Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tony Blair Discusses Globalization & the Future of Higher Ed

Tony Blair may no longer be making news as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but his life post-politics has continued all the same. Mr. Blair has been teaching at Yale University here in the United States and contemplating the relationship between globalization and higher education. On Sunday, BBC News covered an interview with Mr. Blair on that topic.

Columbia Global Centers promotes and supports the engagement of the university world-wide, so we were obviously excited to hear Mr. Blair optimistically speak about emerging trends in higher education. Throughout the interview, he makes it clear that globalization will impact universities and already has. He argues, “It is now up to institutions of higher education to engage directly on these issues - not only their students, but current world leaders in politics, finance, and international diplomacy, along with the general public.”

He sees a more open and equal future where university content is available online for free and universities of developing nations in South America, Asia, and Africa improve the quality of their education, gaining prestige and influence amongst Western academic peers.

The world he describes is different from the world today, but not hard to imagine. As countries rise in economic influence, it is only natural to expect a similar transition for their universities. Beyond that natural rise, prominent, established universities like Columbia can and do reach out, build long-term relationships, and generate a new international dialog. If Mr. Blair is correct (and it appears that he is), we can all look forward to an exciting and enriching future for Columbia University and higher education world-wide.


Topics discussed in the interview:

OpenYale- Yale University’s catalog of coursework and lectures offered free to the general public.

Technologico de Monterrey (Mexico) - Mr. Blair frequently referenced this university for its international engagement and its focus on increasing access to its courses online.

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith and Globalization Initiative – The Foundation’s “international network of leading universities exploring the relationship between faith and globalization and highlighting the implications to the wider world.”

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