Global Consumption Top of Mind as 'Gen Y' Statesmen Convene

Jun 22, 2009, 12:48 ET from Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship

Renowned leaders announce National Student Congress

LEXINGTON, Ky., June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former U.S. Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum-Baker, National Advisory Committee Co-Chairs of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship, announce today the convening of the Center's Second Annual Student Congress. Delegates will discuss and debate a new generational point of view that is currently missing from the national dialogue on our country's future.

Fifty-one distinguished college seniors, representing every state and the District of Columbia, are meeting in Lexington, Kentucky June 20 through June 26 to share their common concerns about the top five global threats facing our nation. In the spirit of Kentucky Statesman Henry Clay, they are debating and developing consensus solutions for addressing these problems, which will be nationally released in the first-ever "Threat Index" on June 26. Preliminary surveys indicate a trend among these "Gen Y" Statesmen that rampant consumerism tops the list of their concerns as a global problem followed by nuclear proliferation, pandemics and access to quality care.

Comprised of over 70 million people, "Gen Y" (18 - 32) is entering a job market stymied by the longest economic recession since the Great Depression. Yet, the current financial crisis is not at the forefront of their list of concerns as they argue the importance of a long-term outlook. They represent the first generation to be challenged by the stark realities of resource scarcity and depletion as well as consumption patterns that are incompatible with our future interests.

"The world's resources are as finite as our capacities," said Jared Whittington, a former U.S. Army Combat Medic college senior representing the State of Maryland at the Student Congress. "We cannot continue our present patterns of industrial use and consumption if we hope to leave a world suitable for our children."

The Student Congress is being held at the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University as well as Ashland, the Estate of Henry Clay, in Lexington, Kentucky. Students were either recommended by their U.S. Senator or by their university to attend. The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship provided full scholarships to all student attendees.

Justice O'Connor, reflecting on the life and work of one of America's most notable founding fathers said, "Henry Clay was an indispensable man. His career skipped across the entire surface of American political waters, and we still feel the ripples of his actions today."

Working side by side with prominent scholars and experts from across the country, these future leaders will become rooted in the ideals of Henry Clay - leadership, conflict resolution, beneficial compromise, mediation and conciliation - and think about how they would apply the practices of his statesmanship to the issues facing our nation today.

"Our students' voices are certainly limited when it comes to socially sanctioned, public sphere discussions of national and global policy. The Student Congress participants have wonderful opportunities to explore and discuss these issues while learning about argument and compromise," said Dr. Scott Whiddon, Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Communication at Transylvania University.

At the end of the week-long Student Congress on June 26, the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation will award Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Nancy Kassebaum-Baker the 2009 Henry Clay Medallion for Distinguished Service in recognition of their leadership and bipartisan collaboration in the U.S. Senate.

"I am honored to serve as a Co-Chair of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship and to be receiving the Henry Clay Medallion for Distinguished Service," Kassebaum-Baker said. "The Student Congress' work on the Annual Index is a perfect example of how important it is that we listen carefully to a younger point of view on the challenges our country will face in the future."

The Henry Clay Medallion for Distinguished Service is presented to individuals whose life and work reflect many of the admirable characteristics of its namesake, the great Kentucky Statesman, Henry Clay. The recipients are selected by a special committee of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation.

For more information, please visit the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship Web site at

SOURCE Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship