Otto Koester - August 22, 2012
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center
Mansfield Scholars Program and Global Challenges
This week between three and four thousand freshmen will be coming to The University of Montana to begin their college education, and a good number of them have already enrolled in the new Global Leadership Initiative that was launched earlier this year. As part of the University’s general education requirements, as many as 240 new freshmen have registered for one of eleven Global Leadership Initiative seminars being offered this fall. These seminars are the first step in the Initiative’s four-year program designed to help the incoming students develop the knowledge and skills they need to become leaders in the 21st century.
In conjunction with the Global Initiative, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center has spent the last twelve months developing a new undergraduate program that speaks directly to the its goals while also furthering the spirit and legacy of Senator Mansfield and his wife, for whom the Center is named. Indeed, when it comes to global leadership, it’s difficult to find a Montanan who exemplifies this quality more vividly than Senator Mansfield. An orphaned child who, after serving in World War I, worked as a mucker in the Butte copper mines, Mansfield returned to college, became a professor of Asian history at The University of Montana, was elected to Congress, served as the longest-serving Majority Leader in the history of the U.S. Senate, and was a valued advisor to several presidents, widely admired American statesman and skilled international diplomat. As Fred Greenstein, Director of the Program in Leadership Studies at Princeton University, has written, Mansfield’s life is an “eye-opening account that illuminates not only Mike Mansfield’s character but also his little-known behind-the-scenes advice to presidents on the Vietnam War, the U.S. opening to China, and many other episodes in modern American history”.
After long months of planning, we are pleased to announce that beginning this semester, and working closely with the Global Leadership Initiative, the Mansfield Center will launch a new program called the Mansfield Global Leadership Scholars Program. The Center will award partial scholarships to deserving graduates of Montana high schools interested in pursuing a career in either domestic or international public affairs. As many as 15 partial scholarships will be given to incoming freshmen who enroll in one of the Global Leadership Initiative seminars that will be taught by Mansfield Center faculty and staff. These young scholars will commit themselves to following an interdisciplinary course of study that addresses important aspects of globalization and leadership in their sophomore, junior and senior years.
The Mansfield Scholar freshman seminar will be called “Global Challenges in the 21st Century” and introduce the participants to the complexities of key current global problems and issues. It will be followed by a sophomore year in ethical leadership and public affairs. During their junior year, each Mansfield Scholar will engage in study or a service activity abroad, preferably in East Asia, and inn their senior year, completion of the program with a significant capstone project that integrates his or her previous coursework and international experience.
Standing at the beginning of a new century, today’s students face a world confronted with unprecedented challenges, many of which require study, work and living experience across political borders and cultures. Among the greatest of these is the continued rise in global population, which currently stands at seven+ billion and is predicted to increase to nine billion over the next 40 years -- most of this increase occurring in the developing world. Another major challenge, of course, is global warming and climate change. Both issues will put tremendous pressure on existing energy resources, agricultural systems, food stocks, and water supplies. The ability to access and distribute these resources, and the need to develop new ones, is likely to become ever-more paramount. The risk for many developing countries is that poverty will continue to prevail, that most Millennium Development Goals will remain unmet, and that developed countries will become increasingly affluent without re-thinking the economic assumptions underlying why the Millennium goals aren’t met. At the same time, the quest for access to resources is likely to trigger violence and bring about human rights abuses, cyber threats and political extremism. Collectively, these challenges will severely test national and international legal, policy and diplomatic frameworks.
With an emphasis on diverse perspectives, careful sifting of reliable research and evidence, and an ethical assessment of the prospects for national and transnational solutions, the purpose of the Mansfield Scholars program is to produce graduating seniors who have a foundational understanding of some of the major complexities facing human society, both at home and abroad. These issues include: political terrorism; the global political economy, international capital markets, trade, banking crises, unequal distribution of wealth, and issues of economic and social justice; the ability (or inability) of governments to respond to restive minority and ethnic groups; demands for human rights; the potential problems related to nuclear energy as a possible alternative to fossil fuels; new directions in biotechnology, health and human life; and the true nature and consequences of war as well as constructive approaches to achieving peace.
Obviously not every student will be expected to have an in-depth command of each of these issues or problems. However, by using a team-taught approach and the assignment of individual faculty mentors, the graduating Mansfield Scholars will have the background and preparation needed to begin a career or graduate studies requiring knowledge of the globalization process and its impacts on different regions and localities around the world.
The University of Montana’s most recent Strategic Plan seeks to address the importance of international and global education by stating that the University must “educate students to become ethical persons of character and values, engaged citizens, competent professionals, and informed members of a global and technological society.” The Global Leadership Initiative and Mansfield Global Leadership Scholar Program are a big step in this direction. We owe it to ourselves and the rest of the world to give these students the best global education UM can offer.
Thank you for listening. This is Otto Koester of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.