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Former Prime Minister of Britain embarks on a global opportunity at N.Y.U.


A half-year ago, he resigned as British prime minister after a bruising campaign and some stiff criticism of his politicking skills. But on Tuesday, Gordon Brown was pressing the flesh again–this time at New York University, where he talked about his new book, led a discussion with selected students and eased into the Greenwich Village institution that will be his academic home for the next two years, reports the New York Times. Mr. Brown, the university announced, has been named N.Y.U.’s inaugural “distinguished global leader in residence.” Still a member of Parliament, he will bring the cachet and credentials that go with being a former chief executive of Britain to a university on an ambitious global mission, with a new liberal arts campus in Abu Dhabi and study-away sites on five continents. It turns out that Mr. Brown and the university’s president, John Sexton, are old friends, having been introduced years ago by a mutual friend, the Democratic political adviser Robert M. Shrum, who is a senior fellow at N.Y.U. Two years ago, Mr. Brown appointed Mr. Sexton as co-chairman of a Britain and United States study group on higher education in a global context. Indeed, the two share a vision of global interdependence that borders on zealous. In a 2008 speech in Boston, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Brown told the audience, which included Mr. Sexton, that for the “first time in human history we have the opportunity to come together around a global covenant, to reframe the international architecture and build the truly global society.”

Mr. Sexton, for his part, has been busy molding N.Y.U. into what he calls the “global network university,” which, as he recently wrote, “can foster the advancement of humankind in special ways.”

Mr. Brown, 59, will not teach courses and will not be paid, N.Y.U. officials said. But he will spend two weeks a year at the university’s New York campus, as well as a week in Abu Dhabi and a week at one of 12 study-abroad sites, participating in public events like those held on Tuesday. Mr. Brown will also meet with students in more intimate forums and lead a colloquium on global civil society. His is just the latest big international name to land on an American campus. Yale University also has a penchant for former British prime ministers, with Tony Blair teaching a course on faith and globalization for the third year. The Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa was teaching two courses at Princeton this semester when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature…

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