Bill Clinton told thousands in Greencastle on Friday that the 21st century is "full of promise" despite problems ranging from authoritarian regimes to climate change.
The former president spoke to about 5,000 people as part of a lecture series entitled "Our Common Humanity."
Clinton told the crowd that this is an "amazing time" of scientific advances like the discovery of planets orbiting other stars, but the world is too unequal, too unstable and the modern way of life is unsustainable.
He points to the deaths of millions of people from preventable diseases, the worldwide financial crisis and global warming as examples.
"You are entering a world that is more interdependent than in any period in human history. All the world's borders, even those that are accompanied by fences and walls, look more like nets than walls," Clinton said. "The trick is for all of you to figure out how to build up the positive forces of our interdependence and reduce the negative ones."
A line of people hoping to see Clinton speak snaked through campus starting very early Friday.
"I'm sixth in line, and I'm not budging. I don't care how cold it gets, I don't care if the hail comes in, I'm here," said Lina Parr. "He's such a powerful leader, and I think it says a lot that, even though he's no longer currently the president, he's still making such a big difference in the world."
Adam Bishop, a junior at North Montgomery High School, persuaded his mom to drive him from Crawfordsville to hear Clinton speak. He was first in line.
"Even if you don't agree with what he did while he was in office, you can't argue that he's not a brilliant man," Bishop said.
Mike Gray's son brought his dad to see Clinton speak as a birthday surprise.
"I didn't know what I was coming to today until I got here, standing outside two hours freezing, and he told me what it was. I'm tickled to death," Gray said. "(My son) did great. He can come home and eat anytime he wants now."
Friday marked Clinton's first visit to DePauw. Former President Richard Nixon visited the university in 1957 and former Vice President Dan Quayle spoke on campus in 1990.
Dawanna Stubbs said she wanted to experience history.
"I have never seen President Clinton in person. I thought he was a wonderful president, did a good job during his presidency and this is part of history," she said. "He's here speaking in Indiana, and I want to be a part of that.
Before the speech, Clinton and Democrat John Gregg met with about 15 people who donated $5,000 each to Gregg's campaign for governor.
Copyright Copyright 2011 by TheIndyChannel.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.