming populations. She pointed to India, Africa, and China as the focal points for the next global wave of industrialization and infrastructure-building. China, as she pointed out to the audience, has almost doubled its energy production in the last decade and is projected to continue at this breakneck pace for the foreseeable future.

Renewable energy was also a major topic of Good’s speech, as she acknowledged the importance of the recent Paris COP21 Climate Change Conference, but she also warned that environmental responsibility “goes far beyond” Paris. Just as she believes the expansion of global energy infrastructure must be undertaken country by country, so too must the move towards renewable and environmentally-friendly means of energy production. In the United States specifically–due to the lack of a national energy policy–this progress must happen on an even smaller level, state by state, and that means much of the responsibility for North Carolina lies with Duke Energy itself. As Good, described it, they are responsible for running the “ground game” and determining what our country’s vision for the future of energy production is.

Twenty-seven percent of Duke’s energy generation in North Carolina is carbon-free, and, as Good told us, the company has reduced carbon emissions by 22% since 2005. Solar, wind. nuclear, and natural gas are all options the company is pursuing to reduce dependence on coal plants. Duke has invested over five billion dollars in researching and developing these forms of renewable energy, with one billion invested in North Carolina alone. Perhaps because of this investment, North Carolina has the 4th-largest solar production of any state, as Good proudly informed the attendees.

However, there are many inherent difficulties that are involved with a shift towards renewable energy. Duke Energy, as Good remarked, has been the main economic driver in the greater Charlotte area since it was founded over 100 years ago to power textile mills on the Catawba river. Duke Energy’s main concern is providing reliable, affordable service to its customers, and this requires them to maintain a diverse portfolio of energy sources. Solar power, for example, cannot be relied upon to deliver energy during the peak time of energy production, which, according to Good, is 7:15 in the morning.

The main thrust of Good’s speech was that Duke Energy must seek a balance of reliability, affordability, and environmental consciousness in their future maintenance and expansion of their utility services. As the largest provider of energy utilities in the US, much of our country’s energy policies will be affected by Duke Energy. However, Good is a leader who projects an air of assured confidence and competence. She seems eager to tackle to energy challenges of the upcoming decades, and if her speech on Thursday was any indication, she is certainly the right person for the job.

Summarized by Kevin John Cammarn, senior at Middlebury College (Spring 2016 WACC intern)

Welcome: Introduction – Halley Theorin (Spring 2016 Intern)

blog picSitting at the library a few mornings ago, I was checking my email for the day. To my astonishment, what did I find in my inbox? An email from the World Affairs Council of Charlotte! Stricken with anticipation, I opened it immediately. I read the first line, “Congratulations! We would like to offer you an intern position with us for the Spring semester!”. I shrieked with joy only to realize I was still in the library, so I had to compose myself quickly. Regardless, I eagerly replied to them saying I would gladly accept. The minute I pressed “Send” I knew working with the WACC would not only open my career options for the future, but also my mind about the world.

As a graduating senior dual enrolled in International Studies and International Public Relations at UNC Charlotte with a minor in Mandarin, you could say global awareness and traveling are passions of mine. I can’t say it was sudden, however; I was bit by the travel bug when I was young. I am originally from a small town called Apex, NC and got the opportunity of a lifetime when my dad was offered a job in China. Nine-year old Halley had no clue where China was, but knew it was a new start.

Shanghai, China: one of the most populated cities in the world and I absorbed everything that was in it. I went to an international school where I was immersed with people of every different culture you could think of; I made friends ranging from Australian, Taiwanese, Japanese, French, Dutch, even African! I had no idea that such a diverse world existed and I loved every single person that was a part of it. The basis of my childhood was created there, and every bit of it was as exciting and amazing as the next.

Four years later and emerging as an early teenager, we returned to Apex and the setting of a small town. Over the course of those four years I was blown away by how big the world really is and how many interesting cultures encompass our societies. From then on I knew traveling was in my blood for good. I want to travel as my job, and let it take me wherever I need to be. I am excited in opportunities such as business travel, the Peace Corps, or even representing our country as a diplomat. One of my favorite quotes is, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page” by Saint Augustine.

