The Commonwealth Foundation, one of the three intergovernmental pillars of the Commonwealth, has a specific mandate to amplify the voice of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion citizens.
The Foundation was dismayed to learn of the planned closure of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies—and we are convinced that this decision was made without a full appreciation of what is being lost. I speak particularly of the rich contribution that the Institute has made, over many years, to cultivating a critical understanding of the Commonwealth; its complicated legacy; and its potential to contribute to a future based on justice and equality.
It is well understood that these difficult times require hard decisions. However, the proposal to close the Institute certainly appears to lack strategic foresight, most especially for a University which has built its reputation on innovation and excellence in teaching, outreach and research. The Institute embodies all of those qualities and its continued existence would, I believe, contribute to the University’s own longer-term flourishing.
I urge the University to reconsider this decision, reflecting fully on the place that the Institute for Commonwealth Studies occupies within a living, breathing network of people and ideas. And I encourage the many individuals and groups that have drawn inspiration and strength from the work of the Institute to make their voices heard.
Dr Anne T. Gallagher AO is Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation.