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Letters From ~ 1 

Letter from France

Chris Duke, modern-day Renaissance Man

Chris Brooks

We first met when the sun had already risen over the first two thirds of our lives. But the instant friendship which dawned has been a source of joy and inspiration to me for the last ten years. Chris is an intelligent, thoughtful, diligent and determined person. For any man this might seem like quite a lot, but he is also insightful, determined and above all kind and generous. That makes him quite an outstanding character who can always be turned to for wise and sensitive advice. But most importantly he lives what he speaks.

In any discussion with Chris, and indeed with his wonderful wife Liz, one is always struck by the sheer breadth of sources and inputs which are brought into play when forming a judgement - history, film, books and philosophy but also nature and plants and images from painting and photography. To all this is always added a degree of intuition and a certain sort of sixth sense. This makes him a sort of modern-day Renaissance Man.

But Chris is also a man of action. First as a teacher he’s respectful of the wide nature and diversity of intelligence. Having spent his life in institutions which increasingly see themselves as producers of certificates, he is profoundly attached to the idea of imparting and drawing out knowledge from others. And this knowledge and the aptitudes it brings are for him a vehicle of building a better world.

Chris Duke is an activist, an activist who sees humanity as the only answer to the problems of our troubled world brought on by selfishness, excessive material individualism and the ruthless pursuit of power. Over many years and in many ways, he has sought to make the world a better place and to equip people with the skills and knowledge to make them effective agents of change. In his quiet way he is a new incarnation of a revolutionary - not an ideologue trapped in the confines of pre-established thought, but somebody capable through his remarkable skills of observation and intuition of forming a just view. I have been privileged to benefit from this remarkable capacity in the happy and joyful discussions we have had together whether in our treasured gardens or by the fireside drinking his beloved Burgundy wine.

We are all better people for knowing Chris and have benefited greatly from the many insights he has brought to us from his wide network of friends and professional relationships. The Bulletin has been a sort of intellectual food to enrich our daily lives and to inspire our collective and individual actions to make progress for a kinder, fairer, more dignified humanity. He is the living incarnation of what adult education stands for at its best. Thank you, Chris.

Chris Brooks was a senior director at the OECD and a Professor at The Institute for Political Science (Sciences Po) Paris. He learned to read at 14 years of age and makes him eternal grateful for adult educators!

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