Zakaria: A global education for a global age
Yale University in 2008. (Getty Images)
April 11th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Zakaria: A global education for a global age

Last week I wrote in op-ed in the Yale Daily News in support of Yale's new college at the National University of Singapore.  There has been strong disagreement among members of the Yale community over whether Yale should open a campus in Singapore, which has limits on freedom that we in the West strongly disagree with. Here's a portion of my response:

"Singapore is not a liberal democracy, though it is not so different from many Western democracies at earlier stages of development. It is not the caricature one sometimes reads about. Singapore is open to the world, embraces free markets and is routinely ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

"It has also become more open over the last ten years. In fact, it is to enhance and enrich this process that Singapore has invited Yale to help create a liberal arts college. There will be differences in perspectives among students and faculty, foreigners and locals, but that makes it an ideal place to engage with issues of democracy and liberalism. I can imagine a fascinating seminar on democracy that would be much feistier in Singapore than at Yale precisely because there will be those who take positions quite critical of what is received wisdom in the West.

"Singapore has a great deal to learn from America, and NUS has a great deal to learn from Yale. That's why they have engaged in this collaboration with us. But it is a form of parochialism bordering on chauvinism — on the part of supposedly liberal and open-minded intellectuals — not to see that we too, in America and at Yale, can learn something from Singapore. In fact, together, Yale and the National University of Singapore can teach the world a new way to think about education in a globalized world."

Read my full op-ed here.

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Topics: Education • From Fareed • Global

soundoff (14 Responses)

    Well, the Western Mind-set becomes the window of opportunity for those who stick with it. But, we are reached to the time where we are being denied to speak from our own Minds.
    If we look around, most of US are followers instead of using our own ways. In our daily lives, we seen people with electronics plugged in on their ears. Billboards and other pre-planned entertainments are controlling our free-will thinkings. We become like, Human robots.

    Ironically, total control are taking places against those who would like to become Millioner,... like others.
    Now, technically, Yale University is implanting its own way against Singaporean Students.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:31 am | Reply
    • Little whirlwind

      I don't know what to think about it.

      so called test meritocracy are usually another word for class system, where only those allowed to pass will pass, the other will simply not having been given the answers keeping it all in the family.

      I was troubled to find Singapore is almost like a dictatorship. That Lee family been ruling almost since the autonomy, with only a short interuption when a friend ruled.

      Also it seems like another of those rich peoples haven, a trick for US millionaires and billionaires to get double nationality and put thir taxes there while they benefit from here. It's a probably a tax haven for the rich, yet another method of taxes evasion

      So forgivve me if I am a little sceptical.

      On the other hand I guess opening that campus can allow to better understand that mentality perhaps.

      Now, I'm not sure studying confucius is 100% a good thing, but at least studying the real confucius will allow to identify where the chinese are editing the original to turn it into propaganda.

      But overall confuscius was still what I would call a philosopher locked inside a dictatorship. I am certain he was restricted in his capacity to express his thoughts.

      Overall I'm more impressed by ideas in religions like budhism, hindhuism, Islam and Judaism. I'm christian, so I'll spare you christianity from the list.

      The fact is, perhaps because of the successive conquests of the mongols and manchus, the east had it's advanced stopped dead in it's track; much like the west during the medieval era. But we two other advantages. On one side, greek and romans had toyed with ideas like the republic. and on the other side core christian values eventually led to humanism.

      It's sort of funny because all this is also part of budhism, but for some reason it didn't yield results in the east. Well that reason might be indeed mongols and manchus. europe was spared that. and we ended up beating the vickings. And by pure luck even the Mayars settled down. (They could have beaten us from what I read)

      So, personaly I think that the east is sort of backward in political evolution, and we got little to learn from it (in term of social system) because we already had all thoses authoritarian constructs in antiquity.

