Yale Welcomes New Professor: Prime Minister Blair

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been appointed the Howland Distinguished Fellow for the 2008-2009 academic year, where he will lead a seminar on faith and globalization to be jointly coordinated by the Yale School of Management and the Yale Divinity School. The course in which he will participate with Yale faculty will examine issues of faith and globalization. In addition, Blair will participate in a number of events around the campus. His efforts at Yale relate to the work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that he will be launching later this year.

In a university press release, Yale President Richard C. Levin says “The appointment of Mr. Blair provides a tremendous opportunity for our students and our community. As the world continues to become increasingly inter-dependent, it is essential that we explore how religious values can be channeled toward reconciliation rather than polarization. Mr. Blair has demonstrated outstanding leadership in these areas and is especially qualified to bring his perspective to bear. We are honored that he is planning to join the Yale community.”

Yale University created the Howland Distinguished Fellowship in 1915 to recognize a “citizen of any country in recognition of some achievement of marked distinction in the field of literature or fine arts or the science of government.” Among those who have been Howland Distinguished Fellows in the last century are the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, journalist Sir Alistair Cooke and stateswoman Indira Gandhi.

In commenting on the appointment, Yale SOM Dean Joel M. Podolny says “At the Yale School of Management, we put tremendous emphasis on values-based leadership. Therefore, we are doubly thrilled that the former Prime Minister will be joining Yale as a Howland Fellow. I anticipate that his course will focus on an important dimension of values-based leadership; and he himself has embodied that model of leadership in his life and his career.”

Blogger Mike Ion thinks that Tony Blair will seek to encourage his students to see the market as neither sacred nor almighty, and hopes his Yale seminars promote new and practical ways of reintroducing spirituality, ethics and faith into the debate on globalization.

Fellow Yale lecturer Ted R. Bromund welcomes the prime minister, saying in Commentary Magazine that “Since 9/11, interest in faith as a force in human affairs has begun to return at Yale. Blair’s seminar marks a further, higher-profile reinforcement of that vital trend. Even if you disagree with his diagnosis of the Middle East, he will be teaching the young and eager about things that truly matter.”

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