The third installment of the John & Lawrence Bonzani Memorial Law Lecture will feature Binghamton University alumnus Eric Schwartz, ’79, president of Refugees International, as its main speaker, holding a discussion on refugees and surrounding political issues.
The John & Lawrence Bonzani Memorial Law Lecture is an annual event, created in 2017, which aims to help educate students who are interested in pursuing careers in law. It covers topics such as career exploration and development, law school, specialization within the field and current events facing the field of law. It was established with a donation by alumnus Andrew Bonzani, ’86, and Marie Christine Bonzani in the memory of his brothers, John and Lawrence.
Leah Joggerst, ‘02, director of constituent relations in Harpur College and one of the main organizers for the lecture, said Schwartz was chosen as a speaker because he is an example of a successful alumnus who went on to become a leader in human rights issues.
“I don’t think I need to tell you, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock, humanitarian, human rights issues, refugee crises around the world, including the crisis at our borders present immense challenges in today’s world,” Joggerst wrote in an email. “I think many people on this campus and in the community have concerns about these issues and want to gain a better understanding of what’s happening and how these issues are being addressed.”
Refugees International is an independent humanitarian organization that advocates for displaced people. According to Joggerst, it mainly works to promote solutions to displacement issues around the world.
Before Refugees International, Schwartz worked as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration from 2009 to 2011, was a senior human rights and humanitarian official at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and served as the United Nations deputy special envoy for tsunami recovery after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
For the past two years, the Bonzani Lecture series has featured law professionals who gave tips on how to be a successful lawyer and law student. Schwartz, while discussing his career in government and nonprofit work, will lead a broader discussion on refugee issues different countries are currently facing.
Stephen Ortiz, an associate professor of history, is encouraging students in his College-in-the-Woods learning community class to attend the lecture.
“Our responses to this crisis — as individuals, as nations and as members of the global community — can make a huge difference,” Ortiz wrote in an email. “Hearing from people at the forefront of the issue such as Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, is a great place to start to understand it.”
Kira Hawes, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies, plans on attending the lecture so she can learn more about what the refugee situation currently is, as she said the issue has stopped getting as much news coverage recently.
“I think the refugee crisis was a very popular issue in the news a year ago, and nobody found a solution to it, so everyone moved on and stopped talking about it,” Hawes said.
The lecture will take place at the Casadesus Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building on Wednesday, Sept. 18 starting at 5 p.m.