<p>High school students in seven states will bring their opinions on global issues from the classroom to the State House. These visits to elected officials and civic leaders are part of the 10th annual Capitol Forum on America’s Future, an initiative of the Choices Program at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.</p>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On Monday, March 10, 2008, Rhode Island high school students will discuss global issues with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis and other elected officials and civic leaders at the Rhode Island State House.

Hundreds of high school students in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Washington will hold similar sessions as part of the 10th annual Capitol Forum on America’s Future. The national program is an initiative of Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies and its Choices for the 21st Century Education Program.

As part of the Capitol Forum program, students study and discuss various positions on global issues – even, on occasion, advocating positions that are opposed to their own – to better understand options and their consequences.

Run on a statewide basis, the forum seeks to raise awareness of critical international issues and to help develop a foundation for long-term civic engagement. This year, students will debate the U.S. role in foreign policy and will discuss terrorism, immigration, nuclear proliferation, trade and the environment.

“I am impressed with how much more attuned America’s youth is becoming to the world around us,” said Watson Institute Distinguished Visiting Fellow Lincoln Chafee, who participated in last year’s Capitol Forum as a Rhode Island senator. “Increasingly, they are voicing their concerns about global matters, traveling widely, and taking up international studies and careers. Capitol Forum is the kind of initiative that sparks this interest in high school students and it serves us well.”

Additional Rhode Island panelists include Shazia Akhtar, sponsorship and development education manager, Plan Pakistan; Marc Genest: professor of strategy and policy development, U.S. Naval War College; Kathleen Gorman, director, Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America, University of Rhode Island; and Tim Hennessey: professor of marine affairs and political science, University of Rhode Island.

“Capitol Forum is a dynamic program that provides high school youth with the opportunity to openly discuss current global issues and the role of United States foreign policy not only with one another but also with politicians and experts who are working on the issues on a daily basis,” said Kate Ezzes, youth engagement and action coordinator for Plan USA, a partner in the event.

Rhode Island high schools participating on March 10 include Burrillville, Cooley High School of Health Science and Technology, Cranston East, Cranston West, East Greenwich, Portsmouth, Providence Academy of International Studies, Scituate, South Kingstown and Woonsocket.

About the Choices Program

Choices for the 21st Century Education Program (www.choices.edu) is an educational outreach program of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Through its curricular resources, professional development programs and special projects, Choices reaches high school students and teachers in more than one-third of American high schools.