America and the Rise of the Rest: The World According to Zakaria

James Harvey
Executive Director
National Superintendents Roundtable

January 2009 |

This paper summarizes the opening keynote presentation delivered by Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International and CNN Host, at the 2008 TIAA-CREF Institute Higher Education Leadership Conference. Zakaria discussed how the U.S. arrived at its present financial and geo-political position in today’s global environment, and the role of higher education in addressing the opportunities and challenges posed by that environment. He outlined forces from the past several decades that moved the world toward a global economy and then described how global economic trends have led to what he calls the “rise of the rest” in terms of economic stability and growth. The rest of the world is catching up to the west economically, beginning with the east Asian countries. Zakaria explained that beyond economic implications, globalization means numerous perspectives on history, philosophy and world events; the western perspective no longer dominates.

Zakaria presented his view that the continued U.S. success in the global economy is dependent on its ability to continue “moving up the value chain,” and this in turn is dependent upon higher education. Zakaria argued that the U.S. must continue to invest in higher education, but beyond that the U.S. needs to retain the best of the foreign students who earn their Ph.D.’s in science and engineering in this country. Zakaria concluded by noting that U.S. higher education is a brand with extraordinary value in the rest of the world, and higher education leaders must consider how best to leverage this brand in the global marketplace.

Video excerpts from Fareed Zakaria’s opening keynote address can be accessed here.

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