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21st Century Statecraft

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Speaker(s): Alec Ross
Chair: Charlie Beckett

Recorded on 10 March 2011 in Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House.

Technology and innovation have changed the conditions for statecraft in the 21st century. Just as the internet has changed economics, culture, and politics, it is also transforming the practice of foreign policy. It is not simply the fact that more people are using ever more sophisticated technologies; the structural and demographic changes that have accompanied these quantum leaps in connection technologies are highly disruptive. Recent events in North Africa and the Middle East have put a spotlight on these phenomena. The United States is responding to these shifts in international relations by extending the reach of our diplomacy beyond government-to-government communications. We are adapting our statecraft by reshaping our development and diplomatic agendas to meet old challenges in new ways and by deploying one of America's great assets – innovation. This is 21st Century Statecraft – complementing traditional foreign policy tools with newly innovated and adapted instruments of statecraft that fully leverage the networks, technologies, and demographics of our interconnected world.

Alec Ross serves as Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In this role, Alec is tasked with maximizing the potential of technology in service of America's diplomatic and development goals.

Prior to his service at the State Department, Alec worked on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team and served as Convener for Obama for America's Technology, Media & Telecommunications Policy Committee.

In 2000, Alec Ross and three colleagues co-founded One Economy, a global nonprofit that uses innovative approaches to deliver the power of technology and information about education, jobs, health care and other vital issues to low-income people. During his eight years at One Economy, it grew from a team of four people working in a basement to the world's largest digital divide organization, with programs on four continents.

Alec started his career as a sixth grade teacher in inner-city Baltimore through Teach for America. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.

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