      Don't get me wrong. In it's appearance confuscianism seems good. However in practice, historicaly, it was used in the imperial courts along with taoism. the chief obcession of chinese emperor was immortality. and what confucianism define as good isn't nececarily what we ean in the western world, but more a matter of 'good behavior' much like in 18th century england, where you don't ask what goes beyond closed doors.

      At the end the Han dynasty got quite corrupt, because the emperor became little more than a puppet as the generals and eunuch held real power.

      Also the tests of the imperial bureaucy consited mostly of poetry !!!

      That said, doesn't mean confuscianism cannot be turned into something good. But as far as I know it fail to go in depth about good and evil and what altruism means. You know one can corrupt concepts and think flogging a slave is for his own goods, not too long ago, in the southern states, this happened in the us, done by verry christians peoples who believed black peoples had no souls.

      Even today peoples love to misuse religion, but usually you can find a verse from the bible or the koran that shut them up. It's not that hard to diffuse a jihad or a crusade with the right words.

      But how do you difuse confuscianism gone amok, I really don't know

      I looked up a quick refresher on confuscianism

      core values are:

      1. Ren (Humaneness)
      2. Yi (Righteousness or Justice)
      3. Li (Propriety or Etiquette)
      4. Zhi (Knowledge)
      5. Xi (Integrity)

      As you can see many of thos principles are troublesome,, starting with#3 Etiquette, which is a core value of any morchic or dictatorial system.

      #4 Knowledge is neutral, because there is no implication here of how you should use the knowledge

      #2 is equaly troublesome in light of the other two. What is justice. It can be whatever the law say, and in an authoritarian system, that is a recipe for disaster. Justice is only a good principle as long as it is supported by other solid values

      #5 is the danger point. because integrity isn't a value. It's a goal. It's a goal to remain true to your values. If your values are rotten, then you stay trully evil. To the defense of confuscianism, the only rotten value is Etiquette. It is the value that gave limitless powers to the emperor – or whoever control an equivalent function (Like the eunuch and latter the generals in the late Han era). No comments about what confuscianism + Ghenghis Khan would produce. That would be terrible to behold. Fortunately he never lived that long. Got shot by a stray arrow.

      In my opinion, removing integrity and etiquette would make confuscianism much better
      replacing them perhaps with principles from western humanism like compassion
      Actually confuscianism got Humaness (Ren) but it's not clear why historicaly it doesn't seem to have ever been used.
      I must confess that confuscious was writting this toward emperors, and that he did note that the whole thing might fall appart if the leader lacked humaness.

      Now confuscianism also got secondary values

      #6 Zhong (Loyalty)
      #7 Xiao (Filial piety)
      #8 Jie (Continency)
      and plenty of others

      Again #6 and #7 are bound to cause problems.
      You see your father abuse your sister, what do you do... Filial Piety... don't do a thing ...
      You president (Nixon) fake the election, what do you do... Loyalty ... shut up ....

      Those are just some of the problems with confuscianism, and why it never really got past the borders.

      The system was set first and foremost to serve the emperor, and keep the court behaving
      It was bound to only do good under a perfect emperor

      Religious principles on the other hand tend to be a lot more solid.

      The problem with religion is verry different

      1. over time a big hierarchy tend to incrust itself, often try to discourage peoples from reading the original book,
      and instead read their own commentary (often totally unrelated) in order to manipulate the mob

      2. big charismatic figures can emmerge, and we all know what they can do !!! (I mean the worst case scenario)

      No one will ever convince me that the borgia pope or cardinal de richelieu were ever trully catholics. they were only self servings.

      the same is true of many caliphs, and that is why big movement like the almohabs and amoravids happened. Islam got literaly cut in little pieces, just like christianity.

      Another anoying thing is that often so called religious peoples care less about the principles of their religion than about converting peoples or arguing or going to the church .... that last part is trully funny ... because Jesus said 'you hearth is your temple' and mohammed said 'the ground under your feet is your mosquee' ... totaly hillarious ... clearly those guys never read their books !!!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
      • Rz

        Little whirlwind (?), please, give me some time to think about it all.

