Why this conference?

Our planet, nation and generation face incredible challenges. Youth in the US ages 16-24 have the highest unemployment rate in over 50 years; worldwide, the youth unemployment rate is over 2.5 times that of adults. Every year almost 750,000 teens in the US become pregnant, and 82% of these pregnancies are unplanned. Worldwide, 1500 women and girls die from pregnancy-related causes every 24 hours. Over 49 million Americans live in poverty, and worldwide over 1 billion people live on less than $1.25/day. However you slice it, we are at a critical moment.

Youth are often among the most adversely impacted by global challenges. As the generation that will inherit these complex problems, we need the skills to explore, debate and implement new approaches to solving them. As Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same consciousness that created them.” It is our great challenge to set a new course for achieving a more peaceful, just, healthy and sustainable future.

Young people have tremendous power to affect change. We are brimming with energy, innovation and hope. We brought a US president to power in 2008, and chased an Egyptian one from office in 2011. We are the most global generation yet, and regularly connect with our peers around the world via blogs, Facebook and Youtube. We want to get involved; in a 2011 study, Brookings found that 71% of millennials are interested in public service. We are primed to seize this moment and build a better future for our planet and ourselves. The question is: will we seize the day?

The 2012 elections offer a important opportunity to talk about the US role in the world. This is a moment to challenge not only our leaders but also ourselves to think about what kind of world we’re building. It’s a time to make connections, polish our skills and create change.

Will you join us?