Highlights: The Future of Globalism

Speakers at the panel, "The Future of Globalism."
Speakers at the panel, "The Future of Globalism." From left: Asia Society Vice President of Education Tony Jackson; Greater Houston Partnership Vice President of International Investment and Trade Horacio Licon; Rice University President David W. Leebron; Asia Society Global Co-Chair Ronnie Chan; and Westlake Chemical Corporation President, CEO, and Director Albert Chao. (Jessica Ngo/Asia Society)

NEW York, April 11, 2017 – “Should educators be charged with not only developing global workers but also global citizens?”

This was the leading question at “The Future of Globalism: Educating for Global Competitiveness” at the Asia Society Texas Center on Thursday, April 6, asked by Asia Society Vice President of Education Tony Jackson. Jackson moderated a panel of four leaders who spoke about the need to prepare students for global citizenship and global competitiveness in a rapidly changing world, including Ronnie Chan, Co-Chair of Asia Society Global and Chairman of Hang Lung Group Limited and its subsidiary, Hang Lung Properties Limited; Albert Chao, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Westlake Chemical Corporation and its limited partnership, Westlake Chemical Partners, LP; David W. Leebron, President of Rice University; and Horacio Licon, Vice President of International Investment and Trade at Greater Houston Partnership.

Jackson introduced the topic with another question: “Everything we do at the Center for Global Education is in response to the question, ‘How has the world changed, and how must education change to respond in turn?’” The Center for Global Education has been working over the last 15 years to prepare all students to succeed in the twenty-first century.

Chan touted Asia Society’s work in education in response, quipping: “How come nobody thought about global education until Asia Society started talking about it?”

Referencing the event title, Jackson asked the panelists if the term ‘global competitiveness’ represented a useful lens for discussing global education, as opposed to the more frequently used ‘global citizenship.’

Leebron responded that he thought it made sense to reference it as a lens, but not as the only lens: “I think it would be a mistake to say that the reason that we’re interested in a global perspective on education is because of global competitiveness—it’s a reason, and it will convince some people, but we need to think more holistically about global education in general.”

Chao focused on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and noted the United States’ lackluster performance in the most recent assessments: “To compete, you have to be ahead of the pack.”

Licon countered, “We’re really focused on rankings right now. But what we’re forgetting in discussing competitiveness is globalization requires collaboration.”

Leebron iterated the importance of committing to education if the United States wants to compete in a global world: “Competitiveness historically starts with innovation, which historically starts with education and research.”

He continued, suggesting that we can more effectively address the need for global education by flipping the idea that globalization must fit into traditional subjects: “What aspects of globalization aren’t relevant to education? That would be a very short list.”

Should schools be charged with developing global citizens then? Leebron responded that, while the term ‘global citizen’ is somewhat problematic, the fact is, “We are all citizens of the globe. We live in a global world. You can build that wall as high as you want—you can stop immigration—it doesn’t allow you to escape globalization.”

What it comes down to, Leebron continued, is “empathy and understanding.”

Chao agreed: “We have to learn to live together and be ready to work together and succeed. Not just race or religion—people. We all have differences and commonalities. We must work together to succeed.”

This event was hosted by the Asia Society Texas Center and Center for Global Education in conjunction with the tenth annual National Chinese Language Conference.

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