Alumni Profile: Jeremy Kinsman '58
Writer, Former Canadian Diplomat, Resident International Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Visiting Diplomat at Ryerson University, and Public Company Director
Jeremy Kinsman epitomizes the importance of global education in schools. Having served as Canadian Ambassador in Moscow and Rome, High Commissioner in London, Ambassador to the EU in Brussels, and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Jeremy stresses the value of equipping students for today’s global society. “It is critical to make young people aware of the merits of diversity,” he says, “and to enable them, from a very young age, to understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.”
Jeremy passed through LCC before the school prioritized global citizenship as an essential component of the curriculum, and he is impressed by the tremendous opportunities now available, the international trips and student exchanges. Recalling a talk he delivered to an LCC graduating class several years ago, he remarked on how the students were genuinely reflective of the diversity of Canada’s population.
Working on behalf of a country that Jeremy says is admired and, to some degree, envied has given him great pride. As a Canadian Foreign Service Officer for 40 years, he was an advocate of liberal internationalism, a foreign policy doctrine that encourages international cooperation to balance the competitive pursuit of national interests, which can undermine our ability to work as a community. “Liberal internationalism is part of Canada’s DNA,” he says. “We are there so often to help, and while much of the world is turning inward, Canada is not. We are committed to pluralism. This is why education is so important.”
Though Jeremy has since left the Canadian Foreign Service, he continues to share his experiences and expertise at the University of California, Berkeley, and Ryerson University. At Berkeley, he creates and facilitates workshops on a variety of topics ranging from democracy in Russia to identity and the management of pluralism in our societies. At Ryerson, he provides public talks several times a year and is currently preparing a presentation on the European Union and Brexit. He contributes regularly to Policy Magazine and recently had a chapter published about Georges Vanier in Legacy, a book focused on the French-Canadian influence in North America.
Jeremy believes that learning about our history is fundamental to understanding today’s international institutional system. It would come as no surprise then, that this part of LCC’s course curriculum was what he liked most. “History in high school tends to focus on stories because it’s easy,” he says. “But at LCC, history was presented with its full set of contradictions by teachers who really understood it. That was very important.”
Further reflecting on his time at LCC, Jeremy admits that he would have preferred a coeducational environment. While he understands some of the arguments favouring single-sex education, he says that it is really just an evasion of reality. “In addition to high school, I also went to a university with men only and when I got out into the world there was a real awkwardness. There had been no give and take with girls. We didn’t discuss homework or Hemingway, or anything we were learning,” he says. “But in life, men and women are side by side, doing things together.”
Though Jeremy would have benefited from a coed school that focused on preparing global citizens, two defining characteristics of LCC today, he does have a great deal of affection and respect for his high school. “The school had a certain spirit and created a caring community. The teachers treated their students as individuals and I truly believe that they brought out the best in me,” he says. “Had I not gone to LCC, I think I may have wallowed. I had to take three streetcars to get there, but it was well worth it.”