Establish a forum for discourse on diverse current issues.
Provide the Hopkins community with access to distinguished, knowledgeable speakers.
Make topics of discussion approachable for all audiences.
In fall 1997, a group of undergraduate students recognized the need for a forum to discuss and debate global affairs and international issues. Merging the existing Woodrow Wilson International Studies Symposium and International Studies Forum Symposium, students formally created the “Symposium on Foreign Affairs.” Their first series launched in Spring 1998 with ten events, nearly all of which featured foreign ambassadors and Maryland officials. The Symposium quickly expanded over the next few years, hosting notables that include Sonia Gandhi, Shimon Peres, and Noam Chomsky.
In 2002, the name of the series changed permanently from “Symposium on Foreign Affairs” to the “Foreign Affairs Symposium” (FAS for short). The Symposium shifted away from individual speakers, instead hosting panels that covered current, controversial topics ranging from drug wars in Colombia to the war in Iraq. Overtime, the series returned to inviting individual notable leaders to speak and then engage students in discussion. During this time, symposium directors launched the flagship Presidential Lecture in partnership with the President’s Office. This annual event recognizes one speaker for their unique leadership and expertise in their field, and is fully funded by the President’s Office. Since then, the symposium has undergone rapid growth each year, continuing to expand in size and reach.