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Pepperdine Switzerland Campus Welcomes Former Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien and Ambassador Jacques Pittloud

Three female guests talking to Dean Peterson

On Friday, May 17, 2024, the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy (SPP) hosted an evening dinner and reception at the Château d'Hauteville in Vevey, Switzerland, Pepperdine’s newest international campus, featuring a lively discussion with former national security advisor and School of Public Policy distinguished senior fellow Robert C. O'Brien and the ambassador of Switzerland to the United States Jacques Pitteloud. The event convened a unique gathering of prominent diplomats, policy experts, local government leaders, and Pepperdine students and alumni. Robert C O'Brien, Pete Peterson, and Jacques Pitteloud

The conversation, later described by guests as both “candid” and “brave,” was mediated by SPP dean Pete Peterson and explored pivotal themes across three key domains:

  • The Evolving Landscape of Higher Education: Exploring the role of academia in nurturing future public leaders, the discussion shed light on challenges and opportunities facing educational systems worldwide. Pitteloud expressed concerns about the spread of free speech issues on campuses, noting their potential emergence into Switzerland and Europe at large.
  • Harnessing the Power of Technology: Amid obvious technological advancement, panelists discussed the imperative to thoughtfully navigate the challenges progressing technology brings to international governance. Discussants particularly examined the acceleration of information on social media and the impact of cyber security threats.
  • Navigating Geopolitical Uncertainties: This portion of the conversation focused on the influx of international tension, especially seen in the Middle East, and addressed the potential threats and opportunities on the current global stage.

Peterson commented on the significance of the occasion as it marked the first public event for the School of Public Policy at the Pepperdine Château. “Our vision for the new campus in Switzerland is for it to serve as a home to important and open conversations about issues of public policy—particularly in the national security arena. The conversation with two of the world's top diplomats demonstrated our commitment to thoughtful and provocative discussion about the policy and cultural issues facing the West,” stated Peterson.

Isabelle Moret speakingGuests also heard from former president of the National Council of Switzerland and current state councilor and head of the Department of Economy Innovation, Employment, and Heritage (DEIEP) of the canton of Vaud, Isabelle Moret. Moret underscored the historical significance of Pepperdine's contribution to the region's restoration, emphasizing its role as a hub for constructive dialogue and intellectual exchange.

The full conversation of “Confronting the Major Challenges Facing the West” can be heard on the School of Public Policy YouTube channel here.