Why a source book?
The International Academy for Leadership (Internationale Akademie für
Führungskräfte – IAF) has been active in Gummersbach, Germany, since 1995.
The task it – and its predecessor in Portugal – was given was a threefold one:
- to provide an opportunity to deepen knowledge of liberalism as a political and economic philosophy and a practical approach to dealing with problems and issues that confront us all in the context of a globalising world
- to provide ample opportunity to engage in political dialogue
- to impart invaluable experience of intercultural exchange.
Initially an ambitious experiment, the IAF has become a respected institution
within the “liberal family” and has proven itself as a vehicle for forging lasting
international networks and even friendships.
The policy was, from the very beginning, one of combining the above in every
single event. As modern political dialogue requires, all events were interactive
and saw participants as resource persons. Methodologies were used that maximise active involvement in every part of an event. The Academy has always
encouraged variation and experimentation in methodology, a characteristic
appreciated by many former participants and emulated in many countries of
Recently, the IAF has extended its activities to the virtual world of the internet
and now offers a number of blended learning events as seminars of the Inter-
national e-Academy. The latter also provides IAF alumni with an e-Community
– the Liberal World Club – devoted to follow-up and networking. Its work in
this field is considered exemplary and in 2008 the IAF was awarded a prestigious
prize, the EureleA – European E-Learning Award, for its pioneering role in
international and intercultural e-learning.
An important insight we have gained is the need for materials on liberalism,
materials that are also easy to read and follow.
Many participants are trained and work in professions that do not expose them
to liberal thought and ideas. In many parts of the world, access to the world
of liberalism is restricted, often for political reasons. Liberalism is still considered
to be dangerous, a “contagious disease” as it were. Both the existence
of authoritarian regimes and the ascendancy of socialism in the 20th century
played their respective parts in discouraging the flow of liberal materials. In
many countries there are few publications people who are interested can
access. This is changing slowly, but it is changing too slowly we feel.
At least as serious as the problem of access is the lack of introductory materials
that can easily be understood by non-philosophers, people who are not
political scientists and non-economists. The A B Cs of liberalism are not readily
available and, indeed, there are few opportunities even in long-established
democracies to gather or to expose oneself to an overview of basics. The IAF
has attempted to close this gap by fostering the production or dissemination
of didactical or educational materials and information of an introductory kind.
Until now such material is disseminated within seminars, not outside. This is
something that needs to be changed.
We often find ourselves distributing materials from other IAF seminars when
faced by requests for further information or orientation. Furthermore, we often
have to deal with requests for introductory materials from bureaus of the
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and our counterpart organisations
abroad. These, and a number of other considerations, have prompted us to produce a source book based on work of the Academy in the field of liberalism.
The other considerations were:
- to present participants with a tailor-made and carefully edited product that covers their subject at the Academy and related subjects from otherevents to use for reference and for ideas when developing similar eventsin their respective home countries;
- to allow potential candidates for IAF events to get a better picture of what IAF events are all about;
- to prepare future IAF participants for the discussions that await them.
Scope of the source book and contents
This publication does not cover IAF events devoted to developing political,
strategic and communication skills. It also does not cover events dealing with
topical subjects. Instead the focus is on liberalism as a political mainstream
and its most enduring concerns and characteristics including:
- the crucial importance of freedom of the individual (including freedom as the central value of the liberal value system)
- property as a symbiotic aspect of that freedom
- rule of law as the precondition for upholding freedom
- liberal education policy as a road to enlightenment and freedom
- the secular nature of freedom (requiring, inter alia, the separation of religion and state).
The materials selected and presented in this book are from a variety of seminars
and are ordered in chapters and as follows:
- Introductory texts, most of them written specially for the respective IAF seminars from which they are taken
- Follow-up reading selected from the work of contemporary liberal thinkers and designed to give participants of IAF events a deeper insight into subjects they have discussed
- Overviews of discussions or agreements reached by participants during the course of seminars or online events
- Presentations by facilitators or by participants in outline form
- Examples of methods used to discuss important subjects relevant to the promotion of freedom
- A series of liberal quotations (with sources)
- A list of books currently available for participants who wish to deepen their knowledge of liberalism as a political and economic philosophy.
Director, International Academy for Leadership