The Lincoln Academy participants in the 2019 Camden Conference (from left) senior Chloe Tian, sophomore Scott Petersen, junior Gentilis Hu, junior Adlai Nelson, and Social Studies teacher Kelley Duffy.

By Adlai Nelson

This past weekend, four students from Lincoln Academy attended the yearly Camden Conference. The Camden Conference is a “nonprofit, non-partisan educational organization whose mission is to foster informed discourse on world issues” that takes place in Camden, Maine. Each year the conference chooses a topic and offers various sessions relating to that topic. This year the topic was the question “Is this China’s Century?” This question echoes the sentiment felt across the world as China rises to become a world power. During recent years, this discussion has entered the national spotlight as tensions have risen regarding free trade, authoritarianism, and sovereignty.

The Conference was spread over three days, and brought the opinions of twelve experts from China, The US, and other countries to discuss the rising power of China. Among the experts were Ma Jun, director at one of the largest environmental organizations in China, Indira Lakshmanan, executive editor at the Pulitzer Center, and Martin Jacques, Author of international bestseller, When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and The Birth of a New Global Order. A wide range of topics were discussed during the conference including issues of surveillance, sovereignty, and politics. Some of the presenters discussed the mechanisms for economic growth in China that seemingly contradicted typical Western thinking. Some of the presenters discussed issues more prevalent in today’s news, such as the trade negotiations and intellectual property theft. Some of the presenters even discussed fundamental differences between Chinese and western culture.

The conference served to dig past attention-grabbing headlines to give attendees a better idea of underlying issues regarding international relations. This goal of providing a bedrock of understanding not only applies to China but to all other areas of local, national, or global significance. Next year’s Camden Conference topic, “The Role of the Media in Global Affairs,” promises to be just as informative and useful as this years topic. All of the video recordings of the 2019 Camden Conference will be posted on the Camden Conference website, under the archive section.

The Camden Conference, true to its mission, fosters informed discourse on world issues, not only among our communities, but among our students. It is not only entertainment for a weekend, but it provides methods of informed discussion that can last a lifetime. In recent times it has become more important than ever to stay informed about current issues, and although we may not all have the time or ability to research every single topic in contemporary affairs, it is our duty to be well informed citizens. Organizations like the Camden Conference make staying informed that much easier and this above all is why it is worthwhile for students as well as community members to attend. Attending the Camden Conference was beneficial for me and my classmates because it exposed us to new perspectives and showed us how to reconcile different ideas. These skills will continue to help us both in and out of school for years to come.

Adlai Nelson is a junior at Lincoln Academy who attended the Camden Conference.