The World Affairs Council of Maine’s annual Sumner Bernstein Forum for International Understanding hosts prominent international figures to reflect on their societies and their perceptions of the United States. The Forum honors the memory of Sumner Bernstein (1924-2002), a distinguished attorney and Director of the Council with a life-long interest in international affairs. Each forum addresses the important lesson drawn from the terrorist attacks on America of September 11, 2001, that our society must better understand foreign cultures and their perception of us. The Bernstein Forum enables international figures to reflect on their societies and their perceptions of the United States. Past Bernstein Forums have been conducted by representatives of Afghanistan, Brazil, Israel and Korea.
Sumner Bernstein (1924-2002), a distinguished attorney, was a Director of the World Affairs Council of Maine, a member of numerous Board committees, a creator of many important corporate relations for the Council, and a counselor and friend to countless members. In 2001 he received its Bea Chapman Minott award for distinguished service. His firm, Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer and Nelson, has been one of the Council’s most generous supporters since the Council’s inception.
Sumner Bernstein had a life-long interest in international affairs, particularly the Middle East vision of a secure state of Israel living at peace with Arab neighbors progressing toward a more democratic and developed future. He was at home intellectually with the many dimensions of international affairs, including culture, history, and politics. He was a strong supporter of Seeds of Peace.
It is said of Sumner Bernstein that no matter how esteemed his position and reputation, he never lost his concern and interest for the "common man." He was supportive of those less fortunate, working to provide legal services for them and contributing his own time and expertise to their needs. Young people also represented an important interest for him, reflected in his weekly reading sessions with elementary school students from immigrant and refugee families.
The Bernstein Forum is free and open to the public, seeks the involvement of young people, and its record is available to the public including Maine schools. Proceeds support future forums and other Council programs devoted to the same purpose.
2010 Program: Adil Najam
2010 Bernstein Forum
Climate Change, Development and Human Security
on May 6, 2010
Ludke Auditorium, University of New England, Portland Campus
"Global citizen Adil Najam has gone from sharing a Nobel Peace Price to starting a blog where Pakistanis can share views peacefully." Boston Globe Moderator, February 18, 2008
Adil Najam came to the US from Pakistan eighteen years ago to pursue an engineering degree at MIT. He left behind a very successful career as a national environmental expert, having been tapped by the Pakistani government to help draft the country's first national environmental policy. Currently, Adil Najam is Director of Boston University's Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. He studies high profile issues like the war on terror and global warming, but also less-covered subjects like senior care in poor countries and new trends in philanthrophy. In 2007, he shared in the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Al Gore and to scientists on an international climate change council. A multifaceted person with a global perspective, Najam hosts a popular web blog (10,000 hits daily) encouraging dialogue among Pakistanis (www.Pakistaniat.com) and he is often sought out by national news organizations such as NPR and CNN for his expertise on the Muslim world.
2010 Speaker Adil Najam