Last week in Washington, the Presidential Precinct hosted a global issues forum in the National Archives Building honoring the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, an event which the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles attended. Magna Carta 2015: Global Empowerment through Rule of Law featured three key topics: economic development and transparency, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and climate and conflict.
Prince Charles attended the event to aid in discussions of new approaches to these problems in light of the ideas presented by the Magna Carta, which inspired the conception of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The Presidential Precinct is a consortium which links the College of William and Mary with five other historic sites: the University of Virginia, and “four of America’s most important historic sites”: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Monroe’s Montpelier, James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland, and Will Short’s Morven. PP was founded in 2013 by James B. Murray, Jr., J.D. ’74, LL.D.’00 to promote international discussion and collaboration.
“It’s wonderful that William & Mary will be represented throughout this signature event,” Murray said. “Since the inception of the Presidential Precinct, William and Mary has been an integral partner and strong supporter, adding valuable outreach to the precinct’s growing international community of young leaders. We look forward to a day of important discussion and dialogue.”
Stephen Hanson, who serves as vice provost for international affairs and director of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies, is a member of the Presidential Precinct’s Board of Directors and moderated the panel concerning gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“These are questions which are raised by the initial document of 1215,” Hanson said. “Needless to say, the Magna Carta doesn’t address those questions in the terms of today, but in the basic settlement between the barons and the king, the question of how rule of law works to restrain royal power and individual freedom leads directly to questions that are relevant today.”
Through Prince Charles’ involvement in Magna Carta 2015, Hanson said that he hopes to rekindle connection between the College and the royal family in the context of the Presidential Precinct.
Hanson cited former College President Timothy Sullivan’s direct involvement in coordinating the Queen of England’s visit to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown.
“Former President Timothy J. Sullivan has always been able to connect with London in a very direct and meaningful way,” Hanson said. “At the time, it was a small group of people with a really big vision.”
Through their participation in W&M in Washington Program, Maizie Nelson ’16 and former Opinions Editor Daria Grastara ’17 were able to aid in the social media presence of the event, which correlated with the spring 2015 program theme: “Politics in the Era of Social Media”.
“[This theme] definitely applies to what [Daria] did for the Presidential Precinct, which was live-tweeting the event from the Presidential Precinct account with the strategies that we would learn about in class,” Nelson said.
Nelson explained that her current internship with APCO Worldwide has enabled her to get hands-on public relations experience, which has been beneficial and applicable to the work she did for the Presidential Precinct.
“We don’t really have a consensual space in the world for people to gather every year and talk about democracy and rule of law,” Hanson said. “Using the historical roots, we are recreating that kind of space. For students and faculty, being in the core of that center for oral discussion can be pretty inspiring.”