Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any discipline often prompts an important question: what next?
To help provide some answers to students, Concordia’s Department of Political Science invited Gregory Newman who is senior counsel with the Department of Justice of Canada and a Concordia graduate to speak to this next generation of decision-makers.
“I was a political science student here once upon a time, and I can say without hesitation that the lessons imparted to me during those years still stick with me today,” said Newman, who is also team lead for the Departmental Justice Legal Services Unit at the International Security Branch of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
Newman, who later obtained law degrees and an MBA, is part of a team that oversees the Global Partnership Program, the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program, the Anti-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, the Afghanistan Program, the Global Peace and Security Program and the START (Stabilization and Re-construction Task Force for Failed and Fragile States) Program.
Although he spoke on matters concerning his main portfolios, such as the risk of acquisition of weapons of mass destruction posing a critical threat to Canada and global security, his talk focused on what are the secrets to being successful after getting a BA in political science?
Newman stressed repeatedly that his “poli sci” exposure provided the bedrock for critical thinking. “From my experience, the things that you are going to encounter are nothing that you will find in a text book anywhere,” he said.
He gave the example of trying to complete a treaty with Russia through the Global Partnership Program. In an attempt to achieve its end goal, Canada granted Russia intellectual property rights. However, it had the opposite effect.
“In Russia there is a proverb that says that the only free cheese is in a trap,” said Newman. “The point is, almost daily you will face negotiations. In order to do these, you really have to understand the cultural environment and other factors and be able to think. If you don’t have an appreciation for these areas you are setting yourself up for failure.”
What makes a difference in a person’s career is judgment. A foundation in theory and policy is fantastic, yet Newman maintains being informed on pragmatic elements is equally important.
“Concordia will give you the foundation to think critically, which is a value that will be rewarded in the marketplace,” he said. “If you can combine that with clear communication skills and supplement it with other realms — I think it is a very desirable degree.
“To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Once you get your degree, it is not the beginning of the end. It may be the end of the beginning. It is a constant learning process. That is what life should be.”
• Concordia Department of Political Science
• Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada