Congratulations IEP graduates

Fernando M. Reimers

As you receive your Harvard degrees this week as masters in education, you will be the last class of graduates in the International Education Policy program to do so. And as you graduate, you will join a community of twenty cohorts of graduates of this program, who in different ways are advancing educational opportunities for all around the world.

I thank you for your trust in having joined this community, and especially for your commitment to advancing the opportunities to empower others through education. I especially want to thank you for the trust that joining a community of colleagues from many different countries and cultural backgrounds would prepare you well to do this challenging and important work. I share your confidence that to improve the world through education, it is essential not just that we learn to do this in collaboration with others, but that we do so in communities that reflect as much of the rich diversity of humanity as possible. How else are we to change the world through education but with the people of the world?

This belief in the power of collaborating across national and cultural boundaries is the essence of Terence idea ‘I am human, and therefore nothing human is foreign to me’. This recognition of our interdependence is also the cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the movement it inspired to educate all of humanity.

In our conversations about education, learning from the many different experiences which shape your views, I continuously learn the power of Terence’s idea, and become more human. This is also the essence of a global education, the belief in the power of bringing together people from different cultural backgrounds, so they learn from those differences. In following the careers and work of the graduates of this program I am reminded that the achievement of the universal right to education requires people who take responsibility for the hard work of creating and improving the systems and programs that make that right a reality. Creating those opportunities of a global education that would prepare you to advance the global education movement, for you and for those who preceded you, has been the aspiration of the international education policy program over the last two decades.

I thank you also for your ambition to make the world better through education, for your belief that learning can help people become better and contribute to a world that is more humane, inclusive, fair and sustainable. The creation of such opportunities to learn, for all children and adults, requires hard work and skilled leadership. I appreciate your commitment to be part of that collective effort, the global education movement of education for all. I am grateful that, over twenty years, the international education policy program has attracted talented, committed and ambitious leaders such as yourselves, determined to creating such educational opportunities for others.

It is the combination of such high levels of ambition to change the world, the commitment to do the hard work necessary to advance opportunities for all, and the understanding that learning to do this work requires that we learn with and from others from diverse cultural backgrounds, reflecting the richness of humanity, engaging with a comparative and international curriculum that that has produced the remarkable community of graduates of this program you now join.

While the international education policy program will no longer exist as an academic program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the community of graduates of the program of which you are now a member will go on for as long as you continue advancing the aspiration to provide all people opportunities to become self-authoring individuals and contributing members of a better world. Your shared experience in the IEP community in this institution will provide you the confidence of belonging to a global education movement much bigger than all of us, but of which the graduates of this program are important contributors.

So go on and advance the important work that your studies have prepared you for and do that in each other’s company. The need for your efforts has never been greater. It has been a great privilege to meet you.

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Fernando M. Reimers

Expert in Global Education, researching and teaching how to educate children and youth so they can thrive in complex and fluid times.