‘Indiana in the World’ panelists link food production, global engagement

Post by IU Newsroom intern Annie Brackemyre

Despite representing a relatively small proportion of the global population, Indiana has a large international footprint. Indiana’s industries, the legacy of Indiana public officials and the role of IU as a global institution put Hoosiers at the forefront of foreign policy concerns.

The final session of the “American’s Role in the World: Issues Facing the Next President“ conference brought the global challenges home and considered the role of the local abroad. The panel, “Indiana in the World,” included Dan Coats, U.S. senator for Indiana; Lee Hamilton, retired congressman; Richard Lugar, retired senator; and James Morris, a member of the IU Board of Trustees and former director for the UN World Food Program.

'Indiana in the World' panelists were, from left, Dan Coats, Lee Hamilton, James Morris, Richard Lugar and moderator Lauren Robel.

‘Indiana in the World’ panelists were, from left, Dan Coats, Lee Hamilton, James Morris, Richard Lugar and moderator Lauren Robel.

Hamilton and Lugar were convenors of the conference and are distinguished scholars at the IU School of Global and International Studies, which sponsored the event. Lauren Robel, provost and executive vice president at IU Bloomington, moderated the discussion.

The panelists focused on Indiana’s role in food security and the waning political will to support humanitarian food assistance efforts at home and abroad.

“Hunger and food have been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for the past 75 years,” Morris said.

Lugar shared anecdotes on his years growing up on an Indiana farm and the advancements he witnessed in farming as a testament to the potential of genetically modified organisms. Indiana can be a leader in food security if it capitalizes on the GMO movement, Lugar said.

The panelists added that military might alone will not maintain the prominence the U.S. in the world.

“At the end of the day, the world will be changed by wheat, not weapons,” Morris said.

Issues of food security are directly related to almost all aspect of foreign policy, the panelists agreed. But without an improved level of foreign policy discourse by the presidential candidates, America’s ability to impact food security and world affairs hangs in the balance.

“I am appalled by the quality of the debate of our presidential candidates,” Hamilton said. “Given the kinds of problem and challenges we face in the world, there is a huge gap between that and what they talk about.”

“I throw my hands up watching these presidential debate,” Coats said. “Where is the substantive debate?”

Coats also critiqued the level of debate among those already elected, recalling only one example of substantive foreign policy debate in the Senate, involving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

IU students have the power to reverse the discouraging level of debate and foster Indiana’s reputation through civic engagement, the panelists said.

“This is the exciting part of Indiana’s contribution to the world: We take foreign policy seriously,” Lugar said, lauding the large student turnout.

“It’s not a time for silence and grumbling,” he said. “It is a time to be articulate. Express ideas here at IU and also express those ideas to people in authority.”

Hamilton is also available for comment on the 2016 election season. You can learn about his expertise and more at Decision 2016, a comprehensive online media guide for elections resources at IU.

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