Tag Archives: Thomas Friedman

A Night with Thomas Friedman

25 Jan

–This post is written by UHP Freshman Dena Sholk

When I went to dinner last Thursday for the winners of the Freshman Writing Contest on Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, I expected to have an engaging and exciting evening. What I did not anticipate, was that I would be seated at a table next to President Steve Knapp, and two seats from Thomas Friedman, along with three other freshman and a professor.  Dean Siegel, Frank Sesno, and a host of other GW people were there as well.

The evening started with remarks from Dean Siegel and President Knapp. We dined for the next twenty minutes or so.  We discussed recent places we visited (Thomas Friedman was just in Hong Kong and Taiwan), books we enjoy reading (President Knapp was formerly a Professor of English), and our academic interests. Thomas Friedman’s a cool guy. He was genuinely interested in everything we had to say. He really listened. President Knapp told me about GW’s involvement in the relief effort in Haiti. Haiti’s first lady is a GW alumnus, and President Knapp said he had been in constant correspondence with her.

Six students then read their essays to Mr. Friedman, who was sitting three feet away from the podium.  While some of the essays were praiseworthy of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, others criticized the book as too idealistic and as lacking sufficient detail for how America will undergo a green revolution. One girl from China argued in favor of China’s development, contesting that China needs to industrialize just like the west. It is not fair for the United States and the West to limit China’s development when those countries are already developed. I found her essay very interesting. Throughout the readings, Thomas Friedman was cool, calm, and collective, and even laughed at some of the jokes. He stood up at the end of the essays, and thanked the students for their work. As an author, he said, it is great to be able to hear feedback.

After dinner, we went to Lisner Auditorium where Thomas Friedman gave his speech to the GW community. Lisner was packed! Friedman’s speech was largely based off of the book, as he cited excerpts from the book many times, and argued that America needs a green revolution. Hot, Flat, and Crowded was released a week before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in Fall 2008. Since its release, Friedman has reflected on the book and recently released an updated version with an additional chapter.  He argues that Americans have been living a lifestyle based on instantaneous gratification, rather than long-term, sustainable growth.  As a result, we pursued short-sighted policies, and developed a culture that polluted, bought homes we could not afford, and achieved obscene levels of consumption. That “American” lifestyle is now the envy of the world.  The planet, however, may not be able to handle more Americans.

Friedman’s main message is that America needs to tap into its unlimited resources: innovation and entrepreneurship.  Increased investment in research and development projects is needed to create clean, cheap, abundant electrons. Whoever is the first to create those clean, cheap, abundant electrons will be the global leader. That leader must be America.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded Blog still kickin’

10 Sep

This year’s freshmen reading program, focusing on Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded, has a blog over at http://2013readsandreacts.wordpress.com.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, head on over and see what’s up.  They’ve got some really interesting discussions over there and some fun stuff to think about.

Go show them how s-m-r-t you are, Honors students.

And if you haven’t read it yet, there are 50 copies of the book available at the library.  Just ask the Circulation Desks at either Gelman or Eckles.