How to Engage Younger Audiences in Foreign Policy

Business leaders explain how the public and private sectors can better understand and inform younger generations’ perspectives, especially in foreign policy.

Air Date: June 14, 2022

Moderator: Marjorie Chorlins, Senior Vice President, European Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Sarah Heck, Head of Entrepreneurship, Stripe, Alexandria Maloney, Senior Membership Manager, The Truman National Security Project, Olivia Seltzer, Founder, The Cramm

Given that the world currently has the largest youth population in history — 2.4 billion people are aged 10 to 29 — it’s crucial for business leaders to learn more about these emerging generations. For instance, they’re more globally and digitally connected, support international trade and cooperation, and face new threats like disinformation, disruptive technologies, and climate change.

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s InSTEP: Emerging Leaders in Foreign Policy event, leaders and influencers shared ways to better understand younger generations’ perspectives and set the nation up for a more prosperous future.

We Must Educate Generations About Current Affairs

In 2017, Olivia Seltzer, Founder of The Cramm, began waking up early every day to read the news, interpret the information, then draft relevant stories that were easily digestible to those in her generation. She’d then share the stories across multiple platforms, like email, text, and social media — thus creating The Cramm.

“You can’t change the world unless you know about it,” she said. “If you don’t know about something going on in the world, you can’t exactly do anything to try to fix it or to try to help the people being impacted.”

For the past five years, Seltzer has used her passion for writing to leave a lasting impact on the world and her generation. She and her friends visited local college campuses, malls, and other locations to ask for people’s email addresses and phone numbers so she could sign them up for The Cramm and widen her reach.

“Over the years of writing The Cramm, I’ve realized that there’s this sort of assumption in the news … that we all have knowledge of the major events that have happened over the past century or so,” Seltzer continued. “And unfortunately, a lot of us don’t have that knowledge, which can make it really difficult to understand what’s happening in the world today.”

To address this issue, Seltzer decided to write a book to provide her generation with “the background to the current event shaping our world today.”

We Must Welcome and Involve More Diverse Voices in Foreign Policy

It’s important to develop a more representative talent pool to achieve better foreign policy outcomes, but we must make underrepresented communities feel more welcome.

“This definitely starts with our values … as an organization, as institutions, and as individuals,” said Alexandria Maloney, Senior Membership Manager of The Truman National Security Project.

“I think that’s definitely the starting point when asking ourselves as the leaders of organizations, current and rising, how can we be more welcoming to not only underrepresented communities but our nation and communities as a whole,” she said.

Maloney believes involving more diverse voices will help improve foreign and national security policy.

“But I like to argue that the diverse talent pool is not always enough,” she continued. “We may have a diverse talent pool, but are there still barriers of entry for prospective candidates that organizations need to address?”

We Must Address and Dispute Disinformation

Newer generations have adopted the mindset: “If I’m not part of the solution, then I’m part of the problem.”

As a result, “I think that they are getting very engaged,” said Sarah Heck, Head of Entrepreneurship at Stripe. “On a daily basis, I deal with entrepreneurs from around the world, and on those days, I feel the most hopeful about the direction of the world.”

Unfortunately, given the amount of misinformation circulating, many people are misled to believe untrue stories.

“There are a lot of … people out there from across generations that don’t necessarily have the skills to differentiate between something that’s true or something that’s disinformation,” she added.

Heck stressed the importance of insulating ourselves from the “ill will” and false narratives we inevitably encounter.

“I wouldn’t paint Gen Z or Millennials with a broad brush, but I do think we need to have new ways of communicating with this generation … but also realizing that they are very thoughtful about these issues,” she said.