        April 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  2. Don Crawwford

    Has anyone ever considered the idea, and I'm very serious here, of disbanding and donig away with the stock market?
    This idea would require some very serious and rightfful thinking by the smartest men in America. The first thought would be "that's crazy," but is it really? All the people employed in a make believe econoomy, riches only on paper, etc, wouldl have to find real jobs in the ccommunity in, manufacturing, production of real goods and needed servces. Over the years in our society, more and more busienses have been created to support and service the servers; in other words, make up jobs and middle lmen to middle men, etc. having no real significance or adds nothiing in the real world.
    The stock market lends itself to temtation of the greedy and those who contribute nothiing to the whole of humaniity; only lining their own pckets. More and more Ponse schemes and income on investments that only make the rich, rikcher.At first, it sounds like a crazy idea, but is it really? Think it through.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • PlusPlusMinusMinus

      Don crawford,

      of course the stock market, millionaire & bilionaires, and even money must eventually disapear

      but it has to be done in the way that don't get them buying russian nuclear suitcases, their own private army and go totally nuts over it – of course only the real crooks would go nuts like that –

      such a process might take a hundered years

      you still need a way to evaluate capabilities, performance, and needs. of course eventualy we may trash the whole boss-employee relationship when everyone learn to manage their own micro-business

      It will never be 100% like that, because until crime is 100% eliminated, you still need hierarchical and coordinated police forces. thought I guess a model of guys in power armor iron man style is possible some day

      April 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply
    • Rz

      Don, we could discuss stock market stories and issues endlessly. And yes, somethings should be banned/outlawed (short sales should be illegal, and I have even expressed this in writing at the highest level) and some areas definitely lack control/regulation (revoking Glass-Stegall was insane). But the simple rule of thumb is, if you don't want to lose any money in it, then stay out of it.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  3. urgent

    Fares Raslan MD

    خبر عاجل وهام جدا جدا ::::::
    تقوم المخابرات العامة في دمشق بأخذ كميات من الدم الفاسد من المشافي الحكومية الى افرع السجون حيث يتم حقن المعتقل بكمية 5 سم من هذا الدم وعلى اثرها يتوفى وفاة طبيعة /يرجى النشر لجمعيات حقوق الانسان/
    By: شبكة اخبار حمص العدية (عاصمة الثورة السورية)
    reliable sources from my collegues syrian doctors in syria .
    the intelligence services in syria are collecting spoiled blood and injecting forcefully prisioners with 5 ml of it to let them die naturally ...please share to human rights watch and all human organizations around the world ....
    also they are sending 50 truks aday since 3 months ago those trucks going to hizboallah south of lebanon , full of weapons , cash, arms, rockets, and some chemical weapons please take a note this is an eye wotness ....why no body is doing any thing to those thugs , war criminal shiia thugs?

    April 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  4. jal

    Sometimes there are things to unlearn. I believe Moses wandered the desert for 40 years because he and many others needed to forget some stuff. To unlearn the bad things that were no more.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • Rz

      Yes, erase the memory and cleanse the soul over time. Personally though, I wish he could have parted the Atlantic and led Israel to live on Cuba.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Connectivity between universities, along with the ease of accessing information will be a mutual benefit.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      The future of our economies depend on the abilitiy to compete in the globalised world, in which knowledge and know how are key.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Reply
      • Rz

        Jvh, survival of the fittest is a law of nature. But for goodness sake, there are some areas/instances where we are almost competing ourselves to death. And people have become so specialized in one thing that they literally almost know nothing else. In nature, the weak, young, injured, dumb, and old often become prey, but there is almost nothing easier than a fish out of water, or conversely, a cow in a tank of hungry pirhannas. Additionally, in some cases, knowledge and know how in the wrong hands has proven to be a very deadly tool. All I'm saying is we must first worry about securing the future, before securing economies. Of course the two are strongly related much like having a job to support a family. But without a future there is no economy.

        April 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
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