Benjamin Barber at The Asia Institute

Professor Benjamin Barber, a senior research scholar at The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, and Walt Whitman Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University, author of numerous books including best seller Jihad vs. McWorld, talks at a function hosted by The Asia Institute and HOBY at the Press Center near Seoul City Hall about interdependence, education, and his forthcoming book, If Mayors Ruled the World (2013). A press piece has been written by the Asia News Agency (Kor).

Asia Institute Seminar with Professor Benjamin Barber on March 25, 2013

Professor Benjamin Barber

The Asia Institute presents with HOBY Korea this unprecedented opportunity to speak directly to the world-famous scholar Professor Benjamin Barber and join him for an intimate lunch on Monday, March 25, 2013. The event is aimed specifically at those engaged in the education of high school students as this event is leading up to the Asia Institute’s GCF Youth Green Fund Symposium for high school students (July 12-14, 2013). Please contact me:


if you can attend.




Emanuel Pastreich



HOBY Korea & The Asia Institute

Haechun B/D #903, Yuksam-dong 831, Kangnam-gu, S. Korea

Tel: 82-2-569-9600 Fax. 82-2-569-7557

TOCC High Schools in the Republic of KoreaPrinciples/Heads of International Departments
SUBJECT Invitation to lecture by Professor Benjamin Barber at Korea Press CenterMonday, March 25, 2013 10:30 AM 12 PM followed by lunch
DATE SENT 2013. 03. 06
“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures, those who make it or those who don’t. I divide the world into learners and non-learners.”

-Benjamin Barber


We would like to offer you the exceptional opportunity to participate in a remarkable event: a lecture by one of America’s leading intellectuals, Professor Benjamin Barber, a man who has a keen interest in education and society and who has been invited for a special meeting with Mayor Park of Seoul to discuss Seoul’s efforts to globalize.

Benjamin Barber, author of seventeen books including the global best seller Jihad Vs. McWorld, is currently Senior Research Scholar at The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, City University of New York, and President of the Interdependence Movement. He will deliver a lecture on “The Future of Our Children’s Education.” Professor Barber’s talk will be followed by a short presentation by Professor Emanuel Pastreich (Kyung Hee University) about the Asia Institute’s upcoming “GCF Youth Green Fund Symposium” for high school students to be held in July 12-14, 2013.


Please honor our event with your presence.

Time and Location: Monday, March 25, 2013 at Korea Press Center (9th Floor)

10:30 AM – Lecture: “Internationalization and the Future of Education” – Prof. Benjamin Barber (City University of New York)

11:10 – 11:30 AM  – Q&A / Free Discussion

11:30 – 11:50 AM – GCF Youth Green Fund Symposium – Prof. Emanuel Pastreich

(Kyunghee University)

12:00 – 13:00 PM – Lunch


Spaces Available: 50

Application Deadline: Space-available basis

– Attached-

Prof. Benjamin Barber’s Biography

Prof. Emanuel Pastreich’s Biography

Participation Application



Hyun Chul Hwang









Benjamin Barber


Benjamin R. Barber is a Senior Research Scholar at The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society of The Graduate Center, City University of New York, President and Founder of the Interdependence Movement, and Walt Whitman Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Rutgers University. An internationally renowned political theorist, Dr. Barber brings an abiding concern for democracy and citizenship to issues of politics, globalization, culture and education in America and abroad.

Benjamin Barber’s 17 books include the classic Strong Democracy (1984) reissued in 2004 in a twentieth anniversary edition; the international best-seller Jihad vs. McWorld (1995 with a Post 9/11 Edition in 2001, translated into thirty languages) and Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole, published by W.W. Norton & Co. in March, 2007 (ten foreign editions). His upcoming book, If Mayors Ruled the World, will be published by Yale University Press in 2013.

Emanuel Pastreich

Emanuel Pastreich serves as a professor at Kyunghee University as well as the director of the Asia Institute. The Asia Institute dedicated to the implications of technology for international relations.


Before coming to Korea in 2007, he worked at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington as Advisor to Public Affairs Minister and managed numerous cultural projects related to Japanese an American government He started teaching at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as professor of Japanese literature from 1997 to 2005. Pastreich studied Chinese at Yale University (1987) and received an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of Tokyo (1992), where he did all coursework in Japanese. After receiving a Ph.D. from the Harvard University (1997)




Application to Professor Benjamin Barber’s Lecture


I hereby apply to participate in Prof. Benjamin Barber’s Lecture.


