This is a special issue of our journal, celebrating forty years of what at the begin ning was called the Department for Adult Education in Developing Countries, then the Department for International Cooperation, later the Institute for International Cooperation, and now we are using DVV International. With all these changes we should never forget that it has always been a specialized section within the Ger man Adult Education Association, the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband e.V., the national association of the local folkhighschools, the Volkshochschulen (VHS), and their state level representations, all part of the quite well known and established DVV, acting locally, nationally, regionally, and globally.

1969 was a turning point during which the European and international activi ties of the VHS and the DVV had grown to an extent where it needed a somewhat more formalized structure, like a department within the association. Even in the early seventies the number of colleagues, projects and partners were very small, however constantly growing, and building up to almost one hundred fifty people now working for DVV International in Germany and in the many regional and na tional offices around the world.

Jakob Horn, the former and longstanding director died on 17 January 2009. He retired in 1999, after he had served in the leadership of the Institute for a substantial and most important period, establishing a strong base and structure of cooperation within the DVV, especially with our key funding organisations, and with all of our professional partners in an ever growing number of countries, within the Govern ments, Universities and civil society organisations – as long as they are involved in adult education. In memory of his service, we devote this special issue to him, and we provide a chapter with materials written by himself, friends and colleagues.

Michael Samlowski retired as deputy director of the Institute last year, after more than twenty five years working for DVV. He is still supporting our work as secretary general of the Advisory Board of DVV, and in many respects his expertise is helping DVV International. We were fortunate that he could write the historical chapter in here, and presenting his view of how the Institute became what it is today. Addi tionally, he contributed the overview on current activities, and a very personal note on remembering Jakob Horn, their relationship, and his internationalism towards adult education. Hanno Schindele, who was with us for more than twenty years during which he very successfully and full of enthusiasm coordinated the coopera tion with our partners in Africa and Asia, including five years as head of our office in Lesotho, has started his well deserved retirement.

Actually, this issue on the forty years, very much follows the structure of our special issue which we published in 1994 when the Institute turned twenty five. We again have a section on the current activities with all the necessary details looking at the last two years, and where we work on what with whom. This should be seen within the context of and in addition to all the information provided on our website.

Then there are two chapters which feature individual articles. We invited col leagues from outside the Institute to look at trends and issues in adult education and development around us, and provide a perspective. Half of them already did so 15 years ago. And the other section features contributions from colleagues within the Institute, from headquarters and from offices discussing what has been close to their professional concerns and experiences.

A major section collects documents covering the period that followed the first twenty five years, up to the latest ones in 2009. We again try to show how we were influenced by ideas, policies, recommendations that are coming to us in our main areas of adult education, development, and cooperation. And at the same time we present what has been coming from us through the many interventions we have been involved in. Of course, many of them are now available via websites. But we decided to have them printed here, and have this special issue almost like a handbook for our readers, the vast majority of which still do not have access to the Internet.

Finally, there is an appendix with all kinds of information on the Institute and its work in respect to studies, publications, and other details.

We wish to express our sincere thanks to all who support our work. Our longest and largest funder is the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which thankfully has been supporting this journal now ever since 1973 via a project on information and communication to adult education in development.

Heribert Hinzen