By Rosemary Evans, Principal
This week I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Fareed Zakaria speak at the Rotman School of Management. Dr. Zakaria is host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS" - CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show, a Washington Post columnist, a contributing editor to The Atlantic and a New York Times bestselling author.
He presented a cogent analysis of the changing dynamics of international relations today. He summarized the foreign policy framework developed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and how it has dominated western politics since the end of World War II. FDR was committed to developing a durable peace through the mechanisms of an empowered United Nations, and an explicit process of decolonization as well as the development of open trading relationships. He believes that this worldview is facing significant challenges today. His perspective was questioned by some members of the audience which started a fascinating conversation. The evening involved a sharing of ideas and points of view, and reflected the thoughtfulness of the presenter and the audience as well as the commitment to open discourse.
However we view the development of world events today it is important that students develop the critical thinking skills, compassion and commitment to active citizenship that will ensure that they are capable of assuming a thoughtful stance, an appreciation of multiple perspectives and the curiosity to seek to understand issues deeply. Dr. Zakaria’s most recent book is entitled In Defence of a Liberal Education (W W Norton, 2015). In this book, he challenges the current predisposition toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the expense of the humanities.
Zakaria argues that the core of a liberal arts education is learning how to write, speak and learn. He contends that “When I begin to write, I realize that my "thoughts" are usually a jumble of half-baked, incoherent impulses strung together with gaping logical holes between them.”. The process of writing helps us to clarify our thinking. Learning to speak well provides youth with a sense of agency the ability to express their thoughts clearly and to make a difference. Finally learning how to learn ensures that students “ learn – to read in a variety of subjects, find data, analyze information”. UTS is a school that deeply appreciates the liberal arts and is committed to critical inquiry while in no way diminishing STEM disciplines.Our graduates have the opportunity to pursue a broadly based, balanced program which values all facets of human intellectual endeavour.