Building Upon Our Network: A Vision for the Future of the ELP

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by Dick Beahrs

It has been an extraordinary opportunity to attend each of the ELP programs over the last 13 years.  Each year has had its special successes but I have always felt that the real value of the program wouldn’t be known for at least ten years from the creation of the initiative.  It would take at least that long to fully benefit from the connections, relationships and collaborations, which we all seek.  Leveraging your assets and those at Berkeley to optimize impact has always been a major objective of the program.  With 500 ELP Fellows from virtually 100 countries, we now have a unique opportunity to enhance our partnerships and work together more closely.

In the weeks and months ahead, there will be a concerted effort to enlist your input on how this can be achieved. A first priority is for everyone to have a full awareness of and access to the resources available to them both in California and overseas.  In turn, all of us at Berkeley need to be fully cognizant of what each ELP Fellow is currently focused on and what you perceive your needs to be in order to optimize the impact of your work.

Over the course of the ELP you have gained a degree of awareness of Berkeley programs ranging from the International Business Development (IBD), the Blum Center, the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) and the Master of Development Practice (MDP).  One of the easiest ways to reap benefits from your ELP participation is to ensure that you are all fully aware of how to access, collaborate with and leverage those assets.

Over time there have been a number of new components, which have been institutionalized by the ELP on a limited basis, and there are others which have been contemplated.  Your input is essential to help refine priorities.  The following represents a partial list, but provides a good sense of the initiatives proposed by many ELP Fellows:

  1. Specialized ELP Programs – ELP training is generally broad with a multidisciplinary focus.  There is strong sentiment for developing a specialized program each summer on a specific topic ranging from Climate Change to Population.  This would allow participants to dig deeper on a subject with focus and intensity, and would encourage ELP Fellows to return to Berkeley and enhance their relationship with their peers from the Alumni Network.
  2. Overseas Training – Altogether 500 Fellows have come to Berkeley.  Larger numbers could participate if training were held at regional centers in collaboration with your work. Everyone's input on ideal locations, subject-matter, etc. would be essential to moving this concept forward.
  3. Regional Meetings – Soon after the ELP was launched, a luncheon was held in Jakarta, Indonesia to allow ELP Fellows to meet other Berkeley alumni.  Funds were raised to support participation by other Indonesians.  If similar meetings could be held annually on a regional basis, ELP Fellows could be joined by Berkeley professors to focus on topics of particular interest.
  4. Kingman Small Grants Initiatives – Kingman Grants are awarded annually to teams of ELP Fellows who are collaborating with Berkeley faculty on initiatives in their home countries.  There is a strong feeling that this concept should be expanded.  For example, each year for the past decade, consulting teams from the Haas Business School International Business Development program have worked with ELP partners to develop business plans and analyze unique challenges around the world. Other Kingman Small Grants Initiatives funded through the ELP are listed here.
  5. Foreign Opportunities for Berkeley Students – Sustainable Development is a subject of great interest to Berkeley students and many participate in academic programs where they are encouraged to work overseas as part of their study.  They would benefit greatly by working with ELP Fellows (at your direction) on your priority projects. We need to explore how to facilitate that collaboration.

One of the great strengths of the ELP since its inception is the extraordinary knowledge and the ideas, which each ELP Fellow has contributed to Berkeley.  I have detailed concepts in this blog, which I know can be refined by you in ways that can make them much more impactful and responsive to your needs.  Furthermore, I strongly believe that you will have many other thoughts, which can help take the program to greater heights.  All of us in Berkeley are anxious to commence this dialogue.  It is impossible to express my admiration and appreciation for all that you are accomplishing.  Many of your successes have been achieved under the most difficult of circumstances. You make us all proud!

Richard “Dick” Beahrs (Class of ’68) with his wife Carolyn, established CNR’s Beahrs’ Environmental Leadership Program. He was the first recipient of the College of Natural Resources Citation Award in 2003 and is currently Co-Chair of the CNR Advisory Board Development Committee and a Trustee of the UCB Foundation. He is the retired former President of the Courtroom Television Network and Comedy Central. A true Cal supporter, Dick, Carolyn and their four children all have Berkeley degrees.