By Cliff Foster
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock thinks of the city he leads in global terms. And he recommends that MSU Denver students think of themselves in the same way.
Hancock sketched his views of Denver’s place in the global economy and students’ place in the global workforce during a casual question- and answer session last Wednesday in the current social issues class taught by Associate Professor of Sociology Sheldon Steinhauser.
Steinhauser often recruits guest speakers for this course. “What I like to do is not just rely on a textbook or on theories alone, though they do need to understand theories, so I bring people in who have practitioner experience in the real world, and that helps round out the learning experience,” he said.
So on this evening the guest was Denver’s 45th mayor, standing in front of 14 students in West Classroom 237, engaging in a wide-ranging discussion that touched not only on globalization but on looming federal spending cuts, zoning, code enforcement, homelessness, growth, technology, water conservation and capitalism. He answered questions about gun control, mental health and his plan for an “aerotropolis,” a concept that would make Denver International Airport an even stronger magnet for commercial expansion.
Hancock believes Denver is ready for the big leagues of global business. “What I’m trying to do is put Denver on the global stage,” he said. “We’re able to compete with the best of them: Beijing, Shanghai, Bombay; Incheon, South Korea; Nairobi, Kenya.”
Denver’s geographic location and airport make it a contender in the world market. “You can go anywhere in this world within 16 hours,” he said.
“If you take the premise that great cities are created through connectivity then you realize Denver connected to the rest of the world is going to elevate this city on a global scale.”
So, what does all this mean for students?
In Hancock’s view, U.S. students must prepare themselves to compete with their counterparts around the world. During a trip to Shanghai, he observed a 5th grade classroom where students could name all the U.S. presidents in correct order. The class was asked why they were learning such lessons, Hancock recalled. “Because we are the next United States of America,” one student answered.
The point, Hancock said, is that “all of us are competing against the world.”
“Recognize that when you send me your resume for a job, just as quickly as you send it to me a young person in Beijing can send it to me,” Hancock told the students. “This is a global city. As we bring employers here, we want young people who are prepared to compete in a global workforce. ”
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