Type of Participant

School Personnel (         )

Parent (         )



Contact No.










Purpose of participation



2013/ 3/   Name                        


After completion, please fax (02.569.7557) or email ( the completed application.


HOBY Korea

The Asia Institute

TRUTHOUT Editorial “On Climate, Defense Could Preserve and Protect, Rather Than Kill and Destroy”

1 Comment



On Climate, Defense Could Preserve and Protect, Rather Than Kill and Destroy

Emanuel Pastreich

Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:34

original text

Holding the line against the Kubuchi Desert.

One hundred groggy Korean college students stumble off the train in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, blinking in the bright sunlight. A 14-hour train ride from Beijing, Baotou is by no means a popular destination for Seoul’s youth, but then this is no shopping excursion.

A short, elderly man in a bright green jacket leads the students through the crowd in the station, hurriedly giving orders to the group. In contrast to the students, he does not appear tired at all; his smile is unimpaired by the journey. His name is Kwon Byung-Hyun, a career diplomat who served as the Republic of Korea’s ambassador to China from 1998 to 2001. Whereas his portfolio once covered everything from trade and tourism to military affairs and North Korea, Ambassador Kwon has found a new cause that demands his full attention. At 74 years of age, he has no time to see his colleagues who are busy playing golf or for indulging in hobbies. Ambassador Kwon is in his little office in Seoul on the phone and writing letters to build an international response to the spread of deserts in China – or he is here, planting trees. Continue Reading

Asia Institute Seminars for January 2013


January 2013

Asia Institute Seminars


These three seminars represent the recent efforts of the Asia Institute to engage young people in a rigorous and constructive debate on contemporary policy and issues.


Asia Institute Seminar

 “International Perspectives on Mental Illness”

January 29, 2013


Ayu Okvitawanli:

When talking about mental illness, it’s important to separate whether one talked about patient with brain damages, medically ill, or the one with depression / aggression symptom that is not actually “ill” but the environment create them to be so. Furthermore, it is true that culture in many cases, provided the definition of what is “normal” and “abnormal” even when upon reflection, common sense deemed these to be the other way around. Perhaps it is even possible to think not only of an individual but of a group as having some kind of “mental illness?

Some research has indicated that suicides attempt can be contagious. Furthermore, some extreme act can also be imitated, such as copy-cat suicides or copy-cat mass killing (e.g. in school environment). These alert us to be careful when thinking of raising awareness on mental illnesses.

Emanuel  Pastreich:

Mental illness is the complex intersection of society, culture and the individual. There are some cases of mental illnesses that are clearly linked to deformations of the brain, but in most cases, mental illness involves the interaction of individual issues, contradictions and tensions within society, and paradoxes and savage powers within the culture itself. Often those other parts beyond the individual are invisible to us, and many people would like to just say “he is sick” or “just give him some medicine.” Sandy Hook in the US is the best example of this sort of problem.

In the case of the Sandy Hook shooting, the media quotes had the boy’s mother, father, family and friends saying they are baffled. Adam embodied an illness that reaches through the whole culture. Easy to say that we can’t comprehend what he did. When his father writes says he is “in disbelief at the atrocity” and family friends say ‘We too are asking why” or ‘Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired” they are not being honest.

I spent a few hours looking at popular American TV last night over the internet. As I do not watch TV even in Korea, and certainly do not have ready access to American TV, I could only see small pieces. Combined with what I could find in games (which are increasingly taking over the role that TV once played) I can see a massive increase in violence at every level. The entire culture, I had to conclude, has been brutalized and is increasingly turning to violence as entertainment, as the compelling topic for one’s attention.


Jihye Shin:

A discourse of mental illness largely depends on cultural elements of each society. First, mental illness is treated differently according to how culture/society recognizes it: whether it treats as a serious problem with emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment for it, both in macro/society level and micro/individual level, or society/culture turns a blind eye on it. Second, mental illness is treated differently according to how society as whole and individuals in it are affected by the illness. The causes and the level of acceptance of mental illness vary according to different cultural backgrounds as well.

