Blair to continue working with Yale

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrapped up his first semester at Yale with a major December address that laid out significant expansion plans for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

The University’s Faith & Globalization initiative — a partnership between the School of Management, the Divinity School and Blair’s foundation — will grow over the next two years to become a major Universitywide effort, Blair and Yale officials pledged Dec. 11.

In that time, the University will work with the London-based foundation to publish a major book on the subject of faith and globalization and establish student internships at the foundation’s London offices. Meanwhile, Blair said his foundation would base staff on campus and make Yale the headquarters of its United States operations.

The Faith & Globalization initiative, to be spearheaded by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, will also expand course offerings on the subject of faith and sponsor discussions encouraging Christian-Muslim dialogue, including two forums to be held at Yale in 2010 and 2012.

Before the address, Blair taught the final session of his seminar in Linsly-Chittenden Hall. The class — entitled “Faith and Globalization: Where do we go from here?” — reviewed topics the course had already covered during the semester and provided a final look at the junction of faith and globalization.

Blair, who spoke to the News and other local media outlets in a roundtable discussion at the President’s House before his seminar, had said in a telephone interview on the eve of his first class in September that he was nervous about returning to the classroom after so many years.

“I really enjoyed it,” Blair said Dec. 11. “I was a bit apprehensive because this was a completely different thing for me. But once the students got less shy with me and I got less shy with them — then it was fine. We had a really good time together.”

Blair attended every third meeting of the seminar, which he co-taught with Divinity School professor Miroslav Volf. Speaking to reporters, Blair admitted that he did not have much time to explore Yale or New Haven during his visits to campus this semester.

But the former prime minister suggested that could change when he returns to campus next fall for the second year of his three-year commitment to teach at Yale.

“I haven’t been able to go and try out the pizza,” Blair said. “I’m really sorry about that, but this is going to be rectified soon because everyone’s been telling me about it.”

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