David Miliband (b. 1965) is the former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, in which post he served from June 2007 to October 2010. Secretary Miliband was educated at Haverstock Comprehensive School in London. After graduating with first class honors in philosophy, politics, and economics from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, he completed a master’s degree in political science in 1990 at MIT, where he was a Kennedy Scholar. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theoretician Ralph Miliband and Marion Kozak, and his brother is the Right Honorable Edward Miliband MP, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
Steven Chu (b. 1948) served as secretary of the United States Department of Energy from 2009 to 2013, and was co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. Dr. Chu was born in St. Louis, Missouri, into a family of scholars who placed an enormous value on education. Both his father and mother studied at MIT, in chemical engineering and economics, respectively, and they nurtured intellectual curiosity in their children. As a young child, Dr. Chu built model airplanes and warships, graduated to Erector Sets, and later, spent his school lunch money on parts for homemade rockets that he constructed with a friend. He matriculated to the University of Rochester, where he developed a love for physics and mathematics, and from which he graduated in 1970. In 1976, after completing his graduate and postdoctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Chu spent nine years at Bell Laboratories. The atmosphere at Bell Labs during that period (1978–1987) was one “permeated by the joy and excitement of doing science,” according to Dr. Chu, and his work there led to the laser cooling and trapping of atoms for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
The news these days from Africa isn’t all bad. In fact, in some places, it’s downright hopeful, as Rwandan President Paul Kagame (b. 1957) attests. “Our continent is no longer all about violence and disease and human disasters that scarred many African countries in recent decades,” says Kagame. “We are now becoming a continent of opportunities.” There are those who doubted Rwanda could “constitute a viable state,” says Kagame, but 14 years after bloody genocide and civil war, his country has managed an astonishing revival.
Tom Brokaw (b. 1940) characterizes the transformation of the world by digital technology as a second “Big Bang,” a time of great possibility, but also of danger. This revolution is being advanced not by “a small collection of monkish wonks working in a secret lab” but by a vast and ever larger population ranging from inventive teenagers to military analysts in the Pentagon, says Brokaw, who feel “power at their fingertips and in the bowels of their servers.” They believe that the world is limited only by their imagination. Yet, cautions Brokaw, “life is not a virtual experience. If we develop capacity and leave out compassion, what is the reward? What are the consequences if speed overruns reason?”
For those seeking reassurance that American politicians take climate change and clean energy seriously, look no further: Jeff Bingaman (b. 1943) wraps his arms around this enormous issue, and sets forth an ambitious national agenda to address the challenge. Bingaman sees a new attitude emerging in Washington. Politicians have begun to grasp that reduced dependence on foreign oil is not enough, and that today’s energy challenge requires an overhaul in the way the entire world produces, stores, distributes, and uses energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This urgent, immense challenge is happening “in a world of growing demand for energy as billions of people are rising out of poverty.”
Edward Kennedy (1932 - 2009) believed that promoting politics at the expense of all else “breeds cynicism and erodes trust, but also threatens the foundations of democracy.” Yet he saw an antidote to the problem and turned to institutions like MIT, which harbor “a questioning spirit that seeks to find and follow truth.” He remained optimistic that science and public policy would once again become partners.