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The Carter Presidency: Lessons for the 21st Century
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Topics and Goals: Lessons Learned
More than being a mere retrospective, this conference will use the Carter presidency as a springboard for a forward-looking, critical assessment of how lessons learned from that administration can be applied to our nation’s current issues and challenges. The goal is to offer a forum for generating advice to contemporary policymakers through a robust, dynamic and bipartisan discussion of issues central to the Carter administration that continue to be relevant today. For example:

Energy Policy:
Energy issues were central to the Carter administration, as they are today. Facing impending energy shortages, President Carter declared “the moral equivalent of war” to fight America’s dependence on foreign oil. He proposed energy conservation, increased fuel production and the development of alternate forms of energy. He created a Department of Energy, installed solar panels on the roof of the White House and implemented a comprehensive energy program. The solar panels and key elements of his energy program were dismantled after he left office. Thirty years later, where
do we stand?

Islamic Fundamentalism:
To some Americans today, an awareness of Islamic fundamentalism began with the September 11 attacks, but the Carter administration suffered a major blow when followers of the fundamentalist Muslim cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized the American embassy in Iran and took 66 Americans hostage on November 4, 1979. Fifty-two hostages were held for 444 days. The hostage crisis did much to bring down the Carter presidency. What can be learned from the Carter administration’s mistakes? And what should later presidents have learned from the experience about potential threats to U.S. security?

Human Rights:
Jimmy Carter stressed how highly he viewed the issue of human rights when he announced his candidacy for the presidency in 1974, and again in his inaugural address on January 20, 1977. America’s commitment to it, he said, “must be absolute,” adding: “We will not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at home.” Carter’s approach to human rights was a controversial component of his foreign policy, but the issue resonates today.

The Middle East:
President Carter has long had a particular interest in the Middle East. One of his greatest successes as president was mediating a peace settlement between Egypt and Israel at a historic 13-day retreat at Camp David in September 1978. When President Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, the Nobel Committee’s statement noted that his role in the Camp David Accords alone was a great enough achievement to merit the Peace Prize, although it also went on to highlight many of his other accomplishments. The Middle East remains a major problem facing policymakers today. The time is ripe to review the experience of the Carter administration to see what lessons can be applied to the current world stage.

Many other issues confronted by the Carter administration will also lend opportunities to offer “lessons learned.” These include environmental policy, China, fighting inflation, dealing with the threat of nuclear proliferation and regulatory reform.

Quite aside from these and other specific policy areas, there are also lessons to be learned from how President Carter structured his White House staff, dealt with Congress, and interacted with other parts of government and the media.

And, of course, any discussion of the Carter presidency must also consider the role of First Lady Rosalynn Carter, an active partner in policymaking and a long-time champion of mental health reform.

Town Hall Meeting with President and Mrs. Carter
Mahler Auditorium
The Georgia Center for Continuing Education
The University of Georgia
Saturday, January 20, 2007
4:00–5:00 p.m.

Join us for a lively Town Hall Meeting featuring President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Hear the Carters’ answers to questions submitted by the audience. This event will afford a unique and candid opportunity to see the former president and first lady in person, as well as the chance to explore a diverse range of topics about the Carter presidency, life after the White House and much more.

This event is free and open to the public with open seating. Early arrival is recommended, as the event will begin promptly at 4 p.m.

Commemorative Dinner
with President and Mrs. Carter

The Classic Center
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Reception: 6:30–7:00 p.m.
Dinner: 7:00–9:00 p.m.

You are cordially invited to a dinner commemorating the 30th anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s inauguration as the 39th President of the United States. Mr. Carter will provide a keynote address which will serve as the capstone of two days of bipartisan dialogue on his presidency and lessons learned for the 21st century. This event offers the opportunity to hear from President Carter in person and to recognize his significant contributions and achievements since leaving public office.

Reservations are $150 per person and must be secured in advance.
You do not have to be registered for the conference to attend.
Seating is limited. To reserve your place, use the reservation form [pdf] or register online.

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University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

This website was developed in January 2007 by the UGA Office of Public Affairs for a conference commemorating the 30th anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Some links may not work and some information may be outdated. This website is maintained as a historical record of the event.


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