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The Development and Civilizations - Lebret-Irfed international centre in History

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After having founded Economy and Humanism in 1941, Louis-Joseph Lebret saw his international audience grow. The creation of an appropriate structure which would be relevant to the challenge of international development therefore became, in the mid-1950s, one of the priorities for his work.

This is how he created IRFED (then International Institute for Research and Training for Harmonized Development), in 1958, concretizing his vision of human economics on the international level, by implementing big projects in development planning (in Lebanon, Senegal, Brazil) and, creating a development training course in Paris for students from all over the world.

After L.-J. Lebret’s death in 1966, Roland Colin and Vincent Cosmao took over the responsibility for these activities. The institute was re-structured along three sectors : research, training and direct intervention. IRFED became engaged in new projects, like when it was called upon to assist in reforming the educational systems of Senegal, Niger, Chad, Ivory Coast and in Guinea Bissao. The review “Development and Civilizations" was launched in 1960.

At the end of 1971, parallel to IRFED, the international association Centre Lebret, under the direction of Vincent Cosmao, was formed, focusing more on the interaction between faith and development. Since its creation, it has been publishing the monthly publication in French “Faith and Development” which recently became "Development and Civilizations". JPEG IRFED specialized in the field of education and intercultural formation. Then, in 1979, the association was induced to federalize its structures in three separate groupings : an association intervening in Europe: ECD (Education Culture Development); an association intervening in developing countries: EDI (Education and Intercultural Development); and IRFED International, doing the over-all coordination.

With respect to the Centre Lebret, it brought together into a network those development actors of development, who identified themselves with Lebret’s thinking and methodology. This gave rise to several international meetings and seminars in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

In 1998, on the occasion of the centennial commemoration of L.-J. Lebret held in UNESCO, IRFED International and the Centre Lebret came to work more closely together, and this proved to be the beginning of a reunification process, fully realized in 2004, with the decision of both structures to constitute a single entity: the “The Development and Civilizations - Lebret-Irfed international centre”.

Roland Colin and Eric Sottas, respectively presidents of IRFED International and Centre Lebret became honorary presidents of the new entity.

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