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State of the World 2021 highlights struggle for democracy around the globe
Panelists discuss changes in Eurasia on day four of the State of the World 2021.

State of the World 2021 highlights struggle for democracy around the globe

Virtual, five-day event featured more than 100 global affairs and foreign policy experts

February 9, 2021 at 11:30am

It began with the pandemic, ended with climate change and covered nearly every top-of-mind global issue in between.

FIU’s fourth State of the World was the largest and most comprehensive global affairs conference to date, featuring more than 100 speakers over five days touching on topics that spanned the globe from Africa, the Middle East, China and Russia to the United States, Latin America, Australia and Eurasia.

“Because it was completely virtual due to the pandemic, this year’s State of the World gave students the chance to hear from even more of the leading thinkers, scholars, activists and policymakers than in prior years, said David J. Kramer, senior fellow at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and lead organizer of the event.

“We covered almost every continent. We had six members of Congress, which was a first for us. And most important, we heard a lot of inspiring stories from people who are very dedicated to keeping the struggle for democracy going around the world.’’

Sponsored by the Green School’s Dorothea Green Lecture Series in collaboration with the McCain Institute at Arizona State University, this year’s State of the World included brief messages from former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and McCain Institute Board Chair Cindy McCain.

“I wish we could all be together in Miami again this year for the State of the World conference,’’ McCain said. “I enjoyed being there in person last year, and I look forward to a time when we can gather again at FIU for meaningful discussions on so many global topics.”

Speaking during a panel on changes in Eurasia – focused on the brutality of the Putin regime and the attempted assassination of Russian opposition leader Alexei Novalny – leading Russian analyst Lilia Shevtsova compared State of the World at FIU to Davos, the informal name for the annual four-day conference held by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“This is Florida Davos,’’ she said, noting that she attends many conferences and had never participated in such an “exceptional marathon” as State of the World. “I’m not talking only about topics. I’m talking about people. I’m talking about the depth of discussion and a readiness to get rid of misperceptions.’’

Addressing the panelists at the close of the event on Friday, Dean John F. Stack said: “[thank you for] your voices, your stories, your wisdom and your hope for change.

“We learned much from you. This past week, we covered the world and explored some of the most formidable challenges facing us as a human community,’’ he added. “We witnessed civil discourse and debate grounded in critical thinking and observable facts. I believe there is a hunger out there for such thoughtful conversations that provoke people to think, reflect and inspire them to work together … to help create a better world.’’

All of the sessions for State of the World are available for viewing at For information on the speakers, visit