The environment will play a major role in international relations in the coming decades, two experts on international ethics and development said at an event hosted by the International Relations on Campus group on Saturday morning.
Adil Najam, the director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center at Boston University, and Martin Calkins, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston College of Management, presented to about 30 students at the workshop. It was the first such event organized by the international relations student group this year.
Najam, who will represent the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when the organization receives its Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway on Dec. 10, said it is dangerous to separate international development and environmental preservation, which he said is a mistake made by many people today.
“Our world is a third world country,” he added, pointing to the world’s disproportionate distribution of wealth. “I don’t believe there is a choice between development and environmental sustainability,” he said, emphasizing that the two depend on each other.
Calkins, the first speaker, said that international development has showed a consistent lack of ethical concern for the environment. As an example, he presented the history of the development of the automobile industries in the United States and in China.
“It is crucial that we step up voicing concerns with our government,” he said.
Students at the event, which featured a lunch of Middle Eastern dishes, said that they enjoyed the unusual discussion of the environment within the context of international relations.
“It was kind of interesting that the headline was International Relations of Ethics, and I don’t think environment is something you immediately think of under that,” said Julia Lam ’09, who is also a Crimson editorial editor.
“It was an incredibly dynamic presentation,” she said, noting Najam’s “beautifully designed slides and seamless transitions.”
And Trevor J. Bakker ’10 said that he appreciated the parallels made by Calkins.
“I liked his emphasis on smaller forms of transportation—electric bicycles—alternatives to what are already called ‘alternatives,’ hybrid cars,” he said.