April 13th, 2010, 03:58 PM
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University of Toronto to reveal new School of Global Affairs
It’s Janice Stein’s dream and Peter Munk’s money: the vision of a global plaza reconfiguring Toronto’s downtown Bloor Street West and becoming the hub of Canada’s conversation with the world.
On Tuesday, the University of Toronto will announce its new School of Global Affairs. The school is the product of the largest single philanthropic gift in the university’s history – $35-million from gold-mining magnate Mr. Munk and his wife, Melanie – plus $25-million from the Ontario government.
Prof. Stein, who heads the parent Munk Centre for International Studies established by a multimillion-dollar gift from Mr. Munk a decade ago, said the new school “fulfills a dream for me. It says we can be among the best. We don’t move out into the world and engage. We lack a culture willing to take a risk. We have to stretch our necks.”
The school will be quartered in a century-old stone Georgian-style building at the corner of Devonshire Place and Bloor, the former headquarters of the Meteorological Service of Canada. The building’s one-time observation tower will be girdled with a flashing pixel board, announcing the world’s major news stories to the street and sidewalk bordering the university’s stadium, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Royal Ontario Museum.
The high-profile visibility of the school – which will take in its first 40 students this summer and is now conducting an international search for a director – makes it as interesting as the scholarly work that will be expected of it.
It is located in the heart of one of the world’s most multicultural cities, near haute couture shops, art galleries, museums, the Royal Conservatory’s celebrated new concert hall and the Ontario legislature. Its illuminated ticker tower, with content provided by a major media outlet, will make the school an attraction on its own and be a symbol, said Prof. Stein, of Canada looking outward to the world. Moreover, she said, the school is restoring the building, metaphorically, to its original purpose: as an observatory.
The university says the school – which initially will offer a master’s degree in global affairs and later will add undergraduate and doctoral programs – will join an elite cadre of international academic institutions such as the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, the London School of Economics and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. It will have partnerships with graduate international studies schools in Shanghai, Tokyo and Mexico City.
Its students will be required to go outside the country for four months to work with a global corporation, or global institution such as the United Nations or a global non-government organization and learn how to build international networks. The school will produce Canadians, Prof. Stein said, who will have thought about global society and can come back to Canada and build global bridges.
In a telephone conversation from Switzerland, Mr. Munk said, “In a bipolar world, it was easy to believe in and support American values. We’re not in a bipolar world any more. The world has come to question more and more American values and the American way of doing things.
“Canada has a unique opportunity to step into the shoes that America has vacated, and I think that requires an elite group of highly educated, globalized Canadians who can be the spokespersons of every aspect of globalization. I don’t mean just trade, or democracy, or multiculturalism … but all the things Canada stands for, from health care down to the fundamental rejection of any kind of corruption.”
University president David Naylor said it’s critical for Canada to have a stronger presence in the world as emerging giants India and China take a bigger role in global affairs.
“As a corollary, if as a major educational and research institution, we don’t have a world-beating school that has eyes and ears on the world and connections to a whole host of smart people everywhere thinking about how countries can act in the broader global affairs sphere, then we’re disadvantaged and our students and faculty are disadvantaged.”
I dropped you off at the train station, And put a kiss on top of your head
I watched you wave, I watched you wave
Then I went on home to my skyscrapers, Neon lights and waiting papers
That I call home, I call it home