Nowadays when I’m not studying or working at my internship, I’m speaking Chinese to locals at the Asian Market, cooking for my sister at home, or giving university tours on campus to prospective students and parents.

Anticipating graduation has me contemplating about what I want to do with my career. Do I know precisely what I want to do? Not exactly. I know, however, that it’s only my first few weeks at the WACC and I already feel my mind expanding. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the semester.

History in the Making: Colombia on the Verge of Peace Agreement

Colcolombia.pngombia is currently on the edge of a crucial peace agreement that will mark a major progress point in the Colombian conflict. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the conflict has lasted for nearly 60 years and is responsible for claiming the lives of many Colombian citizens.

The major entities involved include: The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), paramilitary, and the Colombian government. According to most sources, all of the parties listed committed heinous crimes and massacres except for the Colombian government. Fifty-four years into the conflict, approximately 220,000 people have been mercilessly slaughtered – 80 percent of whom were civilians. Because of this violence, approximately six million surviving Colombian citizens in rural areas were displaced from their homes. With 20,000 guerilla soldiers in the FARC and 5,000 in the ELN, each group terrorized villages, planted landmines, and recruited child soldiers. The paramilitary, a group seen as the enemy of the FARC and ELN, slaughtered entire villages that sympathized with either group. In addition to widespread crime and murder, Colombia’s economy began to fail. A severe economic depression affected the country, forcing its unemployment rate to nearly 20 percent.

On the verge of becoming a failed state, the Colombian government sought help beyond its borders and negotiated a financial support project with the United States. The project, entitled Plan Colombia, involved the United States giving Colombia a lump sum of nearly 1.2billion USD, and then continually providing about half that amount each year for an additional five years. The money was primarily spent on military advancement and defense. With this aid the Colombian government was able to increase defense enough to actively pursue the FARC and assassinate a number of high-ranking FARC commanders.

In recent years Colombia has made a great deal of progress in diminishing the conflict. In spite of the continual existence of the FARC, the ELN, and the paramilitary, there has been a sharp decline in crime and violence. 2015 boasts the record for the greatest year in conflict management by having the lowest conflict-related violence in 40 years in addition to showing the most progress in negotiations with the FARC. In July of 2015 the FARC resumed a once-broken unilateral ceasefire followed by negotiation meetings with the Colombian government in October. Near the end of October, the Colombian government and the FARC revealed an agreement to meet again within six months and sign a final peace pledge. Because the FARC is the most powerful militant group in Colombia, this peace pledge will have transformative effects.

The pledge of peace is a promising start. Colombia’s quest for peace is not finished, however. The country still has to improve their judicial system, restore security in the rural areas, and reestablish the rule of law.

For further information concerning the conflict and peace agreement, read the special report written by The Economist in honor of Colombia’s recent progress.

Summarized By Rakia Mahan, Fall 2015 Intern (International Public Relations Major, UNC Charlotte)

Introducing Brianna Huff: Welcome (Fall 2015 Intern)

Brianna HuffAfter making a detour at the office of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, and asking for more information about the organization my interest in the nonprofit was piqued. The following fall semester, I decided to volunteer at the annual World Quest event. After doing more research and learning about the influence this organization has had on educating young adults about international affairs and events, I knew this would be an organization I would like to become involved with.

As a child of a military service parent, I have always had a keen interest in international politics specifically the broadcasting aspect. After my father was deployed to Iraq twice, I dreamed of being a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. Traveling every two to four years also made it easy to engage in world affairs. Because of the Marine Corps I have been granted numerous opportunities to travel outside of the US including to Okinawa, Japan. This past spring semester I studied abroad in Chile. I also indulged in the foods and culture of the South American land.

I am entering my senior year as a double major in International Public Relations and History and double minor in Journalism and Spanish at UNC Charlotte. In my free time I enjoy volunteering with various nonprofits that aid and support immigrants. I also volunteered as an English tutor to non-English speakers at the local International House.

In my free time I enjoy reading books that cover children soldiers in warfare, my favorite memoir is “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah. I also enjoy watching telenovelas, travel blogging and talking to my family and friends.

I am looking forward to becoming more actively aware of pressing global issues with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte.

