President's Corner

From Convocation Address, Mcmaster University, June 4

I FEEL HONORED to have been invited to join an academic community which in one year has attracted the Aga Khan and the Learned Societies of Canada to its campus. It was in the old McMaster Building on Bloor Street in Toronto, more than half a century ago, that I was enrolled in Political Science and Economics. There Harold Innis offered his students the notion of “the application of mature techniques to virgin natural resources”.

It is that most vital of our resources — the human — that, in my opinion, has encountered most difficulty in adapting to the pace of technological change in this turbulent century. Providing for our society the intellectual maturity to match the pace of scientific and technological change constitutes the greatest challenge to post-secondary education today. By intellectual maturity I mean developing the attitudes and skills necessary to participate effectively in a free and democratic society and to bring about the changes necessary for survival and prosperity in today’s increasingly interdependent world community.

Intellectual maturity involves the development of critical thinking and analysis of facts, arguments and ideas, as well as aesthetic knowledge that leads to the making of independent judgements and is marked by an attitude of personal responsibility for influencing decision making.

It has been said that the future is hidden even from those who make it. We live in the present which makes it vital to develop the skills of adapting to the agenda of an unknown future. I would suggest our generation cannot be proud of the problems we have bequeathed to present and future graduates.

As president of Science for Peace I do not question the need for upgrading the knowledge-intensive technology required to enable Canadians to keep pace with an information society in a post-industrial age. What I plead is the case to give adequate attention to our education system to developing skills and talents for individual judgement and decision-making, leading to responsible citizenship and statesmanship.

— George Ignatieff

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