Exchange to Change Sept 2016 - Page 3

edito Letter from the Chair The Exchange to Change magazine is one of the instruments to cultivate exchange with our students and alumni. Promoting such an exchange is an integral part of organizing Master programmes on development in the South. In this way we are not just keeping track of where our students evolve after studying at IOB, we also think that a vibrant alumni network can play an important role in the ability of our alumni to act as change agents: exchange to change! None of all this – the magazine, the Master programmes, not even the Institute itself – could exist, however, without the active participation of the Flemish and Belgian governments, public European institutions who see it as their responsibility to invest in global south-inclusive networks of reflection and exchange to promote societal change outside of Europe. Flanders and Belgium are certainly not alone in this: almost all European countries consider similar investments in development studies institutes and expertise as part and parcel of their foreign policy and international commitment. In part such an investment responds directly to European commitments at the OECD/DAC level. In part it also responds to a general concern by European citizens for global justice. And in part it may reflect – as former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz formulated it, the general diplomatic interest of Western countries to create interlocutors in a wide variety of contexts that may be instrumental in realizing opportunities for mutually beneficial change. A reference to Schultz is appropriate here, as he explicitly saw such an investment as part of a long-term security strategy in what he conceived of an era of international terrorism. But our interest in such investments in international networks of reflection goes even deeper. IOB’s knowledge network may also prove valuable in exposing our own concepts of social justice and development – and the way in which we have organised ourselves and our European societies – to the judgment of others. Justice must not only be done: it must also be seen to be done. This message becomes all the more pertinent at the moment of debating on fair ways of dealing with global issues like the global economic crisis, political refugees and climate change. Exchange to change Europe too! Perhaps it is time to remember and confirm the ultimate grounds for public investment in exchange to change. Especially as, from next year onwards, IOB has been granted the opportunity to invite six more scholarships from the least developed countries and, in addition, to organize its Master programmes in much closer collaboration with its academic partners in the South. Within five years, our students will have the opportunity to pass through three different continents before obtaining their diploma. Exchange to change! Tom De Herdt Chair IOB Exchange to change September 2016 3