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Building Policy Consensus on the World Stage: The Pitfalls, Progress, and Possibilities

, Virtual Meeting Room

Updated 2/12

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

4th President of Croatia

Live streamed programs. Advance registration required.


Building Policy Consensus on the World Stage: The Pitfalls, Progress, and Possibilities

We see it across the globe, multilateral world order challenged, erosion of values, deeply polarized societies, represented by uneasy coalitions and divided governments, factions unable to come together to make important policy decisions for its citizens. This seminar series will explore the need to find common ground, overseas and at home, to build stronger alliances, resilient societies, and stronger citizenry. Building on the experiences of a girl who grew up fighting prejudice and unequal opportunities and navigating political and diplomatic corridors and centers of power, as well as glass labyrinths of gender bias, from the rural roads of the suburbs of Rijeka, to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, from Canada and the US, to Brussels and NATO Headquarters, to become Croatia's first female Head of State, President Grabar Kitarovic has seen what it takes to rebuild a nation and bring people together.

Dates & Times

 - Monday, March 22 at 4:00 p.m. (EST)

 - Monday, March 29 at 4:00 p.m. (EST)

 - Monday, April 5 at 4:00 p.m. (EST)

 - Monday, April 12 at 4:00 p.m. (EST)

 - Monday, April 19 at 4:00 p.m. (EST)


About Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is a Croatian politician and diplomat who has been the President of Croatia since 2015. She is the first woman to be elected president after the first multi-party elections in 1990. At 46, she became the youngest person to enter office.

Before her election as president, Grabar-Kitarovic held a number of governmental and diplomatic positions. Namely, she was Minister of European Affairs from 2003 to 2005, first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration from 2005 to 2008 in both the first and second cabinets of Ivo Sanader, Croatian ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011 and Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO under Secretaries-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Jens Stoltenberg from 2011 to 2014. She still remains the highest ranking female official to have served within NATO's administrative structure.

Grabar-Kitarovic was a member of the conservative Croatian Democratic Union party from 1993 to 2015 and was also one of three Croatian members of the Trilateral Commission, but she was required to resign both positions upon taking office as president in 2015, as Croatian Presidents are not permitted to hold other political positions or party membership while in office.

In 2016, Forbes magazine listed Grabar-Kitarovic as the world's 46th most powerful woman.

Seminar Details

- March 22, 4:00PM EST

The Beginning: How personal paths shape our perspectives

Someone once said that politicians are like window washers: on the way up, they have to keep in mind that they will be meeting the same people on the way down. Life is full of ups and downs and every fall provides potential for a step forward. Drawing on President Grabar’s personal experiences and those of her peers, this seminar will center on how our own life experiences, successes and failures, keeping an open mind and dealing with prejudice – not only that of others but also our own – shape our perspectives and leadership styles. How to turn “being different” into an advantage for yourself and for your community and maximize

your potential, all the while dealing with misogynism, sensationalism, fake news, trolls, misinterpretation and being taken out of context. How to “pay it forward” by giving back to your community and your society not only through one’s political role/function, but also through social engagement and activism. Populism in approach versus populism in substance will be discussed, and special focus will be placed on leadership of women, breaking glass ceilings and shattering glass labyrinths, empowering girls and women, in particular in developing countries and crises areas, as an essential prerequisite to achieve lasting stability, peace and prosperity.


- March 29, 4:00PM EST

The Future of Diplomacy: A Global Perspective

With multiple and multifaceted challenges to the established world-order coming from many corners, multilateralism under attack, the rise of regional actors, extremism, quests to question the exclusivity of the Western system of values, the role of diplomacy becomes ever more important to ease the tensions and work on solutions to the key crises and issues facing the mankind, be it climate change, migrations, terrorism, inequality, sustainable development, public health… The seminar will explore the role of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, the fitness of the current UN-system and other multilateral organizations to face the new challenges, the potential for innovation to bring about a more equitable global distribution. Challenges and opportunities to diplomacy, posed by the means of communication, direct contacts between leaders, the new media and social networks, will be explored, as well as the value of public diplomacy and soft power and its relationship to hard power.


- April 5, 4:00PM EST

NATO and the Future of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance: A Former Assistant Secretary General’s Perspective

The new and emerging threats and challenges testify to the need and continued relevance of the Alliance; however a revamped and modernized one. An Alliance fit for purpose, with increased cooperation with partners around the world in order to face asymmetric and hybrid threats and challenges, coming not only from within, but also from outside of its geographic area. The seminar will explore views on keeping the relevance of NATO, in light of the re-emergence of territorial threats, but also of the new growing threats such as cyber attacks, whether they can be considered attacks under Article 5 and whether NATO as a whole can find a way to respond to them. Topics such as the future of defense spending, the value of partnerships in particular in the post out-of-area operations phase, and restoring trust and confidence between the US and its partners, will be discussed.


- April 12, 4:00PM EST

Challenges of Building Social Consensus: Education in Croatia - a Case Study

Modernizing curricula and teaching methods to bring out the full potential of the nation and its every individual, with the undercurrent battle of world views and values, having a perspective on future jobs and skills, is a mine field for any politician, but the necessary one to thread. The seminar will explore how issues of national and universal importance can quickly become ideological and political issues and create rifts within society. Working across a divided society, taking into account opposing views in order not to antagonize but build bridges and bring people together around the common goals, and overall modernization of societies, especially those resistant to change, will be explored in this seminar. The case study will be that of the Croatian Curricular Reform, in particular with the view of the new demographic trends and building upon the experience with on-line programs during the global pandemic. We need to re-think our educational methods and provide responses to contemporary challenges. Among other, questions will be posed at to how to create schools as places of modern and creative learning and training that encourage excellence, creativity, confidence and competition among students, but also educate responsible citizens, schools that will survive and resist the constant social and political turmoil, as well as domestic and global challenges and threats such as terrorism, migrations and pandemics. How to avoid “lost generations”? In this respect, the role of not just scientific, but social innovation is most important, as well as consensus based on the public interest and not on that of particular lobbies, parochial circles, ethnic groups or religion-based restrictions.


- April 19, 4:00PM EST

The Path Forward 2021 and Beyond

Globalization vs. regionalization, universality vs. particularity, competing orders and rising actors, rising nationalism and extremism, the US-EU-Russia-China quadrangle of power interaction, confrontation and cooperation, emerging powers, the complexity of relations of multiple and diverse actors in international relations, are all topics to be discussed in the context of the reshaping world-order for the future. The position and role of the US, the challenges and opportunities for the new administration, will be explored, with a focus on restoring America’s image globally and regionally, restoring international alliances and re-engaging in multilateral organizations and institutions. The seminar will also explore the needs and ways of global promotion of universal human rights and values.



Conferences. Panels. Speakers
School of Public Affairs, Sine Institute of Policy & Politics
School of Public Affairs
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