‘Hyperpowers’ Must Embrace Diversity of Populations to Thrive, Says Yale Legal Scholar

Washington

More than 8,000 educators from all corners of the globe gathered here last week in Washington for the 60th Annual Conference of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The conference was punctuated by a plenary address by Yale University Law Professor Amy Chua, who delivered a riveting address focused on her premise that the few “hyperpowers” in world history were only able to rise to unmatched economic, cultural and military dominance when their societies were diverse and tolerant.

“For all their enormous differences, every hyperpower in history was strikingly tolerant and pluralistic during its rise to preeminence, at least judged by the standards of the time. Indeed, in every case, tolerance was indispensable to the achievement of global hegemony,” Chua said.

In making her case, Chua said the series of countries that rose above superpower status to achieve hyperpower status relied on a diverse population to maintain their dominance and thrive. Chua cited the political maneuverings of Mongol Empire ruler Genghis Kahn, who made sure to carefully utilize the technological sophistication of conquered nations to bring the Mongols, a nomadic people, to dominance.

To a greater extent, Chua said Rome took the concept of fully embracing the diversity of conquered people to a new level, placing an egalitarian stamp of the title of Roman citizen, allowing foreigners to hold high political office — even rising to emperor.

In explaining the general conclusion of her diversity/world dominance thesis, as express in her book titled, “Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance — and Why They Fall,” Chua added, “The decline of hyperpowers has repeatedly coincided with intolerance and xenophobia.”

Additionally, Iraq’s, National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie unveiled a new Iraqi Education Initiative, which aims to bolster all levels of education in Iraq and send 7,000 Iraqi students each year for five years to study abroad. 

“In the past 30 years, Iraq has lost a considerable amount of its intellectual capital. The Iraqi education system in general has been literally in freefall,” al-Rubaie said. “Iraqi schools and universities were deprived of resources, and our entire society has suffered very negative consequences of this depravation.”

To help buttress Iraqi education, al-Rubaie said Iraq is prepared to invest $1 billion during the first year of a five-year initiative. “We are ready to put this kind of resources into education because we believe that the key to development is education. …  Iraq is coming along, and we are investing a lot of treasure in the education of our people. What we need is your help…to join the international community,” al-Rubaie told NAFSA attendees.

Additionally, NAFSA featured numerous sessions dedicated to exploring and enhancing diversity in international education programs. For instance, representatives from the Institute for International Education, which administers the U.S. State Department-sponsored Fulbright Scholar Program, presented a session titled, “International Diversity Initiatives for Sponsored Students,” highlighting efforts to increase the diversity of both U.S. and foreign-born Fulbright Scholars.

IIE Vice President for Student Exchanges Mary Kirk said the IIE has “redoubled all of our efforts to increase the diversity of American candidates at the undergraduate and graduate levels for the program, and has been working in partnership with foundations, minority-serving groups on campus and a number of collaborating organizations to increase the visibility of the program in the university community, but also in African-American, Hispanic and Asian American communities.”

IIE Director of Placement Services Linda Tobash added that her experience working for New York City’s LaGuardia Community College has given her insight into how to attract underprivileged urban minorities at a young age to the Fulbright program. “There’s been a lack outreach to this population, and they think, ‘This is not for me.’ So reaching them younger to build that confidence that, ‘Yes, this is for you,’ is very key,” she said.

Founded in 1948, NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. NAFSA has nearly 10,000 members, located at more than 3,500 institutions worldwide in over 150 countries. For more information, visit www.nafsa.org.

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