Clinton Urges 'Positive Action' in Campus Talk

Photo: Former President Bill Clinton addressed students, faculty and staff in Zellerbach Hall Wednesday. His speech focused on poverty and global citizenship in an interdependent world.
Anne Marie Schuler/Staff
Former President Bill Clinton addressed students, faculty and staff in Zellerbach Hall Wednesday. His speech focused on poverty and global citizenship in an interdependent world.

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Bill Clinton speaks at UC Berkeley

Students and staff share their thoughts and responses before and after listening to former president Bill Clinton speak.

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Clinton Visits Cal
Images from Clinton's visit to Cal.

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Former President Bill Clinton came to the UC Berkeley campus Wednesday to speak on the need for innovative action as a means to combat poverty in an increasingly interdependent world.

Clinton spoke for nearly an hour to an audience of about 2,000 students, faculty and staff. In his address "Global Citizenship: Turning Good Intentions into Positive Action" he focused on how individual action can coalesce into a global effort to rectify an "inequality of opportunity" among the world's population, half of which subsists on less than $2 a day, he said.

Despite the challenges facing billions of people hoping to emerge from poverty, the advent of the Internet and globalization have changed how poverty issues can be addressed, Clinton said.

"You are living in a time in history when the individual citizen ... can have more influence over the outcome of affairs than ever before," Clinton said to the audience. "The future is in your hands. You gotta be able to answer the how question and you have to be willing to put yourself on the line."

Clinton founded the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005. Since then, the initiative has spearheaded more than 1,700 actions in 150 countries, according to the initiative's Web site.

He said that the initiative's emphasis on specific actions, such as work currently under way to improve access to HIV treatments in developing countries, has achieved results. The advent of the Internet and the rise of globalization have set the stage for new approaches, according to Clinton.

"We are an interconnected world and we will either make a community of shared opportunity and shared responsibility or we will pay the price," Clinton said. "There is a deeper understanding of this I think than ever before."

Improving access to education can lead to major improvements in the lives of many people in the developing world, he said.

"In the poorest countries, one week of school adds 10 percent per year to earning capacity for life," Clinton said.

Some students said that Clinton pointed out how two problems can often be solved with one solution.

"I just thought it was interesting about how he talked about how solar energy would not only help stop global warming but also make jobs," said Sophomore Paul Hwang.

The event was sponsored by The Blum Center for Developing Economies. Since its 2006 inception, the center has spurred the development of the campus global poverty program and educated 2,500 students, according to UC Regent Richard Blum, who founded the center.

"Clinton's visit is a wonderful recognition and acknowledgment of the work that Berkeley students are doing," said professor of city and regional planning Ananya Roy, who oversees curriculum for the campus global poverty program. "There is a new optimism. There is a new will to get engaged and stay engaged ... to see oneself as belonging to a global community."


Zach E.J. Williams is the university news editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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