Meet the Dean: Manuel Muñiz and the state of International Relations

The puzzling events taking place in international relations are being driven by greater underlying themes represented by twin forces: technological change and globalization. Great economic prosperity, as never before, coupled with a vanishing social contract lies at the heart of the global commotion of these times. Such a context is being propelled by changes in technology that in turn directly impact the labor market and boost inequality.

In the middle of October, as the new academic year at the IE School of International Relations enters in full swing, Dean Manuel Muñiz invited students from the Masters (MIR) and Bachelor program for a presentation on some of the issues that the School is focusing on and are the pulse of global policy and international economy. These themes, and others, are already sparking debates in the lectures at the MIR, as they are omnipresent. No doubt they will be a main source of discussion in the months to come.

The global context in these times of rapid change is a world evolving around political upheaval and abundant contradictions in the economy which feed off each other. Widespread protest votes are mainstream – Germany and Austria being the most recent examples. The combination of the stagnation of income of the middle class, growing inequality and a radicalization of politics are three main pillars of today’s global scenario.

As Manuel Muñiz put it, “there is an economic argument to the political upheaval.” For example, “since the 1970s advanced economies have seen a strong productivity increases and stagnant labor income. This is a major breach of our social contract,” said the Dean to all international students who gathered in María de Molina, in the heart of Madrid. “From 1973 to 2013 productivity of goods and services in the US grew by over 240% while labor wages remained stagnant,” he mentioned as another example of the moment we are in.

Manuel, who obtained his analysis from strong economic data and used graphs to support his argument during the entire presentation, is the founding director of IE University’s Center for the Governance of Change, studying the above mentioned challenges and other changes in the public and private sector. Among the solutions and frameworks the Center is covering to manage these challenges is the proposition of a new social contract, including a transformation of the sources of income of the state and a new redistribution tool, as well as the needed change in role of the private sector.

The need to understand, analyze and explain such forces of change are key for the future of international relations. The transformation is here to stay and the complexity of the global vectors of action will only grow deeper and wider hence the socioeconomic conditions that we are able to improve today will be beneficial for generations to come.

Written by Alejandro Erquicia, MIR Student 2017/2018