Dean Nicholas Baldwin

‘The Global Imperative’

On the day before President J. Michael Adams unveiled the global vision for Fairleigh Dickinson University, Wroxton College Dean Nicholas Baldwin set the stage with a poignant address describing the importance of adopting a global mindset. His speech, delivered during the annual Academic Convocation on September 26, stressed the necessity of “Waking Up to the Global Imperative.”

Baldwin opened by saying that “the world economy is in a period of rapid and dramatic change, and the question of just how we will connect to this new world is the single most important issue facing us.” He added that “we face an array of circumstances, situations and conditions — economic, scientific, technological, political, sociological, environmental and communicative — different from those faced at any previous time in our history. Moreover, the changes affecting us are not confined to any one area of the globe, but stretch everywhere.

“The way the world is developing and will continue to develop means that nations and people are becoming increasingly interdependent. Those who are not only unaware of — but more particularly have no contextual understanding of — other places, peoples and ways of doing things will fall further and further behind.”

Furthermore, said Baldwin, “The battleground of the 21st century will pit narrow, selfish national focus against global awareness and tolerance. In a world where information and images are routinely transmitted across the globe, we are all regularly and increasingly going to come into contact with others who think differently, act differently and live differently from ourselves. Some will find this disturbing and dangerous and seek to take refuge from it. We must resist this reaction and, rather, welcome such differences and embrace the cultural complexity of the global village, the contours of which we can as yet only dimly see. For globalization is not incidental to our lives. ... It is the way we now live.

“The real problem for the future is not internationalism and its consequences; rather it is insularity. It is insular thinking that limits aspirations, resents outsiders for their differences and shuns different ways of doing things. ... So, the message must be the need to raise one’s horizons, to take an international perspective. That is the simple, basic imperative for our students’ futures; indeed for all our futures.”

Baldwin is a lecturer and tutor in government and politics. A regular speaker in both the United Kingdom and the United States, Baldwin has written extensively on politics. His publications include Mastering British Politics (1999 and 1996); contributions to The House of Lords: Its Parliament and Judicial Roles (1999) and The Law and Parliament (1998); as well as numerous articles and papers. He is an active member of the prestigious “Study of Parliament Group” as well as an associate of the Centre for Legislative Studies. Baldwin also has been active in political life, having been a candidate for Parliament and special assistant in the House of Lords. He has been at Wroxton College since 1985.

Baldwin stressed the importance of spending time immersed in different cultures. “If approached with an open mind, it can be an exhilarating, personally rewarding and intellectually stimulating experience, and will enable one to interact successfully with different cultures.” He quoted Mark Twain who observed that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” Baldwin then noted, “An understanding of other places, peoples and ways of doing things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the Earth all one’s life. One must broaden one’s horizons.”

For Baldwin, immersing oneself in a different culture is “a way to confront and deal with things first-hand, to learn and to grow, not only on an educational level but also on a personal one. Individuals will develop their own sense of awareness, of independence yet of interdependence.”

The complete text of Baldwin’s address can be found on the Web.

Pointing out, as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, that “every forward step involves the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals,” Baldwin said, “We must urge our students not to be complacent, apathetic or lethargic; not to become blinkered or selfish, turning their backs on their fellows and the world at large. Rather, we must urge them to blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to make a difference. ... Any individual can leave his or her footprint in the sands of time.”

He concluded, “The goals are both possible and attainable through personal effort. The possibilities are too enormous, the need too great, the stakes too high, for our students simply to turn their backs. We must do what we can to ensure that they make a commitment to become involved and make a difference: it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

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