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In its relatively short history as a region of independent islands, the Caribbean has held fast to certain ideas of development. We have pursued economic regional integration through the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). We seek out development financing from international sources, including foreign direct investment. But how well have these ideas served us? Is it time to think differently?

These were the questions asked at the two-day symposium "The Caribbean on the Edge: Rising Above the Orthodoxy of Development Thinking," hosted by The UWI St Augustine’s Institute of International Relations (IIR) in September 2019. Held at The University Inn and Conference Centre, and bringing together leading regional and international scholars in development, economics and international affairs, the symposium was convened in tribute to the late Sir Alister McIntyre.

"We wanted to call into question the very foundation of development thinking and critique it,” said Dr Dave Seerattan, lecturer at the IIR and member of the organising committee for the event.

Broken up into four themes – the philosophical underpinnings of development, economic integration, development financing and foreign affairs – the presenters examined and found flaws in the region’s development paradigms.

The discussions ranged from the suitability and risks of economic liberalism for small economies such as those of the Caribbean, the questionable benefits of development financing (one presentation showed a net outflow of foreign capital in the region over the last decade), and the viability of the CSME in its current form.

Trade and Industry Minister Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon provided the feature address on the opening day of the symposium while Professor Emeritus Compton Bourne gave a keynote address on the "Developmental Contribution of Sir Alister McIntyre."

Sir Alister, who served as both Vice-Chancellor of The UWI and Secretary General of CARICOM among numerous other posts, was committed to Caribbean development and integration. He passed away on April 20, 2019.

In her opening remarks, IIR Director Professor Jessica Byron said, "Sir Alister was a brilliant economist, technocrat and diplomat whose life embodied public service to the entire Caribbean and the international community. He was a committed regionalist concerned with finding solutions to the development challenges not only of the Caribbean but of the global South."

Over the course of the two-day symposium, presentations were given by a stellar list of leaders in academia, diplomacy and industry such as The UWI Professor of Practice Winston Dookeran, Deputy Chairman of the Guardian Group Peter Ganteaume, Professor of International Relations at the University of Alberta Andy Knight, and Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) Director Dr Hamid Ghany.