Archive for the ‘Diary of a MIR Student’ Category


The Fourth Sector Is Here to Stay

By Alejandro Erquicia, MIR 2017/2018 Student

Organizations today are more aware than ever of society’s demands and are adapting, at different speeds, to the changing context of our time. The level of interconnectivity the world has reached is such that citizens demand change. Society wants progress and knows that to resolve these issues we need organizations to abide by social principles while doing business. In such an environment, the Fourth Sector, mission driven for profit organizations, is expanding its reach and establishing itself as the way to do business in the years to come.

A deep dive into the unstoppable growth of the Fourth Sector was presented to all of IE academia by the Center for the Governance of Change, a research institution aimed at deepening our understanding of change and developing strategies to anticipate, govern and promote progress. The School of International Relations at IE University was presenting the initiative as one of its core areas of work. In a roundtable entitled The Fourth Sector & the Future of Social Entrepreneurship panelists shared some practices and experiences on these types of businesses. The conversation was of great interest for students and professors of the Schools of Business, Law and International Relations.

The Fourth Sector, which has moved beyond the antiquated three sector system of government, private sector and non for profit, addresses societal challenges blending the three sectors. It is not driven by profit maximization but conducts business, in all types of industries, with a purpose to make the world a better place. The key factors are that like non-profits, their primary purpose is to advance societal benefit and, like for-profits, they generate a substantial portion of their income from business activities.

There are indications that it could account for as much as 10% of GDP as well as nearly twice the job growth rate as traditional for-profit businesses in the US and Europe, said Heerad Sabeti, head of the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Sector Development Initiative during his intervention. He defended the job creation implications the Fourth Sector could reach and encouraged the furthering of the new system of operating which lies at intersection of the three traditional sectors.
On his behalf Sebastián Gatica, professor in Social Innovation at the Universidad Católica de Chile spoke about the need to further develop a supportive and conductive ecosystem from which the fourth sector could exponentially increase its presence since it’s an approach to see the future, and the world for generations to come, in a positive way. Alejandro Pachecho, Strategic Adviser at the United Nations Development Programme and Antonio Vives, Adjunct Professor at Stanford University, also shared their insights and discussed the challenges and opportunities of this new sector.

The Fourth Sector is a new international project supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), that seeks to accelerate the establishment of a tailor-made ecosystem for social economy and for-benefit enterprises across borders. IE University will act as an academic partner in the project.

The Fourth Sector is here to stay. Businesses are transforming and can’t solely concentrate on Corporate Social Responsibility. More is needed and by focusing on the combination of doing good for the planet and having that approach to tackle the challenges we have, the social and economic returns will be noticed by all across the board.

Before closing the session Diego Rubio, Executive Director of the Center for the Governance of Change raised a question that surely left all thinking. If you were to receive two job offers, one working in the Amazon forest on tree preservation and the other working for a tobacco multinational in the US that paid five times more, which one would you take? Food for thought.


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

BY Alejandro Erquicia, MIR Student 2017/2018
Oct. 16th, 2017

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.


That morning on the 5th day was probably one of the hardest to wake up from after a very fun late night dinner with the MIR program at an amazing restaurant. We woke up bright and early for our final seminar of the week at Telefonica, a Spanish telecommunications company. After a brief walk, we arrived at the Brussels branch of the company. The seminar took a different path than I thought it would have. Rather than being just broad overview of the company, it was focused mainly on role, need, and process of lobbying for companies like Telefonica in Brussels. Our speaker had lived and worked in Washington DC and made some really good and insightful comparisons about how things would work in DC in the USA and in Brussels for EU institutions. He opened up the floor for questions which many of us took advantage of to ask the questions that were gnawing at us.

Brussels Day 5_telefonicaAfter the seminar, we went back to the hotel and it was time to pack up and check out. Most of the MIR students decided to fly back to Madrid on Monday instead of immediately leaving after the seminar on Friday. I, on the other hand had a flight to Morocco for 8 days of solo travel around the country.

After packing up, I entrusted my laptop and my formal clothing that I had brought for the week to a fellow MIR student to take back to Spain for me, and as a result have been unable to update for the past week and a half.

