From the Director
Consider the headlines: collapsing oil prices, tightening of political controls in China, millions of migrants flowing across borders, worries about the economic competitiveness of Canada, brutal terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and Bamako. Our world is anxious. Interconnection brings increasing complexity. Complexity can make it hard for political actors to understand the nature and effects of the legislation and regulation they create. The creation of ever more open markets through trade deals encourages economic integration but causes many people to fear for their jobs.
Security can no longer be understood solely in state-centric terms: many of the greatest threats to our safety and prosperity are posed by actors apart from the state. Yet the potential for inter-state conflict remains a constant feature of global affairs, promoting instability and fear. Global crises such as climate change are better understood but hard to address because of the diffuse nature of the threats and the need for integrated action across the entire planet. And all this is occurring in parallel with the increasing prominence of urban areas where massive migration and economic precariousness prompt insecurity and conflict.
When the Munk School was born from the Munk Centre for International Studies, the goal was to build and occupy a new field of study: global affairs. The definition of the field was not fixed, but the intent was inclusive – not to reject the disciplinary advances made in fields including economics, history, international relations, political science and sociology, but to build from them and with them.
Over the last year, during which we celebrated the school’s fifth anniversary, we made real progress in fulfilling the linked ambitions to build up the field of global affairs, to drive important global conversations from the Munk School and to reach out more effectively to policy-makers and a wide audience of informed citizens. Our progress was recognized with the school’s admission to the elite Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs.
Throughout this report we highlight globally significant themes where the Munk School is assuming leadership in teaching, research and public engagement. From innovation policy to migration, from security and human rights to anti-terrorism, researchers and students of the Munk School are helping to deepen our understanding of the world and to shape better public policy.
Yes, we live in anxious times. But great educational institutions create opportunity and inculcate hope for the future. Out of anxiety, we need to build social resilience. It is no longer enough for that resilience to be nurtured only within national boundaries. We need global social resilience. That is why we need a great school of global affairs: the Munk School.
Stephen J. Toope
Director, Munk School of Global Affairs