| Al-Andalus performed music and dance at the conference gala. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.
LEXINGTON, Va., March 24, 2011 – More than 250 scholars, students, policy makers, government officials, and professionals from business, the military, and the media are taking part in the “711: East Meets West” conference now in its second day in VMI’s Marshall Hall.
An opening session yesterday, with an address by Spanish Ambassador to the United States H.E. Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo was followed by two plenary sessions, “Diplomacy and Democratization” in the morning and “History, Culture, Religion, and Arts” in the afternoon. Retired Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace addressed conference participants, including the 1st (senior) Class in VMI’s Corps of Cadets, and scholars presented academic papers in concurrent sessions that will resume today. A gala in the evening offered Spanish and Arabic food and music, documentary films, and a talk by Jacob Bender, director of Out of Cordoba.
Today’s events include a special session on Egypt and two plenary sessions, “Economics and Trade” this morning and “Hope for the Future” this afternoon.
The conference banquet will begin at 6 this evening and will feature a talk by author Stephen Prothero.
In opening the conference, VMI’s superintendent, Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, noted its “unanticipated timeliness” and the expectation that it would serve to inform both the conference participants and the Corps of Cadets on the issues behind “the important and dramatic changes currently sweeping the Middle East.”
The conference is the sixth presented since the opening in 2009 of the Center for Leadership and Ethics on topics of urgent and national importance. “These conferences,” said Peay, “support the Institute’s commitment to informed outlook on the great issues affecting our nation and the world, and they serve to prepare our cadets for future roles as citizen-soldiers and leaders.”