The Peterson Symposium
2012 The Hague
2009 Carol Bellamy
2008 His Highness the Aga Khan
2007 Daniel Ritchie
2006 Martha C Piper
2005 William A McComish
The Peterson lectures (now the Peterson Symposium) were inaugurated in 1989 to commemorate the commitment of Alec Peterson (131 kb, PDF) to the International Baccalaureate® (IB) as its first director general from 1966–77. From the start, he had been attracted to the "IB project" developed by teachers at the International School of Geneva in the early 1960s. This project encompassed so much of Alec's own desire for a broad-based education favouring critical-thinking skills, community service and an international perspective.
Alec was a Scotsman who read at Oxford and quickly gained a reputation in Britain as an educator who wanted to reform the A-level system. His work with Mountbatten in Malaysia during the second world war gave him a zest for promoting world peace and inroads into diplomatic and political circles on an international scale. He was for many years (until 1977) chairman of the editorial board of the prestigious periodical Comparative Education.
A highly respected and broadly travelled educator, he had the international and academic stature to promote the IB Diploma Programme around the world while at the same time being a charismatic visionary with his feet on the ground—a rare combination.
He played a particular role in shaping the theory of knowledge course, then at the core of the IB Diploma Programme and now influencing all aspects of the curriculum, from the Primary Years Programme through the Middle Years Programme to the Diploma Programme. His students admired him. He was bright, caring, civilized and very persistent. In 1987, a year before his death, Peterson published Schools Across Frontiers, his account of the creation of the United World Colleges and the International Baccalaureate®, and his final tribute to these two organizations whose history was so intertwined with his own. When he died in 1988, Alec Peterson had supported the IB for a quarter of a century as an educator, an internationalist and a pacifist.