I do not think the Western medical approach in terms of the treatment for mental illness is totally wrong if medicine could compliment a holistic therapy for mental illness. People and society needs more information and awareness in order to choose for themselves and their family members. Balancing between the medical treatment and more holistic measures ranging from individual to family and society level is never an easy step to take. That how books such as “Plato, Not Prozac: Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems” by Professor Marinoff came about in attempting to approach problems like mental illness in more philosophical ways as opposed to the conventional/clinical approaches.

We cannot always blame culture, society, social units such as family, social institutions which mainly includes government and law, etc. For example, we cannot blame American society and gun laws in the States for shootings such as Sandy Hook’s case and so on, as it all comes down to individual’s responsibilities at the end of the day. It is true that the causes of mental illness should not be seen as a black-and-white matter between society and individual. For example, in most cases, individuals have no control either on one’s family background, one of the smallest units of society, or on one’s nationality, one of the largest units of society. Therefore, it would be hard to say that such mental illness derives only from individual’s state of mind. However, what we cannot overlook is the fact that human being is the only rational being on the earth, and, to some extent, human being are capable of being trained to know how to recognize the illness and access help accordingly. Of course, this may work or may not work depending on the severity of the illness and so on.

Bum Jin Kim:

I would like an awareness campaign for mental illness. Instead of discussing gun control, the media should raise awareness about mental health issues.

Nobody is ashamed of seeing a doctor for the flu, but people seem ashamed of the idea of seeing a therapist capable of being trained to know how to recognize the illness and access help accordingly. Of course, this may work or may not work depending on the severity of the illness and so on.


Nazzina Mohsin:

Mental illness is sometimes left as some kind of “madness”, also in affluent families in South Asia, many keep it out as something to “ignore” and its not taken seriously. Our current awareness campaigns aren’t strong enough. It doesn’t become a headline until something terrible happens (like the Sandy Hook shooting) and in general, people are also not interested when such campaigns are happening.

In Bangladesh we have only one national mental illness institution and there aren’t enough beds for patients. People try to “solve” it within families and rarely consult doctors. Mental problems usually come from being unsuccessful, physical illness (for long preiod), failure in lives, and poverty. Accepting the existence of mental illness and working towards helping those who are in need are key issues. I think it needs to be addressed like AIDS/HIV campaigns – that is there is no shame of having someone ill in the family.


Asia Institute Seminar

 “International Cooperation and Aid”

January 21, 2013


Ayu Okvitawanli:

In a sense, international cooperation and aids can be seen as a matching problem. Due to the vast diversity between needs in differing country, it is difficult to create all-encompassing framework/guideline on how aids given from a country to another should be handled. In addition, lack of reference experience in understanding the roots of the needs in different country, caused difficulty in raising awareness, especially in judging the good international collaboration from a bad one. Sometimes marketing became the key to attract funding, which often is misleading. However, it is a dilemma when credibility and efficiency of any particular project is difficult to assess.


Emanuel  Pastreich:

So if I came from the United States to Cambodia to help, I can teach people there a bit about how the world works and more complex institutions. Such interaction is positive. But at the same time I can learn from the people I meet. Someone in Cambodia might know how to wash all their dishes with a tiny amount of water. As an ugly American, I have no idea how to do that.

I guess there are two issues: the general question of how international aid, development work, can be effective in general, and the very specific question of what works for which situations. I am afraid I am not so qualified to talk about what works on the ground, although I certainly have a sense of how aid is abused globally and also how sincere efforts can end up being destructive. One key issue that is overlooked is creating a culture that can accept failure. To be able to objectively discuss failure in an organization is an incredibly important more often than not in government, or in companies, admitting that one has failed means people can pin everything on you.

Carmen Ng:                                 

The nature of international collaboration itself suggests that there might not be a perfect balance between the more well-offs and the less. However I don’t think many doubt if such events can make a difference. The question is difference for whom? The visitors or the locals? Another factor is the duration of development projects and how they are organized. Yes, some may use quite a lot of resources, but in some cases that might be more acceptable if there is solid contribution from the projects (e.g. Doctors Without Borders). Long-term projects may also yield more fruitful outcomes than short-term ones because the organizers need to take sustainability into account.

