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Honors Lecture Examines Foreign Perception of U.S.

By Zachary Ruprecht

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Dr. Ambikar explains how the United States is spending its foreign aid during her Honors Lecture. Photo by Zach Ruprecht.

Thursday night at Bemidji State University, Dr. Rucha Ambikar gave an Honors Lecture about perceptions of the United States around the world.

The lecture, titled “The American Abroad: How the Rest of the World Sees Us,” focused on the United States’ economy, foreign aid, military spending, environmental issues and leadership. Nearly eighty people, including many honors students, were in attendance.

Ambikar, assistant professor of sociology at BSU, was born in India but has lived most of her life in the United States. “I am both from abroad, and from here,” said Ambikar. Her past has given her a unique perspective on foreign judgment of the U.S.

Sharing her insights, she explained that Americans are charitable and friendly, but also wasteful and hypocritical. Ambikar also pointed out that America accounts for only four percent of the world population, but thirty-seven percent of the world’s military spending. While the United States remains a popular destination of choice for some, others see us as the biggest threat to world peace.

Several problems, which Americans regularly choose to ignore, were brought forward in the lecture. Nathan Roggenbuck, an Honors student attending the lecture said, “It was a little bit depressing.”

Dr. Ambikar’s was the first of eight Honors Lectures this semester. Bemidji State’s Honors Program was created in the late 1960s with a goal to create an inspiring and challenging experience for exceptional students. Today, the goal remains the same.

“A good presentation should leave the audience with more questions, and every Honors Lecture I attend generates thought provoking questions from the audience,” said Dr. Donna Pawlowski, a BSU faculty member. “I thought it was enlightening and sort of pushed the boundaries for us to really consider and think about our wealth compared to other countries.”