Exchange to Change | September 2015 - Page 3

IOBack into the future The end of an anniversary year is also the time to look ahead: how do we want IOB to look by 2030, after another fifteen years of existence, and how should we shape this process? During the coming months, we will in fact take this question with us during some moments of internal reflection. Different things are, however, already clear from the outset. First, however well we carry out our planning exercise, the future is not really ours to determine. We can be sure that tomorrow’s future will not be what it used to be yesterday, to paraphrase Paul Valéry. The future will be determined in a process of permanent provocation, as Foucault would have it. Foucault’s concern was not that all kinds of planning and imagining the future would be fruitless exercises – and that we would to better to ‘go with the flow’ and await what comes. On the contrary, he wanted to emphasize that we systematically underestimate the moments of freedom and power all of us have – in varying degrees, for sure, but nevertheless – at different points in time and space. Second, IOB operates in the particular context of a shrinking continent. Shrinking, relatively speaking, as we are witnessing the emergence and processes of catch-up of part of what was once called the Third World. One of the consequences of this is that our student audience is changing, qualitatively and quantitatively. Scholarships are essential instruments to be able to invite students from the so-called least-developed countries, but they are no longer a life-and-death issue for our Master programs. But the European continent seems to be shrinking in an absolute sense too: notwithstanding the increasing integration of the world economy and the fact that the collateral and not-so-collateral damage of this process is increasingly felt on our very doorstep, European states seem to be less and less inclined to take up their global responsibility, however they would define it. Third, if there is one thing we ‘discovered’ during the last few years, it is that IOB is not really a stand-alone organization, but just a part of the broader whole of the University of Antwerp. Again, this is not a complaint about a lack of autonomy or agency, it is rather an invitation to think about ourselves and what we can do and be in university-wide terms. We are potentially much bigger than we think we are, and we need to be so, the agenda of global justice is also much bigger than the domain of development cooperation. Tom De Herdt 3