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Education, Global Health, Human Freedom, Economic Growth to be Initial Focus of Bush Institute; Programs to begin in 2010

February 3, 2013

Former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura W. Bush today announced that education, global health, human freedom and economic growth will be the major initial areas of focus for the George W. Bush Institute, and programs in all of these areas will begin in 2010. The former President and First Lady also said that across all its programs, the Institute will work to empower women and foster social entrepreneurship.

The George W. Bush Institute will be part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, located at Southern Methodist University, which will also include a Presidential library archive and museum. The Institute will advance the principles that guided President Bush during his time as governor and President: freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion, and President and Mrs. Bush said they plan to devote the remainder of their lives to its work.

“This center will be the focus of our attention, the place where we pursue our passions, and the forum for our public service for the rest of our lives,” said President Bush. “The Institute will be independent and non-partisan. Every project the Institute undertakes will be designed to make an impact in the real world,” said President Bush.

Education was President Bush’s top domestic priority as governor and president, and will be the Institute’s first area of focus. “In partnership with SMU’s outstanding Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, we will bring together scholars and practitioners to pursue the next steps in education reform. We will develop research to help prepare more effective teachers, advance the principle of accountability, and enable schools to make better use of the data collected and tools provided by No Child Left Behind,” said President Bush.

President Bush announced that Dr. Jim Guthrie, one of America’s most renowned education scholars, will begin work as the Institute’s first concurrent Fellow on the SMU campus on January 1, and a national conference on education leadership will be convened in Dallas next March. He also announced that Sandy Kress, a former chairman of the Dallas Independent School District board of trustees and long-time advocate of education reform, will serve as the Institute’s Director of Education Policy Development and Outreach.

Global health will be anther area of focus for the Institute. “I believe America has a strategic interest in alleviating suffering, healing disease and lifting societies out of despair,” said President Bush. “Hopeful, healthy, and productive societies are less likely to be sources of violence and instability – and more likely to be partners in trade, prosperity and peace.”

President Bush announced that the Institute’s first Global Health Fellow will be one of the world’s foremost experts on development and disease, Ambassador and Dr. Mark Dybul. Dybul will lead a project to develop and test better ways to provide comprehensive health care to mothers and newborns in several African and Asian countries.

The Institute’s third area of focus will be human freedom. “Today, the forces of freedom and tolerance face new challenges,” said President Bush. “Once again, people on the frontlines are looking to the United States. From labor camps in North Korea, to political prisoners in Cuba and Burma, university halls in Iran, coffee houses in Venezuela and countless other places, dissidents and reformers are seeking strength and support. When America stands for liberty, they take heart. When we do not, the dictators tighten their grip.

President Bush announced that the Institute will launch the world’s first-ever Human Freedom collection, a repository of oral and written histories and documents that chronicle the work of past and present pro-democracy dissidents, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, former President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Mohsen Sazegara, a founder of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who became an advocate of democratic change, and Kang Chol-hwan, who spent ten years in the North Korean gulag.

The President also announced that the Institute’s first fellow in human freedom will be Oscar Morales Guevara, who started a Facebook movement against the FARC in Colombia. He will organize a conference next year to bring together cyber-dissidents from around the world.

Fostering economic growth, including greater energy independence, will be the Institute’s other major area of focus. “The Bush Institute will devote itself to promoting economic growth at home and abroad. One of our first projects will be to convene a task force of leading economists to promote free trade. Trade has been one of the world’s most powerful engines of economic growth, and one of the most effective ways to lift people out of poverty,” President Bush said.

Citing recent advances in drilling technology that have dramatically increased America’s natural gas reserves, the President announced that the Institute will collaborate with the Maguire Energy Institute of SMU’s Cox Business School to host a conference titled “Natural Gas Nation.” “Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that can generate electricity, power machinery and run vehicles – all domestically produced,” said President Bush.

The former President and First Lady also announced that in all its programs, the Bush Institute will prioritize empowerment of women and social entrepreneurs.

“Laura and I believe that women are one of the most powerful catalysts for social change. So the Bush Institute will include an ongoing women’s initiative to encourage and empower women in many different fields – from saving the lives of new mothers in Africa, to supporting women entrepreneurs in America, to encouraging women reformers around the world. I strongly believe women will lead the democracy movement in the Middle East, and they will have an ally in the Bush Institute.

Mrs. Laura Bush, will chair the women’s initiative. “The Initiative will focus on advancing social and economic opportunities for women and girls around the world,” Mrs. Bush said. “Research shows that when you educate and empower women, you improve nearly every other aspect of society. … The Institute will form partnerships with women educators, political leaders, health professionals, and entrepreneurs all over the world – especially from the Middle East.”

“We are excited to begin the unique work of the George W. Bush Institute,” said Ambassador James K. Glassman, the Institute’s Director. “Next year will be a busy one that will bring great minds to the Institute, and advance the principles of freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion across the world.” Ambassador Glassman previously served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, was a fellow for 12 years at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington and, before that, publisher of The Atlantic Monthly and New Republic magazines and editor of the congressional newspaper Roll Call. He was appointed as the Institute’s first Director in September.