Friday, June 14, 2013

Scholars for the 21st Century

Commencement Address [extended remarks]
International Scholar Laureate Program
Shanghai, China

To understand our world - we need to know China.

To anticipate the future of our world – we need to know China.

During our time in China we learned that China is one of our oldest civilizations, but is a relatively young nation. Its robust economy has created amazing new cities and the world’s largest middle class, but the benefits of this growth is not shared by all, especially rural residents and the elderly.

China’s expanding role in the world was showcased this week with President Xi’s trip to the Americas and his meeting with President Obama. We have learned how China’s contested land and sea boundaries may lead to regional conflicts and to tests of global power.

Our visits with officials, scholars, and average people laid the groundwork for a lifetime of exploring this complex and important part of the world.

A key part of our experience was our travel managers and guides. They opened our eyes and their hearts. Let’s give them the recognition they fully deserve!

The most pleasant surprise for me was tapping the collective wisdom of our International Scholar Laureate Program Scholars. Over 200 hundred scholars from a dozen nations focused on Business, Diplomacy & International Relations, Engineering, Medicine and Nursing. We learned from your diverse perceptions and gained insights through your eyes.

You also provided us with amazing moments of revelation that ranged far beyond our China program. My own conversations with ISLP scholars included:

- Learning about the complexities of Bolivian politics while hiking the Great Wall.

- Learning the intricacies of White House state dinners while riding a rickshaw through the Hutong District in Beijing.

- Assessing the legal reasoning of Supreme Court Justices William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia on a bus ride back to the hotel.

- Discussing journalistic ethics while exploring the Museum of the Terra Cotta Warriors.

- Learning about the Australian legal system while flying into Shanghai.


- Reviewing the history of race relations in America’s military while walking the Nanjing Road in Shanghai.

These are just a few mind-expanding interactions with our incredible scholars.

These experiences brought into vivid reality ISLP’s philosophy of placing the student at the center of learning and building the skills that you need to succeed in college, in the workplace, and throughout life. Success in our digitally and globally integrated world of the 21st Century requires skills like self awareness, goal setting, public speaking, active listening, teamwork, cross-cultural awareness, and critical and creative thinking—all skills upon which our programs focused. Your diversity was your strength as drawing upon all disciplines allows us to think holistically enough to truly understand our present and prepare for our future.

I thank you on behalf of all ISLP’s faculty advisors. You made these programs richer and our lives fuller.

We all look forward to the life-long friendships developed during this special time together.

Thank you.

[For information on the International Scholar Laureate Program visit]

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