Greg King – Thucydides Trap: America vs China
Patricia Cross – Economic Issues in the Arctic
Dan McCabe – Doors – An Architectural Element
The Academy’s Presenting the Presenter session is always one of my favourite Forums. Not only do we get to hear about a range of topics in one sitting, but we are also privileged to hear a trio of speakers from our own ranks who engage the audience in different ways; presenting well-researched topics that tweak one’s brains as well as one’s imagination.
This session fit the model to a “T”, with two topical presentations and one that made you think in a creative way.
Greg King’s presentation on China was very timely – so timely in fact, that things are changing daily. This no doubt required Greg to add additional insight and “proofs” since he first made the presentation in the China workshop.
My take-aways from Greg’s presentation – the thoughts and ideas that I will research and think about in more detail included:
• Does a rising power that threatens to displace a ruling power mean extreme danger ahead? (the Thucydides Trap of the session’s title)
• Is the USA’s time as global architect and guarantor coming to an end?
• Is China really the reason why millions of Americans haven’t had a raise in some time?
• What will be the global impact of China’s Belt & Road initiative; will it be the new “Silk Road”?
• How will Trump’s protectionist stance and his assumption that trade wars are easy to win impact the economic growth and policies of both world powers?
• What is the ideal balance between economic security and national security? And is the US blurring the two intentionally when dealing with firms such as Huawei?
• And – perhaps most intriguing – with strong personalities leading both world powers, how will the cult of personality change the approach, process and outcome?
In her presentation, Pat Cross clearly and succinctly summarized an issue that many of us do not fully understand – the importance of Canada’s Arctic and its peoples to Canada’s sovereignty, development and culture. She presented a balanced view of threats and possible solutions (with both pros and cons) and challenged us to think about the issues ourselves. Issues and questions such as:
• The internationalization of the Arctic
• Is the Arctic the common heritage of mankind, as China believes?
• Is the US really a threat?
• Are we willing to make the investments necessary to recognize the potential in areas such as shipping, tourism, fisheries, mining, art, hydrocarbons, and renewable energy? And can we balance our concerns about the environment while so doing?
• Can technology – through applications such as virtual schools and digital jobs be the solution?
• How will our approach / solutions impact the culture and way of life of the indigenous peoples?
Pat’s thought-provoking presentation made me a bit ashamed that I know so little about the challenges we face in the Arctic challenges. It motivated me to explore further, to raise my awareness of this important national issue.
I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the Doors presentation, but speaker Dan McCabe’s insight and humour had me engaged from the start. He focused on something we take for granted or, perhaps, don’t even notice, and convinced us that every door has a story worthy of our attention.
He introduced us to some of those stories:
• The respect garnered by the great doors to the House of Lords in the UK
• The iconic doors of 10 Downing Street
• The symbolic nature of the door to 221B Baker Street – the fictional home of a fictional detective
• The story of creativity and vision behind Rodin’s Gates of Hell
• And, the infamous story behind the “waterproof” door on the Titanic
Like many in the audience, I am sure, I left the Forum inspired by these stories, and newly cognizant of how even the most ordinary door can be a portal to something wonderful.
Thank you to Clare and the Talks Committee, and to today’s inspiring speakers, for getting the Fall 2019 Forum series off to a great start.