Schwarzenegger Institute Goes to South Korea

USC hosted its 2013 Global Conference in Seoul, South Korea on May 23-25 and by all accounts is was a total success.  USC President C.L. Max Nikias opened the event with an inspiring State-of-the-University speech, where he outlined the University's inexorable march to prominence over the last several years in several areas including student development, faculty hiring, sports, and fundraising.  Following President Nikias' presentation, Provost Elizabeth Garrett introduced Governor and USC Downey Professor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who presented the keynote speech.

Governor Schwarzenegger spoke to an adoring audience of roughly 500 people from all over the world.  The Governor began by noting the similarities between California and Korea: both states have been visionaries and leaders in areas such as technology, green energy, and stem cell research.  Sprinkled throughout the thoughtful and humorous speech, Governor Schwarzenegger outlined five lessons he has learned over the course of his life and that continue to motivate him today.  These lessons highlight the importance of the following:

  1. Giving back to your community, state, and nation,
  2. Thinking like a visionary,
  3. Building on current ideas and innovations and not reinventing the wheel,
  4. Accepting personal responsibility for your health and well-being, and
  5. Understanding that as an individual, you have the power to change the world.

The audience not only gave Governor Schwarzenegger a standing ovation, but many participants referred back to the speech in panels and discussions over the next two days of the conference.

Bonnie Reiss, the Schwarzenegger Institute's Global Director, and Dr. Anthony Bailey, USC's Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, organized a terrific plenary panel addressing the globalization of entertainment immediately following the keynote speech.  The panel members included Governor Schwarzenegger, Film Producer Joo-ick Lee, and USC Professor and Hollywood Producer Michael Peyser.  To facilitate the discussion among the panelists, USC School of Cinematic Arts Dean Elizabeth Daley posed questions on topics such as the popularity of American films the world-over, the importance of filmmaking for local economies, the role of movies and TV in shaping public policy, and the changing nature of media and technology.  This panel also received an enthusiastic response from the audience.

Before the conference got underway, I went with Price School of Public Policy Dean Jack Knott and Associate Dean Carol Rush to meet with prominent academic leaders in Korea, including President Yeon Cheon Oh and Dean Junki Kim both of Seoul National University (SNU).  SNU is an exciting and innovative University, widely considered to draw the best students and faculty in Korea and from around the Pacific Rim area more generally.

SNU Professor Yong-duck Jung, who is on the Schwarzenegger Institute’s Academic Council, and Professor Sangheon Kim also invited me to present a scholarly paper to an audience of faculty and students at the University's Public Finance Research Center.  I presented a paper on IPOs in the American context and a new innovation that enables companies to lower their tax costs.  The students attending the presentation were mid- and high-level government officials taking time away from their jobs to learn and study public administration and finance at SNU.  It was exciting to discuss cutting-edge research and participate in SNU’s vibrant campus life while in Korea.

Two highlights of our trip included dinners hosted by Dean Jack Knott on Thursday evening and President and Mrs. Nikias on Friday evening.  Both dinners took place in beautiful settings and included fifteen courses, such as "Snacks for Spring," "Royal Hot Pot," and "Platter of Nine Delicacies."  Each course was artistically presented on a small plate and provided a wonderful introduction to Korean culture and food.

Before leaving Seoul, Bonnie and I were able to enjoy the city.  We joined USC Provost Beth Garrett, Dornsife College of Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Kay, Senior Vice President for Administration Todd Dickey, and Todd’s incredible partner Cliff Teston on a tour.  We visited the Jogye Buddhist Temple, watched the Royal Guard-Changing Ceremony, and toured the Gyeongbok Palace built in 1395. 

Professor Nancy Staudt is the Academic Director, USC Schwarzenegger Institute, and the Edward G. Lewis Chair in Law, USC Gould School of Law