Brown President Ruth J. Simmons will serve on the steering committee of the newly formed Partners for a New Beginning, an organization supporting projects that seek a better understanding and increased engagement with the Muslim world, including the University’s Heritage as Bridge project.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — President Ruth J. Simmons will serve on the steering committee of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB), a new organization committed to broadening and deepening engagement between the United States and international Muslim communities by supporting public-private partnerships that enhance economic opportunity, science and technology, education, and exchange.

Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state, announced the formation of the steering committee in New York City today, with Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, and Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. PNB’s commitment was made through the Clinton Global Initiative during its annual meeting, Sept. 20-22, 2010, in New York.

PNB is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established as a partnership between the Aspen Institute and the U.S. Department of State. It is designed to harness private sector and civil society resources to advance the vision President Barack Obama laid out in his June 2009 Cairo speech of renewed engagement with Muslims around the world — an engagement based on mutual respect and responsibility. Albright serves as PNB’s chair; Kent and Isaacson serve as vice chairs.

Members of the steering committee, all prominent American leaders, will use their expertise, global networks, and access to resources to foster locally driven public–private partnerships that will advance opportunity in Muslim-majority countries and Muslim communities in four key areas: economic opportunity, science and technology, education, and exchange.

“Scholars have a fundamental role to play in advancing understanding and cooperation across cultures,” Simmons said. “I am pleased to participate in launching this effort.”

Brown University’s Heritage as Bridge project is among the initial programs to be supported by PNB. Heritage as Bridge identifies heritage sites — in this case defined as archaeological sites, parks, historical monuments, or museums — as both economic catalysts for local sustainable development and as ready springboards to an enriched mutual understanding of each other’s culture and history. The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and its director, Susan Alcock, the Joukowsky Family Professor in Archaeology, will lead the effort, with additional involvement of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. Both Brown University organizations are currently active in heritage projects in the Muslim world.

The commitments PNB announced today will have a positive impact on half a million people in Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, and West Bank/Gaza during the next five years. Those commitments will have the net effect of:

  • increasing access to finance, business capacity, and development services;
  • improving educational opportunities for students and teachers;
  • fostering physical and virtual exchange programs; and
  • enhancing science and technology solutions.

Additional information on PBN and its initial commitments is available online at