Indulge me, if you would, a fantasy. Let’s construct the ideal learning environment for anti-corruption education.
Let’s see. Not too many students, but not too few. Say, 25 or so. They need to have intellectual passion, of course. And sincerity of conviction — a real belief in the importance and relevance of what we’re doing.
Did I say relevance? Let’s imagine they occupy meaningful positions in anti-corruption compliance or enforcement. That way they’d have many years of practical experience, and would immediately return from the course to put their learning into practice.
This is starting to sound ridiculous, I know, but let’s keep going.
They wouldn’t be from the same culture, or country, or region of the world. Oh no — we’d have students from the developed and developing worlds, the global north and the south, the east and the west. Sure, we’d have the U.S. western Europe, Australia, and, say, Japan, but throw in one or two even three of the BRIC nations; lots of countries in the middle development swath; and even countries now building their anti-corruption institutions in the wake of a brutal civil war, like Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Let’s spice it up with rich cultural and religious diversity with Hindus from India, Muslims from Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, and beyond, Christians of diverse cultural, regional, and theological stripes, and a good solid contingent of non-deists too.
We’d have at least one student from the very top of the Corruption Perceptions Index — say, Denmark — and from countries now struggling mightily with corruption, like Afghanistan. And we want all sectors represented: public, private, and civil.
I suppose they’d need a common language. Just to fantasize, I’ll make it my own: English. But with a rich panoply of accents.
They’d be eager to speak their mind and share their experiences, but not in a posturing or competitive way; as we said, the sincerity of conviction and purpose needs to be there.
And shoot, just to top it all off, let’s say they get along really well as a group, with a high level of collegiality and effective self-governance.
Grand reveal: this exists.
I just saw it with my own eyes, and participated in it for four glorious days.
Housed in a remodeled, 300-year-old regal building just outside Vienna, it brings in students and professors from around the world to deeply engage with the theory and practice of anti-corruption enforcement. The leadership and administration are top-notch.
And as I write from 30,000 feet above the Atlantic, it’s hard to believe I’m not seeing a castle in the clouds. But this is real. I’m telling you, I was just there.
As a learning environment, I don’t know how many places like IACA exist in the world. Quite possibly none. But the most remarkable thing is not that there’s only one. It’s that there’s even one at all.
Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Associate Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. He’s the author of the ebook Olympic Anti-Corruption Report: Brazil and the Rio 2016 Games (available here). He’ll be a speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.