Tomorrow’s leaders explore international affairs with former Senator Lugar

More than 400 high school students from across Indiana soaked in valuable insight on the most pressing issues of our time during a special presentation by former Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who hosted an annual leadership symposium at the University of Indianapolis.

More than 60 Hoosier counties were represented at the 41st annual Richard G. Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders, hosted in December 2017 by the Lugar Academy at the University. The tradition allows select high school students to hear from one of the most distinguished minds on policy and domestic and global affairs.

“I look forward to this event each year because I am able to interact with students interested in leadership and making a difference,” said Lugar, a Distinguished Trustee at the University. “These are some of the next great leaders in Indiana and perhaps the country.”

“I hope to help spark the thought that would lead to them running for office or taking some public office for service one day,” Lugar added.

Julia Garrard, a senior from Lebanon High School, was honored by Lugar as this year’s recipient of the Richard G. Lugar Distinguished Student Leadership Award. The $1,000 award recognizes one Indiana high school senior each year for leadership and community service activities.

From partisan politics and climate change to trade agreements and immigration, Lugar provided insight on many of the hot-button issues facing society today. He agreed partisanship continues to be a major stumbling block to the legislative progress, but he said this is not a new phenomenon: The difference today is the power of special interests overshadowing the constituencies of elected officials.

Lugar often mentioned the work of the Lugar Center, a think tank group that issues the Bipartisan Index each year to rank Congress members on how often they work across party lines.

The 85-year-old Lugar, who served for 36 years in the U.S. Senate (including as a leader on the Committee on Foreign Affairs), led a spirited Q and A session, touching on many topics important to young people. Among his messages: Manmade climate change is real. International trade is critical for international relations. DACA children should be protected. North Korea is an extreme danger to the world.

President Robert L. Manuel praised Lugar for his continued commitment to the next generation of leaders and to the University. Lugar is a former professor of political science and holds a honorary degree from the University of Indianapolis.