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Professor Pericles Lewis, President of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, was the keynote speaker at the Dialogue on International Partnerships in Higher Education on 10 May 2016, at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. This dialogue was organised by LKI with the support of the Embassy of the United States of America in Sri Lanka.
The dialogue was conducted as part of a study on International Higher Education Partnerships initiated by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. The study and resulting recommendations will consider how international partnerships in higher education could facilitate the necessary skills and mind-sets among Sri Lanka’s university graduates, to build and secure Sri Lanka’s status as a vibrant regional hub.
President Lewis emphasised the value of a liberal arts education and noted it should be factored in when a country nurtures higher education partnerships with foreign universities. He highlighted that the hallmarks of a liberal arts education – active learning, critical thinking and a multidisciplinary curriculum – produces well informed citizens who can make effective decisions related to voting and other matters of national importance. President Lewis also cited the premium accorded to liberal arts graduates in successful technological companies like Apple, observing that it shows that “attention to design, attention to people’s needs, and attention to the creative side of industry is important for innovation.”
The audience consisted of leading figures from Sri Lanka’s private and public sectors who had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a broader discussion on international partnerships in higher education and liberal education. Alongside President Lewis sat Mr. Tissa Jayatilika who enriched the discussion with his wealth of expertise in leading the United States–Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission. The dialogue was moderated by the Executive Director of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne.