Symposium: Syria

Dear Orange Friends:

Last week, I attended part of a daylong symposium on “Syria—Running for Cover: Politics, Justice, and Media in the Syrian Conflict.” This was an initiative of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement and was a collaboration of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the College of Law, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the Middle Eastern Studies Program, and the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. It was attended by students, faculty, public officials, staff, and community members, many of whom traveled long distances to participate.

Many aspects of what has happened and is happening in Syria are depressing, and the temptation is to turn our eyes away. Universities, at their best, look at things unflinchingly. I doubt there are many other places that could have assembled the necessary talent from all disciplines—economics, religious and area studies, political science, law, communications, and the humanities, among others—and shed so much light on the complicated issues involved in the Syrian conflict.

The future of Syracuse University depends upon a growing role in the global community. The symposium was a stark and powerful example. International experts on the horror in Syria gathered in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. The audience was encouraged to take part. Through Periscope and Twitter, people around the world had the chance to follow the conversation—and participate.

The focus was raw and often difficult to hear. There were accounts of atrocities against children, of cities brought to rubble, of refugees with nowhere to go. Some of the world’s great and courageous journalists described the struggle to fully convey the horror in this changing era of digital media. The stories and images were a reminder of an unbearable reality—but the symposium raised that reality into the light.

No one with a conscience could leave that auditorium unshaken. It was exactly what a great University is called to do.


Kent Syverud

Chancellor Kent Syverud