International Speaker Series: Spiraling Hopes for US-China Relations (Student Perspective: UNC Charlotte)

Last ThursdaDSC05972y, seventy UNC Charlotte students got the unique opportunity to hear from Dr. Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Road Island.

Proficient in both Russian and Chinese, Dr. Goldstein is also very well versed in all things having to do with US–China relations and has authored and co-authored a fair share of books regarding the matter including China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force (2007), China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact on Beijing’s Maritime Policies (2008), China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in a Comparative Historical Context (2009), China, the US and 21st Century Sea Power:  Defining a Maritime Partnership (2010) and Chinese Aerospace Power:  Evolving Maritime Roles (2011). His latest book, Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry, discusses Dr. Goldstein’s ideas on the budding tensions between the two countries as well as his ideas on how these tensions could be handled in a proactive and beneficial way – for both countries involved. While time was limited, Dr. Goldstein managed to fit a large amount of content and discussion into the conversation with the students. He urged students to understand the need for cultural understanding and education, as well as a sense of diplomacy and negotiation between the two countries.

Goldstein DSC05976makes his case by urging students to take Chinese voices seriously and proposing ten “cooperation spirals” that outline step-by-step approaches for resolving the seemingly intractable problems in US-China relations. Through these Cooperation spirals, Goldstein believes that trust between the two countries will slowly begin to be built and that these incremental and reciprocal steps will gradually lead to larger and more significant compromises over time.

In addressing economic relations, Goldstein argues that economic interdependence does not preclude conflict. He pointed out that before Pearl Harbor, America was Japan’s leading trade partner and that before World War I, Europe had a large amount of economic interdependence. With this in mind, Goldstein warns of mistaking high levels of trade as an indication of lessening economic tension between the US and China.

The topic of discussion sparked many questions from the students, ranging from how Dr. Goldstein got interested in the politics of China to legitimate concerns on the threat that China could pose to the security of the United States.

“I think it’s worth asking – Do we [Americans] understand China as well as they understand us?” – Dr. Goldstein

After the discussion, many students stayed to discuss the ideas presented by Dr. Goldstein, bringing up concerns with the probability of successful negotiations between the two countries, and the multi-faceted approach suggested by Dr. Goldstein to reaching those peaceful resolutions.

DSC05978Throughout the entire conversations, Dr. Goldstein could not stress enough the necessity for college students to be eager to understand the relationship between the two, as he said, “largest economies in the world”, and the need to have conversations regarding the steps that both countries must take to start to come to a mutual understanding. After seeing how involved the students were in the topic, even after the conversation had ended, I would say that he was successful in creating that dialogue that he saw to be so important.

Written by Justin Kramer, Senior, UNC Charlotte (Fall 2015 Intern) 

Welcome and Introduction: Justin Kramer, UNC Charlotte (Fall 2015 Intern)

justinkramerAfter volunteering with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte for the past two years, I realized that the work they do and the initiative to foster global citizenship through education was exactly the type of work I was passionate about.

As a graduating senior from the University of North Carolina Charlotte triple majoring in Political Science, my International and Global Area Studies, and German, in addition to my involvement with the university’s Model United Nations program as president this past year, it became obvious that global awareness is something that I am very passionate about. Through the Model United Nations program I have been able to travel all over the world – Visiting places like Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan; Brussels, Belgium; and Paris, France.

My specific interest in my International and Global Area Studies has been focused around peace and conflict resolution; studying primarily the effects nationalism has on peace processes. Through these studies, I grew to become very interested in the many factors of German culture and decided to study in Germany. In the summer of 2015 I lived in Hamburg and studied at the Goethe Institute, but traveling throughout Germany to immerse myself in as much of the different cultures as possible. While there I also had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, Spain; Venice, Italy; and Vienna, Austria.

In my free time you can find me practicing piano, playing with my two and a half year old Siberian Husky, Akamaru, or practicing martial arts.

I am looking forward to the new knowledge I will gain from interning with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, and learning about the many international relationships that are present in Charlotte. It is my hope that after I finish this internship, new doors will be open that will allow me to continue furthering myself as a global citizen.