Yo Blair: The Next Ivy League Flat Earther?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 3/10/2008 01:54:00 AM
You may be aware that former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has become my co-religionist. Late last year, his longstanding interest in the Catholic faith became official when he became one with the popery. It's a great religion; I can't complain much about it myself. Anyway, while visiting the ever-so-informative Bloomberg site, I came across this tidbit:
Today, Yale University announced that Blair will teach a course in the next academic year that will ``examine issues of faith and globalization,'' the university, located in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a statement.
I'd like to hear Blair reconcile his faith with supporting the Iraq invasion on dubious grounds. Turning to the Yale site, we get this:

Yale University is pleased to announce the appointment of Prime Minister Tony Blair as the Howland Distinguished Fellow for the next academic year.

Mr. Blair will lead a seminar at Yale and participate in a number of events around the campus. The course in which he will participate with Yale faculty will examine issues of faith and globalization. His efforts at Yale relate to the work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that he will be launching later this year.

The Deans of the Yale School of Management and Divinity are working with Mr. Blair on finalizing details of the program.

The Howland Distinguished Fellowship was created in 1915 to recognize a “citizen of any country in recognition of some achievement of marked distinction in the field of literature or fine arts or the science of government.” Among those who have been Howland Distinguished Fellows in the last century are the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, journalist Sir Alistair Cooke and stateswoman Indira Gandhi.

It's become something of a fad with elite schools to feature celebrity lecturers to show the trustafarians and their folks that they're getting value for their money. My favorite case in point is of that famous flat-earth society member Thomas Friedman teaching globalization at Harvard. To me, it's a sad reflection of how celebrity trumps real knowledge creation. Although they are far removed from pop consciousness, serious academics like Edward Leamer of UCLA and Pankaj Ghemawat (also at Harvard) easily dispel the globaloney peddled by the likes of Thomas Friedman. As long as the protectionists and xenophobes I blog about day in and day out don't give it a rest, you can rest assured that, yes, the world is lumpy. Capital, goods, and people do not move around the globe with the freedom imagined by Friedman and others who believe in the hyperglobalization thesis.

I am interested in what sort of thing Blair will teach. If he talks about how to resolve contemporary faith with the challenges of globalization, then I'd be interested in what he has to say. OTOH, if he recycles Thomas Friedman's thoughts, I think we'd all be better off without. It can go both ways as this Globalist piece penned by him suggests. What will it be, Tony?

In the late 20th century, the world had changed, the aspirations of the people had changed, we had to change. The world is on the move again — the change in the early 21st century even greater than that of the late 20th century.

The challenge we face is not in our values. It is how we put them into practice in a world fast forwarding to the future at unprecedented speed.

We believe in solidarity. We believe in social justice, in opportunity not for a privileged few, but for all — whatever their start in life. We believe in tolerance and respect, in strong communities standing by and standing up for the weak, the sick and the helpless.

Values don’t change, but times do. And now, as before, our values have to be applied anew in changing times.