For any public policy wonk, the current situation in Myanmar is kind of a serendipity; to witness closely, how different policies implemented by agents in different sectors change or establish key institutions, which in turn change nations. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that the current situation in Myanmar resembles the policy lab that public policy professionals and academics have long lamented to be deprived of- in their own countries. And it doesn’t end here, there is a piece for everyone: from economic development guys to political reform and social policy fans, to researchers of ethnic conflicts, nation building and reconciliation pundits and environmentalists.
Moreover, due to the collective will formed inside the country – at least in discursive repertoire of public officials- there seems to exist a welcoming atmosphere among policy makers to hear new voices and international institutions on how to address their serious woes plaguing almost every measure necessary to hold their nation together. This is a great motivation for all those with a desire to make a difference in world, to believe that their professional recommendations will be heard and may well be implemented. Even the thought of having such an impact, and living to see the results of your work is thrilling.
It was these reasons that convinced the International Policy Center of the Ford School to choose Myanmar as the case country for International Economic Development Program of 2014. The unique history of country in the past decades and the pace that the country is changing, provides a situation of flux in policy making that is extremely suited for IEDP’s core philosophy, which is to provide hands-on experience through combining field research with classroom learning to analyze emerging issues.
A friend of mine on IEDP team, once told me “you know….It will be kind of cool, because in twenty years when Myanmar has developed and turned into a developed tourism hub, we can say that we were there, witnessed the change and contributed to it; “Tough my dear friend retains a highly optimistic perspective of Myanmar’s future, his statement bears some level of truth.