For event planners who want the details in third person:
Mark Milke, PhD. is a political scientist, policy analyst, author, columnist and keynote speaker. He has also served as a consultant to philanthropists.
Mark's policy, popular and academic work includes five books, including his newest—Ralph vs. Rachel: A tale of two Alberta premiers—dozens of studies and over 1,000 columns including regular columns in Maclean's, the Globe and Mail, National Post and the Calgary Herald. His public policy studies have been published by think tanks in Canada, the United States and Europe. His 20-year career in the media spotlight often forces politicians and company presidents to respond—publicly. It's why Mark receives calls from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, political leaders and CEOs. They want reality-based analysis, useful data and informed opinions.
Mark’s topics touch on everything from taxes, civil rights, and private property to airline competition, insurance, aboriginal policy, government monopolies and the folly of crony capitalism to lighter topics such as architecture and hiking.
Mark was born and raised in Kelowna, spent a few summers tree-planting in northern Canada, and two years in Japan teaching English; he currently lives in Calgary. His non-work interests include hiking, photography, architecture and history. On the volunteer side, Mark has canvassed for diabetes, is the immediate past President of Civitas—a Society for Ideas and is the current president of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary.
On the more personal side...
History has always fascinated me.
As a kid, I used to read the World Book encyclopedia. I’d read about Winston Churchill, Canadian prime ministers and American presidents. I’d learn about history's tyrants: Hitler, Stalin, Mao and others who battered our world.
(For those who wonder if I was normal—partly: I also read comic books: The Archie ones and Marvel's Spider-Man, the latter my favorite.)
But history and ideas: I always wondered what led to history’s tragedies and the opposite: why some countries and people flourish.
Harmful ideas drove the last century’s tyrannies—communism and Nazism.
And what led to the abolition of slavery, equal rights for women, and for a country to thrive and provide freedom and opportunity?
As a start: Better ideas, ones grounded in reality about human nature and the world around us, and also in possibilities.
Family stuff: Dodging bullets
Individuals also matter: Leaders such as Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt.
But so too our families and their choices.
I recall talks with grandparents, uncles, aunts and my parents. Some family details: On the paternal side, my grandmother came from Ukraine but not before her family was transported around the Soviet Union in the 1920s.
Being of German “kulak” stock, my grandmother was lucky to escape Ukraine before the 1930s. Coming to Canada, she settled in Edmonton where she met her husband, my Polish-born grandfather. He arrived in Canada, in Halifax, in 1929.
Both dodged historical bullets - Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union - and knew it. It's why they never had any sympathy for "reds" or fascists; it's why they were always grateful they left Europe before both the Nazis and the Soviets rolled over it.
Perhaps their influence explains my early interest in history, my attempts to figure it all out.
Speaking of dodged bullets, my maternal great-great grandfather came from Prussia, ended up in Wisconsin and fought for the north in the Civil War. I have a picture of him in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1865. (That's him to the right.) He was 29. Post-war, he eventually he made his way to Saskatchewan.
All those individuals helped create my history, as a Canadian instead of a Pole, German, Ukrainian or American.
Ideas and Individuals and choices
Ideas and individuals matter to history, great big History with a capital “H" and also to our own histories.
That’s why one of my talks describes how ideas, individuals and interests - our priorities and what we choose to do with them - combine to change our world, your world.
The career details include an M.A. thesis on why the 'unique' East Asian values argument prevalent in some 1990s-era capitals (see Beijing circa 1989 and after) was a political excuse to repress citizens. My PhD in International Relations and Political Philosophy came with a dissertation: I looked at why some Canadians are reflexively anti-American. (There are historical reasons but not justifiable modern ones.)
Beyond university, my career thus far includes analysis, writing and publishing: policy papers, books and columns.