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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sir Duncan Michael's Speech at Graduation Ceremony 2007

University of Edinburgh Graduation Ceremony 26 June 2007
Sir Duncan Michael’s response (As spoken)



Friends

Next week 60 years ago I first saw Edinburgh, the Castle ox red in the evening sun. I fell in love with Cities, and so it remains today.

Little did I, know at 10, that I would graduate here as an engineer or that this University would pay me to enlighten myself further at Leeds. Or that six decades later I would be here with you.

You sit today where I sat in 1958. I was as bright and optimistic as you, the future still folded but infinite in its possibilities. You have a big job ahead. The world is at a choosing point. On the one hand unimaginable wealth, thank you engineers, from unimaginable invention and creation, admittedly very ill distributed amongst people, but self evidently here. Engineering and Science have been the only show in town for over 100 years. Other Institutions remain in arrears, “no longer at ease in the old dispensation, clutching their gods”. The momentum and fruitfulness of the open, intellectual way can be good for another 100 years. Beyond that I cannot see.

We are getting smart enough to see and almost to understand the forward effects of what we are creating. The engineers are now fumbling with philosophy and ethics, recovering from Galileo’s cop out. Big changes just ahead, some see darkness, others great opportunities, or not seen at all. A couple of degrees warmer, people in the wrong places, water too little and too much, end of cheap raw minerals, squabbles over food and land. It is not that bad you know. The fantastic opportunity for your generation is to take all humanity through this phase safely and wisely. No one else can do it. And it can be done I am quite sure.

You will find yourself having to fight to change the ways of Institutions and sometimes their values, the Lawyers, the Rich, the Churches, the Powerful, the Military, the Bankers, even Governments and Universities as they compulsively promote the status quo ante. You can do it from the inside or the outside, for love or for money, noisily or calmly. Just do it. Never doubt yourselves, as you work to make the world a Better Place for everyone. I will be watching in hope.

Thank you.



Duncan Michael, June 2007

1 comment:

James said...

This is the most awesome speech I have ever heard or read. Wow.