The Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs officially launched the Young Leaders Dialogue with America program in February 2010 with a two-week U.S. Study Tour for 47 young European leaders from 12 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The study tour included meetings with a range of experts, professionals, and students; interactive and professional networking events; and cultural opportunities reflecting the diversity of America. Participants were divided into three subgroups which highlighted major themes identified by the U.S. Department of State: New Challenges in Transatlantic Security, Climate Change and Environmental Issues, and Tolerance and Diversity.
Young leaders in the New Challenges in Transatlantic Security group traveled to New York City where they examined transnational crimes (piracy, cybercrime, organized crime, human trafficking, and other human rights violations); preventing nuclear proliferation; building cooperation for joint European – U.S. security operations; and the future of NATO. Young leaders in the Climate Change and Environmental Issues group traveled to Denver and Boulder, Colorado where they examined private and public efforts to deal with climate change and other environmental issues. Specifically they explored and discussed green technologies; economic and trade options; local, state, and national environmental policies; and the role of public opinion in advancing public efforts to mitigate environmental damage. Young leaders in the Tolerance and Diversity group traveled to San Francisco, California where they examined how U.S. schools, communities, law enforcement agencies, and businesses deal with immigration and ensuing cultural and religious diversity and tolerance issues. Participants also learned about civil rights, inclusion and integration, interfaith dialogue, diversity and cultural sensitivity training and education, and youth engagement.
Building upon the success of the initial U.S. Study Tour, IIE implemented the Young Leaders Dialogue Conference in Prague in November 2010 for 50 American and 150 European young leaders, including the Europeans who participated in the February 2010 U.S. Study Tour. Conference participants heard from keynote speakers, attended professional development workshops, and engaged in cross-disciplinary panel discussions across the three dialogue themes. In addition, conference participants were invited to propose follow-on projects that include cross-disciplinary and transatlantic partnering. A total of $90,000 was made available by the U.S. Embassy Prague to fund winning group projects.
In June 2011, IIE conducted the Young Leaders Dialogue Vienna Workshop in Vienna, Austria. The goal of the Vienna Workshop was to support, sustain, and build upon positive outcomes of the Young Leaders Dialogue with America program (February 2010) and the Young Leaders Dialogue Conference in Prague (November 2010), with specific emphasis on the group project grants announced following the Conference in Prague.
Finally, in March 2012, the Young Leaders Dialogue Charleston Forum was held. The purpose of the Forum was twofold. First, group project teams shared the scope and outcome of their projects with senior policymakers in Washington, DC. Second, an intensive two-day forum was held in South Carolina in partnership with the College of Charleston and The Citadel aimed at addressing key issues related to transatlantic security, environmental issues, and diversity. The YLD Charleston Forum included high-level meetings with representatives from the U.S. Department of State and provided opportunities to engage with leaders in local, state, and federal government, the military, private enterprise, the nonprofit sector, and academia. The Charleston Forum continued the dialogue on critical issues of the 21st century that began with the proceeding Young Leaders Dialogue Projects in the U.S, Prague, and Vienna.
The objectives of the Young Leaders Dialogue with America program are to:
- Increase participant knowledge and understanding of common transatlantic issues through dialogue with American and European peers, experts, and thought-leaders.
- Promote strong transatlantic leadership through collaboration and partnerships based on mutual respect and understanding.
- Create lasting linkages among participants.
- Facilitate the development of collaborative group projects to be implemented by participants.
- Increase understanding of the United States and its people.