5:00 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m. Lecture
Featuring a conversation with Mark Sidel, Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin
The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy hosted its final Conversation in Public Policy of the academic year on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 featuring President of Texas A&M Michael K. Young speaking on the topic of “Freedom of Religion and the Global Growth of Democracy.” The evening began with welcoming remarks from Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Dean of the Bush School, who noted that the talk would be President Young’s first lecture as a tenured professor of the Bush School. Dr. Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute, introduced both President Young and conversation partner, Professor Mark Sidel, professor of law and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin. Both speakers have expertise in international law and human rights issues.
In his prepared remarks, President Young outlined the positive relationship between religious freedom and human rights. He postulated that American foreign policy should include the spread of religious freedom for both moral and practical reasons. Because most of the world identifies in some capacity with a religion, religion drives the way individuals think about and live their lives. Religion’s ability to impact individuals’ lives has led many governments to suppress religious freedom. Governments without secure power are threatened by the counter-organizing power of religion and the idea that the allegiance of their people is to a being above government. The resulting restrictions, according to President Young, have led to violence. President Young also briefly discussed the positive economic outcomes associated with religious freedom, pointing to a strong correlation between minimal economic restrictions and religious freedom. President Young concluded his remarks by emphasizing that if the United States is to incorporate the spread of religious freedom into its foreign policy, it will need to lead by mindful example, and that other countries are unlikely to incorporate religious freedom in the same way as the United States.
After concluding his remarks, President Young was joined on stage by Professor Sidel, and the two engaged in a lively discussion regarding their common interests and the challenges associated with fully integrating a concern for religious freedom into United States foreign policy.
Michael K. Young became the 25th President of Texas A&M University on May 1, 2015, bringing a proven track record of academic leadership.
As president and tenured Professor of Law at the University of Washington from 2011 to 2015, he led the nation’s top public university in competing for federal research funding, as well as its ambitious plan to double the number of new companies based on UW research. He also launched the Global Innovation Exchange, a partnership in the State of Washington between the University of Washington, a major Chinese university and European universities. The University also more than doubled its fundraising during his tenure. Prior to that, he served as President and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Utah. Under President Young’s leadership, Utah raised its stature nationally and internationally, including becoming the nation’s top university in the number of new companies generated from university research. The University also built over a million square feet of academic and research space under President Young’s leadership.
Before assuming the presidency at Utah, he was Dean and Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at the George Washington University Law School, and he was a professor at Columbia University for more than 20 years. He also has been a visiting professor and scholar at three universities in Japan.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, President Young has broad experience across legal, public service, and diplomatic arenas. He served as a law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he has held a number of government positions, including Deputy Under Secretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs, and Ambassador for Trade and Environmental Affairs in the Department of State during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Among many other international agreements, President Young worked extensively on the treaties related to German unification, as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Uruguay Round negotiations leading to the World Trade Organization, and the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development. Subsequently, President Young served eight years on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which he chaired on two separate occasions.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Mark Sidel is Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin. In 2015-16 he will also serve as the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Visiting Chair in Community Foundations at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
In addition to his academic work, Sidel has served as president of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), the international academic association working to strengthen research on civil society, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. He currently serves as consultant on Asia (focusing on China, Vietnam, and India) to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), including its MacArthur Foundation-funded work to assist in the development of nonprofit law in China; on the Council on Foundations Community Foundations National Standards Board, the national accrediting and standard setting body for American community foundations and trusts; and on the boards of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT).
Other recent advising and consulting assignments include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (on philanthropic law and policy in China); the Ford Foundation (legal reform programs in China); Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (human rights and legal reform programming in China and Vietnam); DANIDA (Danish Development Cooperation, human rights and legal reform programs in Vietnam); Indevelop/SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, human rights programs in China); and other international and donor organizations.
Professor Sidel has served as Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Melbourne Law School, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po, in the "chaire Asie"), Victoria, Vermont and Miami law schools and other institutions, and as W. G. Hart Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London. In 2008 he won the ICNL-Cordaid Civil Liberties Prize for his work on the impact of anti-terrorism law on civil society in comparative perspective, and in 2012 he was named to the Outstanding Academic Award by the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association, Business Law Section. He is a graduate of Princeton University (A.B. in history, 1979), Yale University (M.A. in history, 1982), and Columbia Law School (J.D., 1985).
Professor Sidel's research and writing focus on the nonprofit sector and philanthropy (with a focus on Asia and the United States); law and development; comparative law; and human trafficking.
Annenberg Presidential Conference Center
1002 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas