On November 6, the Annenberg School hosted the 15th Annual Walter and Leonore Annenberg Distinguished Lecture in Communication. This year's event featured Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communication & Public Information for the United Nations, who delivered a lecture titled, "The Information Revolution: Where Do We Go From Here?"
In a witty and compelling address, Tharoor discussed the United Nations' commitment to the universal right to receive and impart information, in the context of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and the advantages and challenges of technology in the 21st Century. He highlighted the problems of the "digital divide" and the importance of creating information access for all people.
"The prospective benefits of the information age are clear; in a nutshell, we now have a powerful tool to address the disadvantages of under-development, of isolation, of poverty, and of the lack of political accountability and political freedom," said Tharoor. "But these benefits will only be made manifest when the entrances and exits to the information superhighway are open to everyone, when they are mapped and signposted in such a way as to allow everyone to know where they need to go, and when the road itself is suitable for all manner of vehicles, from sports cars to trams, and from Mack trucks to bicycles."
About the Speaker: Shashi Tharoor has led the United Nations' Department of Public Information (DPI) since January 2001. He is in charge of the organization's communications strategy, with particular responsibility for ensuring the coherence and effectiveness of the United Nations' external message. Mr. Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a Ph.D. in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he also earned two Master's degrees. In 1998, he was named by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as a "Global Leader of Tomorrow."
The evening also included a dinner with guests of the Annenberg School, faculty, and students, at which Annenberg School alumni Kate Kenski (Ph.D. 2006) gave a toast to the Annenberg family to close the evening.
"On behalf of the alumni, I want to thank Mrs. Annenberg and the Annenberg family for their continuing support and innovative development of the Annenberg legacy, a legacy that has expanded well beyond the vision of Walter Annenberg when he founded the Annenberg School in 1959 and keenly observed that 'Every human advancement or reversal can be understood through communication,'" said Kenski. "As a student at the Annenberg School, I can attest that the faculty at this great institution have taken seriously the Ambassador's mission statement and underscored to those of us fortunate enough to study with them the importance of the rights of free communication and the responsibilities that such rights require. As alumni of the Annenberg legacy, we carry the School's mission in our hearts and work to convey and enact these principles through our research and teaching."
About the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Distinguished Lecture in Communication: Established in 1992 to honor Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg, this annual event brings alumni, faculty, and graduate students together to hear from a leader in Communication. Past lecturers include Annenberg professor and alumnus Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin, Annenberg Dean Michael X. Delli Carpini, historian Jaroslav Pelikan, among many other distinguished speakers.