From the Director

Over the last few years, we have entered a new age of anxiety. Much of the world seems fraught: the Middle East, obviously, but also Europe as it struggles with mass migration and right-wing extremism. Russia’s economy is failing, but its president projects a malign external influence. China’s government actively suppresses dissent, but it also seeks to position the country as a global leader, with massive investments throughout the global South. India struggles to mesh economic reform with ethnically based politics.

Meanwhile, right-wing populism, anti-immigration sentiment and nationalist rhetoric are on the rise in many parts of the world. Some commentators see these movements as a response to globalization of markets and to economic dislocation caused by an uncritical commitment to free trade that has actually undermined the poor and the middle class.

Globalization has indeed prompted economic changes that eliminate or downgrade the jobs of some workers. Call centres in the Philippines and auto factories in Mexico exist. But every shred of evidence suggests that the real disruption in Western countries has been prompted by technological change that isn’t going away. Recurrent patterns of globalization since medieval times have produced benefits, but also huge costs that are borne unequally. Reactions to these historic eras of globalization – colonialism, the spread of industry, distribution of new communications technologies – coincide almost perfectly with the re-emergence of strong nationalistic sentiments, usually resulting in deep social conflict, even war. No wonder our era feels anxious.

At the Munk School of Global Affairs, we explore behind these headline sources of anxiety, not only excavating causes, but trying to figure out the future. Our students are a constant inspiration because they come to us strongly motivated to improve the world economically and socially. They are a source of intellectual and moral resilience. Perhaps that is why our faculty are so committed to research that is not merely descriptive but that seeks to inspire and prompt change. Whether it is by testing creative ways to deliver services to the most marginalized people, exploring the growing role of information technology in espionage, examining how innovation policy can better include people with disabilities, or assessing how to improve homicide investigations in Latin American police forces, Munk School researchers are trying to shape a better future in Canada and around the globe.

It has been an honour to lead such a remarkable collection of scholars and students, and as I pass the baton to Interim Director Prof. Randall Hansen, I am confident that the Munk School will continue to thrive as it builds the dynamic field of global affairs from Canada.

Stephen J. Toope
Director, Munk School of Global Affairs
May 31, 2017

Stephen J. Toope, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs

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