My Morocco adventure was truly unforgettable and I’ve come back now with many new experiences, new friends from different parts of the world, and also a small bout of stomach troubles typical of traveling to other countries. It’s all a part of the experience!

Today was the first day of classes of the spring quarter of the program. I can’t believe that we only have 3 months left of studies before graduation. The studies and schoolwork here are intensive which also distorts the sense of time. When you’re busy as a bee, time flies without you noticing at all. I have to savor it while it lasts!



This is part of a series where current Master in International Relations student Calvin Nguyen will share with us updates about the Master in International Relations yearly trip to Brussels. 

You can read more blogposts on the Brussels trip here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4


Day 4 in Brussels:

It is 1 am and I am absolutely exhausted from the day! Today was the long awaited NATO trip. We had some logistical issues with NATO since they sent their transport bus to the wrong hotel, but after a few phone calls, the problem was resolved and we were on our way. The compound is quite guarded with barbed wire surrounding the perimeter. To enter the compound, we had to surrender any recording devices, including our cellphones, and pass through security. After entering, we had a series of speakers come in to talk to us about the organization. The room that we were placed in had a unique character about it. It was painted in a light blue pastel color with a long rectangular table that stretched throughout the length of the room. The table was covered with microphones and headsets that were neatly placed in front of each seat. One particular speaker was a retired military officer in the British army especially captivated us with his chummy and witty humor and his willingness to answer questions without dancing around the issue. We also were able to have lunch in the NATO facility which was quite delicious! I had a French inspired duck dish with croquets and vegetables.

After the NATO visit, we had free time until 9 pm that night which was when we would have our program dinner with everyone. A few of the students and I decided to use this time to explore downtown Brussels and to get some tourist traveling done. Despite the cold and rainy weather, we had a blast navigating the city. Once we returned to the hotel, we headed to our dinner. The menu was absolutely delicious! The venue was very nicely decorated and had a very unique character about it. Everyone was having a great time with the delicious food, wine, and good conversation. Tomorrow we have one more seminar before having the official field work portion of the trip be over. Time to sleep! Good night!


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This is part of a series where current Master in International Relations (MIR) student Calvin Nguyen will share with us updates about the MIR program´s yearly trip to Brussels.


Day 3 in Brussels:

Today has been an incredibly long but interesting day. We started off at 9 am today by walking to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to meet some of the staff. The IOM has offices worldwide with regional offices in Manila, Panama, and Brussels. It works quite closely with the UN on migration matters and has ongoing projects all over the world. What struck me as the most interesting was the fact that one of the speakers and employees there was an American and not a European. I think for the North Americans (including myself), it made us think about the potential opportunities for us in Brussels. Due to the time constraint, we were unable to go more in depth about certain issues such as the humanitarian projects, human trafficking, and other nitty gritty issues, but we left with an overall idea of the goals and work of the organization.

Soon after, we had a lunch break before having to reconvene for our EU Parliament visit. For lunch, a few of us went to a restaurant called the Grape Vine with the intention of just drinking hot chocolate or coffee and talking. Upon arriving, we found an incredibly reasonably priced Indian lunch buffet for only 16 euros. After stuffing ourselves silly, we regrouped with everyone to head to the EU Parliament. The most interesting speaker was a quick Q and A with one of the Spanish parliamentarians. After learning “seminar style,” we went and actually were able to observe a plenary session. Most of us were really entertained to see how parliamentary procedures were debated and carried out. We had to use headphones and could change to different channels to hear the debates translated live. It was interesting gauging the performance of the translators as well. It was clear that some translators were much more adept at their job than others.

Afterwards, we had a two hour break before our next event. A few of us decided to finally head to central Brussels to explore what the city had to offer. We indulged in delicious Belgian waffles and chocolates and also explored the Grand Plaza area, including the famous fountain of the peeing little boy. With chocolates in our bellies, we raced back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group for our scheduled young professionals networking event at an Irish Pub. I was able to talk to a few young professionals and learn about what brought them to Brussels which was quite interesting.

I better get to bed because we have to meet tomorrow at 7:30am for our much anticipated NATO visit.  Until then!


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This is part of a series where current Master in International Relations (MIR) student Calvin Nguyen will share with us updates about the MIR program´s yearly trip to Brussels.

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