Future of Work Conference

Lehigh to Host ‘Future of Work’ Conference Thursday

Education, labor and industry leaders to converge at Lehigh as part of an around-the-globe centenary celebration of the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Leaders in education, industry, labor and public administration—including the United Nations assistant secretary-general for economic development Elliott Harris, and the executive director of the International Labor Organization for North America Kevin Cassidy—will converge at Lehigh on Thursday, April 11, to discuss the diverse challenges shaping the future of work.

The daylong conference, a collaboration between Lehigh University-United Nations Partnership and the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise in the College of Business and Economics, will open at 9 a.m. in Iacocca Hall on Lehigh’s Mountaintop campus.

The conference marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Labor Organization (ILO), now a United Nations agency, and is part of an international, 24-hour cycle of happenings around the globe to celebrate the anniversary.

Titled “An Equitable and Sustainable Future of Work,” the conference at Lehigh will feature a keynote by Harris, chief economist at the UN, a presentation by Cassidy on “A Human-Centered Agenda for the Future of Work” and three panel discussions on work-related issues. One focus will be on the power of university partnerships to empower youth and community to contribute to a future of work where individuals and communities thrive.

"We're delighted the International Labor Organization chose Lehigh as the U.S. node for this round-the-world, 24-hour celebration of its centenary,” said Professor Todd Watkins, executive director of the Martindale Center.

“The sponsorship and collaboration between the ILO and the Lehigh-UN Partnership and the Martindale Center was able to attract a remarkably high-profile set of keynote speakers and panelists,” he said. “It's a terrific opportunity for the Lehigh community and surrounding regions to engage with some of the top minds and innovators tackling global issues in the future of work. It’s an event we're pretty proud is happening at Lehigh."

The language that created the International Labor Organization was written into the Treaty of Versailles on April 11, 1919. The organization sets international labor standards and promotes social protection and work opportunities.

Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost for international affairs at Lehigh, will moderate a panel on “Effective Lifelong Learning Systems at Work” with panelists Bill Gaudelli, dean of Lehigh’s College of Education; Magnolia Movido, senior vice president of GlobalMindED; and Gary Bolles, Future of Work, Singularity University.

Kevin Cassidy, director and representative to the Bretton Woods and Multilateral Organizations, ILO Office for the United States, will moderate a panel on “Transformative Agenda for Equality at Work.” Participating will be panelists Jennifer Rosenbaum, U.S. director of the Global Labor Justice; Serena Fong, vice president, Strategic Engagement, Catalyst; and Lis Meyers, managing associate, Gender and Social Inclusion, Nathan Associates.

Robert Trent, professor of management at Lehigh, will moderate “Improving Global Value Chains for Decent Work” with panelists Gerard Oleksiak, secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry; Eric Biel, senior advisor with the Fair Labor Association; Ben Davis, director of international affairs with the United SteelWorkers, and Carlos Busquets, director of public policy with the Responsible Business Alliance.

The full conference agenda and scheduled times for speakers and panel discussions can be viewed here.

The conference will close with a reception at the National Museum of Industrial History, a Smithsonian Institution-affiliated museum housed in a former Bethlehem Steel facility.

Follow #ILO100Lehigh on Twitter for the latest updates on the day's events or watch live here

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

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