He's known as the young gun of foreign relations. Thursday night former advisor to the Secretary of State and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, Jared Cohen, brought his message of technology and foreign policy to South Dakota.
“It couldn't happen at a better time,” Jill Matson said as she waited to walk into Augustana College’s Elmen Center to hear Cohen speak. “Two days after the election results are in,” Matson said.
Cohen headlined Augustana College's Boe Forum on Public Affairs. The forum has hosted dignitaries from General Colin Powell and Desmond Tutu to Madeline Albright.
Cohen, 30, is the youngest presenter in the Forum’s 17 year history.
“The past couple of years we've had some older ones and they said it was harder to communicate with them. But they really enjoyed the talk with him,” Augustana College student Courtney Moore said.
“It's always fun to gather for a Boe Forum because we know we're going to learn something tonight,” Augustana College President Rob Oliver told the crowd as he introduced Cohen.
When it comes to foreign policy and technology, Cohen's youth gives him credibility. And it's Cohen's experience as Advisor to the Secretary of State and Member of the Council on Foreign Relations that makes him an expert on technology as it relates to democracy and world peace.
“I've looked at it as a writer and a student. I've looked at it advising two Secretaries of State. And now I look at it from the world's largest search engine,” Cohen said.
And his message here: if you think technology isn't changing things, you're wrong. The number of mobile devices is exploding globally. Cohen said the greatest increases are those countries facing great social and economic challenges.
“4.8 billion people in the world own a tooth brush. 5.2 billion people in the world own a cell phone,” Cohen said.
Cohen served as the youngest person ever on the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff from 2006 to 2010. He now works for Google as the director of Google Ideas.