Former British PM Blair 'nervous' As Yale Teaching Gig Begins

This story was written by Thomas Kaplan, Yale Daily News


His class roster is finalized, his syllabus printed and ready to go. In mere hours, on the eve of his first class, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will arrive on the Yale Universitycampus for the start of his teaching career.

And while Yales newest visiting professor does not break a sweat when staring down world leaders, when it comes to a class of eager Elis, it may be another story.

I'm sort of a bit nervous for it, really, Blair confided Thursday morning in a telephone interview with the News. I was never a star student, and Im coming along mixing with a whole lot of people who Im sure are a whole lot more clever and smarter than I am.

Blair, 55, begins on Friday his semester-long stint co-teaching a seminar on faith and globalization in the School of Management and Divinity School, for which hundreds of eager students applied for admission. He will also address Yale students, faculty and staff in a conversation with University President Richard Levin at Woolsey HallFriday afternoon.

In the interview, Blair said he was particularly excited for the chance to teach, something he has not done before, and to be able to do it about a topic for which he cares deeply.

These issues have to be explored in depth, not just through making speeches but through interacting with young people who are interested in the same topics, Blair said. The chance to actually come to such a great institution as Yale and be able to interact with students for me, its a tremendous privilege.

Blairs eldest son, Euan Blair GRD 08, graduated in the spring with a masters degree in international relations, and the former prime minister said he was in part drawn to Yale because of the positive experience his son had at the University. His stint here as the Howland Distinguished Fellow will also allow him to further the work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which launched in May.

Blair said he hopes the class will be a model for teaching elsewhere around the world on the topic of faith. Theres an opportunity here to do something that is really new and different and far-reaching in its effect, he said.

Blair was expected to arrive on campus late Thursday evening. Earlier Thursday, he was in New York City to tape an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
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