The wave of distressing threats the world faces requires developing young people into strong and principled global leaders, said Ambassador Lee Feinstein
—founding dean of the Hamilton Lugar School—during his moving keynote speech at the International Center Annual Meeting on February 5. During the address, he shared his hard-earned insights about how today’s youth will grow into the impactful leaders this world requires for peace and cooperation
The talk was the highlight of a day dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and bolstering the profile of the International Center, the Indiana-based center that has been working for forty years to boost Indiana’s global footprint. The center was formed during then-Mayor Richard Lugar’s tenure to provide interpreters and translators for the NATO Conference of Mayors held in Indianapolis in 1972. In the decades since, the center has served as a guide to the world’s cultural landscape and a catalyst for the state’s international growth, expanding its influence and programs as it collaborates with businesses, organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and individual citizens to propel Indiana’s global objectives.
The International Center’s current programs include providing local organizations with country-specific or culture-specific training programs, assisting foreign employees looking to make a home for themselves in Indiana, and facilitating the International Visitor Leadership Program, an initiative by the Department of State that brings emerging leaders in a variety of fields to Indiana to meet with their professional counterparts and participate in cultural and social activities.
The cross-cultural exchanges and educational experiences that the International Center provides have been crucial to making Indiana a desirable and effective place to build a global career. Its mission meshes well with the Hamilton Lugar School. Since the Hamilton Lugar School’s founding, Ambassador Feinstein has ensured that Indiana University is providing the liberal arts skills, language learning, and global and regional knowledge that ambitious young people need to succeed in the international arena.
In his remarks, Feinstein pointed out how these skills can propel young people to make an impact in the areas that inspire them. But that’s not all young people need. “Never were the university’s responsibilities for the development of character of greater significance than at the present hour,” he said, quoting the influential president and chancellor of IU, Herman B Wells, who was speaking in December of 1938.
“The same can be said today.”
Rising intolerance, political extremism, the highest levels of displaced people since World War II, global climate change, and polarization at home and abroad all contribute to a sense that we are living in a time not so different from 1938. But there is a way forward, Feinstein said.
The university, by teaching the importance of principle and pragmatism, can instill in young people and the community the crucial tools needed to make progress. Developing global knowledge is the key first step.
“Global understanding leads to humility. Humility is the key to effective leadership.” And effective leadership can nudge us toward a more just and secure world.
Ambassador Feinstein continued by highlighting Indiana’s proud legacy of globalism in trade, economic development, and education, the result of many hardworking people in government, business, and organizations like the International Center.
Students develop global readiness, he noted, in five ways: they understand global systems like international trade and law, gain regional expertise, learn languages, become fluent in numeracy, and learn to work across cultures on a common problem to produce a result. At a time when other universities are cutting language learning and international experiences, the Hamilton Lugar School is supporting and expanding those opportunities so its students can develop all five necessary skills.
Feinstein concluded by maintaining that character, expressed through listening and seeking shared understanding, is how to bring about positive change. That is the legacy of Congressman Lee Hamilton and Senator Richard Lugar, the namesakes of the Hamilton Lugar School, and it is an ethos of optimism in this time of division and distrust.
Students at the Hamilton Lugar School live out this ethos through their local and international engagement, and they adopt these lessons as they become the next generation of global leaders.