All-star line-up at 14th annual STAR-TIDES

The 14th annual demonstration of the global STAR-TIDES knowledge-sharing network, coordinated by George Mason University’s new Center for Resilient and Sustainable Communities, was held virtually October 20-22.

Mason President Gregory Washington kicked off the "Converging Approaches to Sustainable Resilience" capabilities demonstration by highlighting the broad scope of STAR-TIDES and how the university’s three institutes, Sustainable Earth, Digital InnovAtion, and Biohealth Innovation, align with the World Economic Forum’s view.

"It is a tribute to the foresight of George Mason's leadership over many years that the university is positioned to adapt to the many dimensions of this changing, accelerating times and lead in teaching and research related to them,” Washington said.

This is an example of how Mason’s thought leadership in these areas recognizes that the physical, digital, and biological worlds are fusing.

The audience for the event included members of the national security, human security, emergency management, and sustainable development communities. The overall theme focused on how the complex, accelerating challenges that the world faces require coordinated approaches.

The 22 separate events and 10 parallel breakout tracks focused on diverse areas including technologies, narrative and storytelling, and ethics. Students interacted with professionals for advice on job search approaches, as well as practitioners from areas such as global health, geospatial information, emergency management, development, and sustainable resilience during a career track session.

The conference featured 25 speakers and approximately 70 panelists, including several national and international figures.

During his keynote address, Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist, discussed the fast, fused, deep, and open forces that increasingly affect our lives.

Lt. Gen Michael Plehn, USAF, Military Deputy Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, and Claire Melamed, PhD, CEO of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, presented keynotes on the second day of the conference.

Participating exhibitors shared examples of how they applied their capabilities in real-world situations. These included perspectives on Navy operational energy, low-cost shelters, power grid cost reduction, advanced disinfectants, and supply chain risk management for open source software, as well as a compelling example of how STAR-TIDES network members helped rebuild a medical clinic in South Sudan.

STAR-TIDES is a global knowledge-sharing network that focuses on building sustainable resilience, promoting human security (freedom from want and freedom from fear), and creating life-changing social and economic activities. These roles have evolved from original support by the U.S. Defense Department’s TIDES (Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support) program to four defense-related mission areas: building partner capacity, humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster relief, defense support of civil authorities, stability and peace-keeping operations.

Follow-up activities will continue throughout the coming year.