Campus News

Signature Lecture speaker advocates international collaboration to face economic, social pressures

Frequent terrorist attacks, interracial tension, an unstable global economy and a refugee crisis the likes of which the world hasn’t seen before combine to make this generation one of the most volatile in recent history, according to the president of the University of Oxford’s Trinity College.

“These are particularly worrying times,” said Sir Ivor Roberts, a former British diplomat with almost 40 years of service, “but through international collaboration, we can persevere.”

Roberts spoke Sept. 28 in a lecture sponsored by the UGA Press, the School of Public and International Affairs and UGA at Oxford. During his tenure in the British Diplomatic Service, Roberts was ambassador to several countries, deputy head of the Foreign Office’s press department and head of counter-terrorism.

Recent populist movements in Western nations, such as the “Little Englanders” in the United Kingdom and the far right-wing movements in the U.S. and countries like Germany, have advocated a domestic-centered approach to politics and a decreased role for their countries on the world stage. This approach, Roberts said, is not only detrimental to those countries themselves but also to the larger stability of the world.

“The reality is that we live in a dystopian world where many, if not most, parts of it are facing acute political, economic or social pressures,” Roberts said. “It’s tempting to insulate oneself from the worst effects of this dystopia because the lessons of the 1930s, so distant yet with so many economic and political parallels with the modern day, serve to demonstrate disengagement merely stores up nightmarish future problems.”

Countries benefit from international collaboration, which enables them to make a larger impact than would be possible on their own. Policies of isolationism, especially in powerful countries like the U.S., are dangerous, Roberts said.