Rice: Next Generation’s Leaders Will Mobilize Human Potential

December 5, 2013

CHICAGO - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discusses how maximizing human creativity and talents can keep countries at the head of the global pack.

The remainder of this century - and perhaps several more to come - will belong to the countries that can harness the power of human innovation and creativity.

That was the message former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told RSNA 2013 attendees this week.

“Whether you’re talking about answers to how to protect the environment from global climate change and still grow the economy or deal with the extraordinary information that can give people a better chance to handle crippling chronic disease, to extend life, or to find cures,” she said. “Whether you’re talking about reaching out to people in remote parts of the world who just want a better life - all of that comes from innovation, creativity, and human potential.”

And, it’s the governments that are best positioned to unlock human potential that will be the next generation of global leaders. The question, Rice said, is what should a country do to ensure it meets this challenge?

First, both the government and its population must eliminate the boundaries of ethnicity, race, religion, and nationality. To do this, immigrants must be welcomed, she said.

“We can’t see immigrants as the enemy. Immigration is a wellspring of innovation and creativity,” she said. “Roughly 40 percent of every new company in Silicon Valley has a first-generation immigrant as a founder.”

In that vein, she said, citizens must have the opportunities to work their way up the socioeconomic ladder; they should not be made a prisoner of the class into which they were born.

Second, governments must invest in high quality education. Without qualified teachers and appropriate resources, there’s a risk that a population could divide into a group of those who are capable and another group who aren’t.

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Last, it isn’t enough to teach knowledge, she said. Governments must fund the enterprise of knowledge creation. Supporting research is key to mobilizing human potential because it ultimately leads to the translation of discoveries into solutions to the problems societies face.

Ultimately, Rice said, being able to mobilize human potential means giving individuals the freedom of unique thought.

“Creativity and innovation don’t just happen,” she said. “Those countries who meet these challenges and fully realize human potential will, indeed, dominate the next century and probably centuries to come.”