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Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan emphasized the importance of imagination in achieving a better world in a talk following his receipt of a honorary degree at Old Dominion University Oct. 3. He called for an initiative to improve the water supplies, energy resources and environment of the poorer regions of the Middle East and the rest of the Third World.

President Roseann Runte awarded Hassan an honorary doctor of humane letters during an academic ceremony attended by students, faculty and members of the Club of Rome, an international think-tank that held its annual meeting on the ODU campus Oct. 1-3. Hassan is president and Runte is a member of the club, which is best known for its groundbreaking 1972 report on the limits of natural resources, "Limits to Growth."

"I have sometimes been called a dreamer or an idealist, and there may be some truth in that," said Hassan, the younger brother of Jordan's late King Hussein and his brother's closest political adviser. "But practicality would not be worth much without an ideal toward which we could direct it. We need to combine all our knowledge with a little wisdom to make progress."

After quoting Einstein's famous statement that imagination is more important than knowledge, Hassan said, "I would like you to imagine with me, and with many hopeful people..., a better world that recognizes that art and science are not only intellectual endeavors in their own right, but ultimately means in which we can further our human dignity and understanding."

Hassan noted that many who have no sway over politics can nonetheless make a difference in world relationships and understanding by creating solutions to third world problems such as infrastructure, energy, clean water and environment.

The importance of governing with wisdom and knowledge is also critical to overcoming the problems fueled by fundamentalism. Hassan said nearly 70% of the region's population is under 25 and would subscribe to the "sad reality" portrayed in a poem by Aime Cesaire.

"'My name: offended. My middle name: humiliated. My status: rebel. My age: the Stone Age. My race: the fallen race,'" he said. "As Cesaire's poem suggests, the majority of third world youth are not governed by governments. They are governed by the inability to bridge the distance, the longest distance in the world, from (the head) to (the heart)."

A full-length videostreamed archive of the ceremony can be viewed at http://www.lions.odu.edu/org/ats/multimedia/streamed_events/events/rome_degree/.

This article was posted on: October 3, 2005

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