University of Calgary

CNN host Fareed Zakaria captivates Haskayne crowd with optimistic worldview

UToday HomeFebruary 27, 2013

By Kathleen Crowley

Fareed Zakaria speaks to members of the audience after his talk at the BMO Financial Group Forum in Scurfield Hall.  Photo by Riley BrandtFareed Zakaria speaks to members of the audience after his talk at the BMO Financial Group Forum in Scurfield Hall. Photo by Riley BrandtKnown as an in-depth interviewer who has been face-to-face with the world’s most important leaders and decision-makers, Fareed Zakaria­—a Harvard PhD and CNN foreign affairs host—sketched out a condensed version of modern economic history to explain his sense of optimism about the global system, in a speech at the University of Calgary Tuesday.

Zakaria, addressing a capacity audience at the BMO Financial Group Forum in Scurfield Hall, said part of his optimism stems from what he calls “the rise of the rest,” the surging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).

He noted that in the crisis year of 2008, 100 per cent of economic growth was in emerging markets. He sees reasons for continued optimism in the sustainability of the emerging economies as BRIC nations transition to new phases with higher per-capita GDP.

Considered one of the world's foremost foreign policy analysts, Zakaria is also a TIME Magazine editor-at-large, Washington Post columnist, and New York Times bestselling author who recently published The Post-American World.

Zakaria said he also sees positives in a trend toward what he calls global integration rather than disintegration. He cited Germany’s bailout offer to Greece in return for certain reform as an example.

He said what perhaps makes him most optimistic is the human response to global problems. Zakaria described decentralized responses, where thousands of individual people, organizations and governments each contribute to change by adjusting behaviour in some way in response to a problem. “Humans respond and rise to the challenges.”

Asked to comment on education, Zakaria said he is a proponent of everyone learning math, but also learning how to think and solve problems rather than accumulating data. He advised finding joy in learning. “Learning is a lifetime fascination for me. My bet is the best business people view challenges as fascinating and think, ‘I can’t believe I am part of that adventure.’”

The final question of the day got round to the energy industry and Zakaria’s thoughts on the future of the Keystone pipeline. He thinks the pipeline will go through, and that environmentalists have made it a symbolic issue, eclipsing reason. “With Keystone it may be a matter of letting the passion die down and letting rationalism come to the fore.”

Zakaria’s visit was made possible through collaboration with the Bon Mot Book Club which brings leading thinkers to Calgary. The event was sponsored by the Jarislowsky Fellowship in Management program and the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business.

The purpose, according to the business school’s interim dean, Jim Dewald: "Student experience is critical in today's competitive education landscape. At the Haskayne School of Business we believe exposure to leading thinkers is part of that experience. Our students will long remember their small audience connection with one of the great commentators of our time."


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