Cohen to incorporate technology into Forum


The usual excitement of the new academic year gained even more traction during the Convocation ceremony when President Rob Oliver announced this year’s Boe Forum speaker, Jared Cohen.

Cohen, the current director of Google Ideas, served for six years as an adviser to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the author of “Children of Jihad” and “One Hundred Days of Silence,” and, at only 30-years-old, he is the youngest person to speak at the Augustana Boe Forum.

Michael Seeley, Augustana senior and member of the Boe Forum committee, feels that Cohen will “provide a new focus” for the forum.

“He’s our generation,” Seeley said. “He understands how to use social media and the Internet to make changes. He has the ability to highlight important things about social media that others probably won’t see in every day use.”

Cohen’s web expertise emphasizes the theme for this year’s forum of “Social Media and Social Change.” Along with his social media skills, Cohen carries the political experience of being inside the state department.

In 2009, Cohen requested that Twitter postpone scheduled maintenance in order to keep an open communication channel for protesting Iranians.

According to Seeley, Cohen’s example will provide Augustana students with the ability to learn how to enact change by using technologies that are easily accessible.

“Clearly, Google felt that his experience in state department and the innovative way he was handling communication technologies there made him an attractive individual for their think tank,” Harry Thompson, director of the Center for Western Studies (CWS), said. “[Cohen] gets it. He understands how foreign policy can be conducted by using these communication technologies.”

The CWS organizes the annual Boe Forum at Augustana in honor of former S.D. Governor Nils Boe. Boe’s long-time goal was to bring important men and women to the Northern Plains.

“He wanted to make sure that people in this part of the country shouldn’t be short-changed,” Thompson said. “[They] shouldn’t be at a disadvantage of getting to know some of the people who are making decisions and influencing the way the world conducts its affairs.”

Cohen is scheduled to speak on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Elmen Center. Students and community members have the opportunity to attend the Boe Forum at no cost. Tickets can be found online or in the CWS.