Former Vice President Al Gore lectured on the future of American politics via Skype to two classes Tuesday afternoon.
Gore was welcomed to the video conference by Don Fowler, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and President Harris Pastides.
Gore began his lecture by discussing political change and the future, but he focused on five main points before taking questions.
“None of us can see the future, but all of us can speculate the future,” Gore said.
The first point Gore discussed was his idea of “Earth Inc.,” or the today’s new, highly connected economy and the complicated issue of the growing power of the global marketplace.
“95 percent of the national income in the U.S. since 2009 has indeed gone to the wealthiest 1 percent,” Gore said. “Now that’s not an Occupy Wall Street slogan — that is an actual fact.”
Gore also talked about was the emergence of the “global mind” and how the Internet and social media have connected this generation more than any other. Gore said the global mind is creating a more volunteering community and that people are playing a stronger civic role.
Gore also spoke about how companies are treating their customers like products by gathering information from them that they can sell to third parties. Bringing up the impact of WikiLeaks and other security issues, Gore said privacy should still be important to the American people.
He then talked about life science, and he mentioned the progress that has been made in genomic testing and medical diagnosis. Speaking on the dangers of widespread antibiotic use, he stressed that almost 80 percent of antibiotics are now put in feed to make livestock fatter.
Lastly, the former vice president lectured on the shift in global power, saying that the U.S. has been leading the world in political power since the end of World War II, but that China is surpassing it in economic strength.
“China will over take the U.S. within the next few years,” Gore warned.
Laughing that he would be remiss to not at least mention pollution and global warming, Gore said a “climate crisis” was emerging because “about 90 million tons of pollution are dumped into the Earth’s atmosphere every 24 hours.”
Students from Fowler’s classes were then called up and given the opportunity to ask Gore questions. Trenton Smith, a third-year political science and economics student, asked Gore about U.S. education policy and practice.
“How can we as a society prepare students with the technical knowledge they need for this economy of the future — of the present, really — while still maintaining our grounding in providing a liberal arts education for all students?” Smith asked.
Gore answered his question by saying that outsourcing jobs and the rising role of robots in industry are causing more jobs to be involved in fields other than manufacturing, and so a liberal arts education is more important than ever.
Gore then ended the question session by stressing the importance of passion and asking millennials to keep a dedication to “enduring human values.”