Academic journal article The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs

Editor's Note

Academic journal article The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

The world has changed immensely since my class arrived at Fletcher in August 2015. Populism is resurgent around the globe, exhibited by the election of President Trump, the Brexit vote, and Duterte's actions in the Philippines, among others. Much of the West looks inward while other powers have risen and extended their international reach, both economically and militarily. Challenges seem endless: the United States has taken limited military action against the Syrian government; tensions continue to rise on the Korean Peninsula; millions of people remain food insecure in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and many other parts of the world; and some 65 million people are displaced worldwide-a modern-day record high. With the barrage of seemingly devastating news, it is hard to remain positive about what lies ahead.

It is important to remember, though, that where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. Here at Fletcher, I have studied international development, which is often criticized because it's still a relatively young field, some of its failures have been more widely publicized than its successes, and it is really hard to do well. But development has also changed the world for the better. It has led to the more than 99 percent decrease in polio cases each year-in 1988, polio affected more than 350,000; in 2016, that number has dropped to 42 and polio is only present in three countries. Development helped Botswana become the fastest growing economy of the past 50 years, demonstrated by a steep decline in poverty rates from 50 percent to 19 percent and a per capita income increase from $18 in 1966 to more than $16,000 today. And we can thank development programs for numerous efforts that provide food for the world's starving populations; in February 2017 alone, World Food Programme was able to reach nearly 10 million food-insecure people in Yemen and Syria. And this just represents one field.

Successes in international fields have been possible because wellmeaning, determined people have led the charge in making a positive difference in our increasingly complex world. They did not accept defeat because the work was hard. …

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