As we approach a milestone in the history of the IB – our 50th anniversary – we’ll be speaking to many members of our worldwide community to hear their views on the role of the IB in our increasingly complex world and where they would like to see the IB heading in the next 50 years. To kick-start this series, we spoke to George Rupp, Chair of IB Board of Governors.
In today’s increasingly complex world, what role does the IB play and how are we making an impact?
George Rupp: At the core of our mission of making the world a better and more peaceful place is the development of personal values that include a commitment to communities beyond the preoccupations of individual learners. To develop this commitment in a pluralistic world requires an awareness of and respect for multiple cultures. Never has our world needed this set of aspirations more! That is a key role of the IB and it is how we will have a greater impact in this increasingly complex world.
IB educators bring the IB mission to life in the classroom every day - what one piece of advice can you offer them to help them prepare their students for the careers of the future that don’t yet exist?
GR: My advice for students is to encourage them to know what they don’t yet know and therefore always to seek more adequate ways to understand the complexities of life. While I don’t suggest that the teacher quote either Hegel or the Upanishads directly, I think there is great wisdom in the notion that the truth is the whole. All of us will be better off if we are constantly aware that we have only a very partial grasp of that whole and must therefore always be on the move to more adequate understandings and abilities. This awareness is certainly relevant to preparing for careers in the future that don’t yet exist. But it is also crucial for living right now – which is why educators can and should persistently register this point with students of all ages.
While higher education institutions around the world are putting greater emphasis on internationalization, how can IB students contribute to their mission?
GR: IB graduates contribute substantially to this mission of increasing internationalization in education. I hear every day from colleagues in colleges and universities who praise the global awareness of IB graduates who are now their students. Fifty years ago, the IB was launched as a path-breaker and pace-setter for the movement toward a more inter-connected world. IB graduates can and should continue that leadership beyond their IB education.
What do you find most satisfying about your role as Chair of the IB Board of Governors?
GR: We, the IB Board of Governors, are proud guardians of the IB and the vision that was articulated by our founders. We work as a team to advance the interests of the organization and the students and teachers whom we are dedicated to serving. We, of course, coordinate closely with the IB’s Director General and the entire staff to execute this responsibility. But our role is also indispensable to the financial and organizational health of the institution, which is why I find it immensely satisfying to convene the Board as a team and keep it focused on our goal of enhancing educational programmes for ever increasing and ever diverse schools around the world.
How do you think an IB education will evolve in the next 50 years?
GR: The key to the future of the IB is the heritage of which we are justly proud. In my view, the best strategy for enhancing any institution is to identify its core strengths and to build further on those strengths as a whole. The organization’s strengths are: a challenging liberal education based on sound learning in the arts and sciences; a concern with social engagement to enhance communities both locally and globally; and a deep commitment to multi-cultural understanding and appreciation, including the serious study of at least one language other than the mother tongue. On that foundation, the IB can continue to build unsurpassed global educational programmes. Areas that invite further development include: pre-school, primary, and middle school programmes; career preparation; internet-enabled and enhanced learning; and a greater presence in the less-privileged sectors of all societies, including the economically-disadvantaged regions of the world. But the foundation of the IB can and should continue to be the core strengths that characterize its rising profile today.We can and should all be powerfully energized by what the IB can accomplish in the next 50 years.