Illustration for compelling perspectives

Illustration: Andrei Cojocaru

A Conversation with Brett Ludwig on 'Compelling Perspectives'

Lehigh's vice president for communications and public affairs talks about the university's new program to encourage open conversations on challenging societal topics.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

To help foster the exchange of diverse ideas and the consideration of alternative viewpoints, Lehigh’s Compelling Perspectives will bring prominent speakers to campus for a highly visible forum on issues of societal importance.

A discussion on national security will launch the series, with Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble '82 moderating a discussion Oct. 24 with The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, former prime minister of the United Kingdom. Brett Ludwig, vice president for communications and public affairs at Lehigh, takes questions on the initiative.

What was the genesis of Compelling Perspectives?

The conversations initially started with the concept of freedom of expression on campus. It was an open question from President Helble to Lehigh’s cabinet: If we can't explore the most important topics facing society with a broad range of perspectives on a college campus, then where can we? We built from that question to a program dedicated to the open exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Brett Ludwig

Brett Ludwig

With so many issues dividing us, why launch the series with a discussion on national security?

With rising political tensions across the world, the continued war in Ukraine and the recent release of President Biden’s national security strategy, we felt this was the right time to talk about national security in a global environment.

How do you anticipate Theresa May’s perspective to illuminate what’s happening now?

As former prime minister of Great Britain, The Rt. Hon. Theresa May led one of the largest world economies through a time of international political security challenges. Her stature within the global political environment, coupled with the fact that she brings a conservative viewpoint on a very nuanced topic, is sure to be fascinating.

While Lehigh hasn’t announced the next speaker, what can we expect?

We can expect an additional speaker to be named soon who will be of a similar prominence to Theresa May and will offer a nuanced depth of experience on the topic of national security but who will look at it from a more liberal lens.

Lehigh just released its strategic plan, Inspiring the Future Makers. How does the series fit into that initiative?

Compelling Perspectives is a tangible way to transition from strategy to action, and I think about it in terms of many of the goals included within the plan. The first is Make it New, our goal centered on innovation and leading with curiosity. Compelling Perspectives fits squarely in the delivery of that goal. We also talk about Make it Together, which is a goal focused on collaborating and connecting as a community. This program will bring together the Lehigh community to experience thought-provoking discussions on topics that matter. Lehigh brings a lot of speakers to campus.

What makes Compelling Perspectives different?

Compelling Perspectives elevates the focus and the experiential background of the speakers, and it will be moderated by President Helble. Our president believes strongly in the concept of freedom of expression on our campus, and he signals this by being front and center in this series. I think President Helble’s leadership demonstrates the level of strategic importance that Compelling Perspectives will deliver to our ability to create an environment on campus where we embrace a wide variety of perspectives.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

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