In this special event, marking UWC Day and the UN International Day of Peace, our series Patron Kishore Mahbubani and College President Carma Elliot engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on peace, covering themes including the influences of internationalism, how changes in global geo-political landscapes have shifted the balances of power, China's relationship with the world, and the increasing role of regional cooperation in maintaining international peace.
The paradox about our times is that on the one hand, we live in the most peaceful era ever in human history, statistically speaking … on the other hand, we are also about to enter one of the most dangerous periods in human history.”KIshore mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS), speaking at the KMSS event: perspectives on peace on 21 September 2021, in reference to the current shifts in power dynamics in the global geo-political landscape
Currently Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS), Mr Mahbubani has been privileged to enjoy two distinct careers, in diplomacy (1971–2004) and in academia (from 2004 on). He is a prolific writer who has spoken in many corners of the world.
In diplomacy, he was with the Singapore Foreign Service for 33 years (1971–2004), with postings in Cambodia, Malaysia, Washington DC and New York, where he twice was Singapore’s Ambassador to the UN and served as President of the UN Security Council in January 2001 and May 2002. He was also Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Ministry from 1993–1998, and was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Gold) by the Singapore Government in 1998.
Mr Mahbubani joined academia in 2004, when he was appointed the Founding Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School), NUS. He was Dean from 2004–2017, and a Professor in the Practice of Public Policy from 2006–2019. In April 2019, he was elected as an honorary international member to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which has honoured distinguished thinkers, including several of America’s founding fathers, since 1780.
Mr Mahbubani was awarded the President’s Scholarship in 1967. He graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy from the University of Singapore in 1971. From Dalhousie University, Canada, he received a Master’s degree in Philosophy in 1976 and an honorary doctorate in 1995. He spent a year as a fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University from 1991–1992.
He has achieved several “firsts” in his two careers. He was the Founding Dean of the LKY School, the founding Director of the Civil Service College, the first Singapore Ambassador to serve on the UN Security Council, the first Singaporean to publish articles in globally renowned journals and newspapers like Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New York Times and the Financial Times and co-authored articles with distinguished global thought leaders like Kofi Annan, Klaus Schwab and Larry Summers.
He has also been a prolific author, having published eight books: Can Asians Think?, Beyond The Age Of Innocence, The New Asian Hemisphere, The Great Convergence, Can Singapore Survive, The ASEAN Miracle (co-authored with Jeffery Sng), Has the West Lost It? and Has China Won?
His two children are UWCSEA Dover alumni, and Mr Mahbubani served on the UWCSEA Board of Governors. He was Chair of the Board when the decision was taken to found the East Campus, and this speaker series and the Kishore Mahbubani Library on the East Campus were named in honour of his contribution to the College during this period.
Biography courtesy of mahbubani.net
As the first College President, Carma joined UWCSEA in 2019, following a career as a British diplomat. For 23 years until 2010, Carma worked in a wide variety of roles and across continents, including bilateral politics, trade and investment, immigration and protocol. Her final three postings were as Consul-General in Chongqing (China), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and finally Shanghai (China).
Carma spent much of her adult life in China; first going to China as a student at Fudan University in Shanghai over 35 years ago. After leaving the Foreign Office, Carma became Executive Director at China’s single largest international NGO, the Half the Sky Foundation (2010–2013), focused on enriching the lives of China’s orphaned children, before joining the British Council in 2013 as Director China, and concurrently Minister for Culture and Education in the British Embassy Beijing, a member of the Ambassador’s senior leadership team. Throughout her professional life, Carma has affected meaningful change in the government, international education and development sectors in several countries, most recently completing a complex business transformation at the British Council in China.
Carma is originally from Scotland, and is proud to call herself a global citizen. A ‘third culture kid’, she grew up living in multiple countries as her family moved around with her father’s job. Through her professional life, she has developed a deep knowledge of the cultural nuances required to successfully navigate and create intercultural understanding and an appreciation of the importance of respecting diverse perspectives when working towards peace between people. Carma has been honoured twice by Her Majesty The Queen, for her service to the UK abroad.
She is single and has two adopted daughters.
Carma's Blog is called Thought: Process
Nick has taught in holistic, values-driven schools schools since 1995, first teaching Theory of Knowledge and Mathematics at UWCSEA Dover and subsequently at the International School of Geneva in Switzerland. After working as Director of IB at Sevenoaks School, UK, and as Dean of Studies at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya, Nick returned to Singapore to lead a team establishing the UWCSEA East High School in 2012 as the High School Principal. He was appointed Deputy Head of East Campus in 2016 and took up the position of Head of East Campus in January 2021.
IB Chief Assessor for Theory of Knowledge from 2005 to 2010 and Vice Chair of the IB Examining Board from 2007 to 2013, he is a textbook author, IB examiner, workshop leader and consultant who writes and speaks widely on various educational matters.
Nick has a bachelor's degree in Natural Sciences from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, postgraduate certificates in Engineering and Education from Wolfson College, Cambridge and Manchester College, Oxford and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the Open University.
An avid reader, Nick also enjoys running in the heat, evening walks in the cool and baking bread each weekend. His three children enjoy activities from volleyball to podcasting to drumming, and Ellie, his wife, is Director of Teaching and Learning on Dover Campus. As a family they enjoy travelling across the region, sampling new food, and enjoying the great outdoors.
Nick’s blog Education, Schools and Culture is a reflection of his thinking and deep engagement on educational topics with his peers and community. You can also join the conversation with Nick on Twitter.