Asia Institute Seminar

“Meaningful Vocation for the Next Asia Youth”

January 14, 2013


Ayu OkvitawanIi:

There seems to be a tension between what pays and what one would like to pursue. But ideally, this should not be the case. Diversity is perhaps one good path to achieve this. As Asia grew rapidly, this should be the time when this ideal could be more easily achieved. We know there is a lot of talk about growth in Asia and the like. However, from my layman opinion, there seems to be less local-people grabbing the opportunities as supposed to the foreigners coming into the country.

Indonesia, which has 60% entrepreneurship rate, is pursuing employment by big companies, while in other places, entrepreneurship is deemed more important. I believe this has to do with the fact that government is not supporting the citizen basic livelihood, thus making employment in big companies or government jobs desirable, as it is seen to be “more secure”. The inability to rely on governments for “bad time” I think limits the opportunities and growth that the citizens could have.

Emanuel  Pastreich:

As for  the true nature of employment, well, every country, every local region is different. Nevertheless I think we can see some general trends that are meaningful. First, technology is changing the nature of jobs (both by replacing people, or changing the way they interact with each other, or making it possible to move jobs or things around the world). In addition, relations between groups of people are shifting faster than we can be fully aware of. Our culture is transforming at may levels and those changes are often invisible to us.

The nature of government is a critical part of the equation. I personally tend to value the role of government in the conceptual sense, but what exactly government is and how is it changing is more difficult to assess. Also, housing is at least as important as work. We really need to step back and ask: what does it take to have a happy life? Who supplies housing food, transportation and meaningfulness in one’s life and do all those things have to be paid for with money? If government plays the role of supplying these other parts of life, then the job is less critical. But if government does not play a role, then the job is everything for the individual.

There are different stages, and cultural differences, but we can say for sure is that if a country has nothing, then the government cannot do much; if the country is in a rapid developmental pattern, they government’s role increases and as you get wealthier, people tend to think they can get around government, live without it. But this is a delusion; people think if there was no government, they could do what they want. But if there was no government, there would be chaos. The serious question is who goes into government and how they run the government. For example, my own country is democratic, more or less, and has elections. But if you go work for the government, once you are in the government, there is no democracy for you. You do not elect those you work for and in many cases you cannot have any imput..

Carmen Ng:

With over 90% overall literacy rate in a bilingual environment, HK should be a perfect embodiment of diversity (East and West), however the reality is different; Finance and Commerce are the dominant economic structure, which becomes a career path for nearly 70% of local graduates. According to two recent graduate employment surveys of the top 2 universities in HK; research, technology, arts and humanities, are often sidelined as “impractical” career path.

This trace back to what some would say a sky-high land and rent policy, encouraging students to consider the ability to pay mortgage over the incentive to maximize talents when it comes to both education and career.

HK is often cited as “severely unaffordable” in global research reports, such as one by Demographia in 2011, which measures its median home price to be at least 12.6 times the annual median household income, while for UK, the number is 5.1, and for the U.S., the number is 3.

China’s and Hong Kong’s mortgage-to-income ratio stand at nearly 50%, which means — the property prices backdrop is a strong contributing factor for Hong Kong university students to pursue the only practical career path: finance, the most profitable one of all

Joa Lee:

Looking at Korea I believe there is something to say about the structure of the society. In a capitalist world, a few people hold the capital. These people seem to provide jobs for the public, but the well-paid jobs with good welfare are available for only limited number of people. Although one may have a talent in one area, for instance in art, one may have difficulty in pursuing what he/she is good at. Rather, they first seek decent job that pays the bill and secure the future with pension.


Nazzina Mohsin:

The concept of jobs among youth is quite diverse now. many young people are not only seeking jobs that pay salary (9/5 – white collar and all) but also many seeking entrepreneurships as part of their career, the problem is many young people do not have right kind of guidance on how to seek a career – almost always its a hype that they follow. For example, the computer science hikes in Bangladesh and India.

The most talented ones in Bangladesh study businesses and want to work in FMCG companies or banking sectors. We are lacking skilled teachers, our engineers are leaving and our government doctors are underpaid (so they often resort to spending more time on private practices). Besides that, politic-associated people get priorities in all sectors.

Perhaps it is better to have a civilian-military joint government (instead of a democracy), just to clean out corruption and open opportunities based on skills and needs. Right now we have two parties at gridlock – the two leaders have not exchange words for the past four years. We have a non-functional parliament; ruling party making decisions without consulting civil society or the opposition’s party.