New Commission to Pave Bold New Course for Tomorrow’s International Development Policy Leaders

New Commission to Pave Bold New Course for Tomorrow’s International Development Policy Leaders

posted 05/09/07

In an effort to bolster the leadership and training of international development professionals, a new commission will examine how the next generation of leaders can be better prepared to tackle such complex challenges as climate change and extreme poverty. Under the direction of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Commission on Education for International Development Professionals is a groundbreaking initiative mandated to help change the course of development education and create bold new leaders working to achieve a sustainable world.

International development practitioners — professionals who work for the United Nations, government ministries and nongovernmental organizations, for example — face complex issues such as conflict, disease control, and climate change that increasingly demand core knowledge of both natural and social sciences, as well as substantial in-the-field experience. The Commission was founded on the belief that tomorrow’s policy leaders must, therefore, have access to training, throughout their careers, that effectively develops the full spectrum of skills required to solve complex policy problems related to sustainable development.

“The scientific and managerial know how for addressing long-standing challenges such as extreme poverty as well as emerging ones like climate change require new ways of problem solving that are both innovative and cross-disciplinary,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and co-chair of the Commission. “Thanks to the vision of the MacArthur Foundation, the Commission’s work will be a major step forward for preparing tomorrow’s development and policy leaders to meet the complex and critical challenges ahead.”

“The MacArthur Foundation is committed to building a more just world, which requires professionals who are trained to meet the global development and policy challenges of tomorrow,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “By bringing together scholars and practitioners across disciplines and from around the world, this Commission can help fundamentally reshape and re-energize development education for the 21st century.”

The 19-person Commission, co-chaired by Sachs and John McArthur, associate director of the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, includes accomplished leaders from across a range of reputable academic and international development organizations including:

John DeGioia President, Georgetown University
Helene Gayle President & CEO, CARE
Lawrence Haddad Director, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex
Jim Kim François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health
Jeffrey Koplan Vice President for Academic Health Affairs, Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Emory University
Freddie Kwesiga African Regional Coordinator
Lee Yee-Cheong President, ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology
Livingstone Luboobi Vice-Chancellor, Makerere University
Goolam Mohamedbhai  President, of the International Association of Universities
John McArthur Associate Director, Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development, the Earth Institute
Milena Novy-Marx Program Officer, MacArthur Foundation
RK Pachauri Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Alice Pell Director, Cornell Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development
Jeffrey Sachs Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University
Laurence Tubiana Director, Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI)
Ann Veneman Executive Director, UNICEF
Virgilio Viana State Secretary for the Environment, Amazonas, Brazil
Xiao Geng Director, Brookings-Tsinghua Center, Tsinghua University
Ernesto Zedillo Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

“That such a distinguished and diverse group of leaders has come together to strengthen cross-disciplinary professional training is itself a testament to the need for such a Commission,” said John McArthur, Commission co-chair. “We hope that the Commission will make a significant contribution toward the future preparedness of development professionals and, in doing so, help advance solutions for some of the world’s most critical policy problems.”

The Commission will conduct a rigorous assessment of the educational needs of development managers and practitioners, and provide practical recommendations that focus on three levels of potential reforms: graduate degree programs, executive training and life-long learning initiatives, and organizational training programs. To complete its analysis, the Commission will consult with universities, governments and development practitioners working in related disciplines around the world.

The Commission’s conclusions and recommendations will be presented in a final report slated to be launched in September 2008. The Commission will also aim to adopt a real-time approach to its work, identifying practical initiatives that might be launched in collaboration with individuals and institutions around the world in advance of its final report.

About the MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media. With assets of over $6 billion and grants totaling $225 million annually, MacArthur is one of the nation’s largest private philanthropic foundations. For more information or to sign-up for a monthly e-newsletter please visit