High school students in five states will bring their opinions on global issues from the classroom to the State House. These discussions with elected officials and civic leaders are part of the 12th annual Capitol Forum on America’s Future, an initiative of the Choices Program at Brown University and its Watson Institute for International Studies.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On Monday, March 22, 2010, Rhode Island high school students will discuss global issues with 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 and Nebraska will hold similar sessions as part of the 12th 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 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. Students debate the U.S. role in international trade and the global economy, as well as other foreign policy issues, such as terrorism, immigration, nuclear proliferation and the environment.

“On Capitol Forum Day, student representatives of each of the participating high schools come together to deliberate on important global issues with each other, political leaders and policy experts,” said Christopher Walsh, co-coordinator of the Rhode Island Capitol Forum. “As the world grows more interdependent and the problems more complex, Capitol Forum has proven to be an exciting and important learning program for high school students in Rhode Island and around our nation.”

Additional Rhode Island panelists include Audrey Bracey Deegan, interim president of Plan USA; Sean Hensler, associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College; Nicolai Petro, professor at the University of Rhode Island; and Christina Rowley, visiting fellow at the Watson Institute.

Some 80 students from Rhode Island high schools will participate on March 22, representing Charles E. Shea, Cranston East, East Greenwich, LaSalle Academy, Middlebridge, Narragansett, Providence Academy of International Studies, Scituate, South Kingstown, Toll Gate and Westerly.

The Choices Program

The Choices for the 21st Century Education Program is an educational outreach program of the Watson Institute for International Studies and 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.